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Hire Roofers With Workers Comp - And Follow Up!

By Michael R Slattery

Most folks know, when searching for a roofing company in Miami, to make sure they are licensed and insured. To many, "insured" refers to liability insurance which protects the homeowner should the contractor cause damage to their property - but what about workers compensation insurance? You won't hear me siding with insurance companies very often but since an article in the Insurance Journal found 60% of Florida roofing contractors do not carry proper Worker's Compensation Insurance (WC), not much has changed. Indeed, that number rises as you go further south and many of the roofing contractors in Miami that do carry WC are cheating by only covering a few, if any, of their workers.. This has created an unfair competitive disadvantage for contractors who play by the rules and must pay higher premiums to compensate for those who are gaming the system.

According to a high ranking WC official in Tallahassee there are only four compliance officers assigned to WC enforcement in all of Monroe County and Miami-Dade County. State and local authorities are too constrained by the budget crunch to effectively enforce the WC laws in the field, so the free-for-all continues. To homeowners this may seem like someone else's problem. Few realize that if a worker is injured on their property and is not covered by WC it is them - the homeowner - that can be held liable for their medical expenses. Unfair, yes! That is why you'll often hear the state warn of unlicensed contractors with no liability insurance but not much about the burden they place on the homeowner regarding its WC laws (and lien laws, for that matter). This trend will continue until homeowners (voters) make it known to their State Rep. that they want the WC Laws enforced.

To protect themselves, homeowners can only be sure that everyone working on their roof is covered by calling the roofing company's carrier, which can be found on their insurance certificate. Call on the day the contractor begins tearing the roof off - count the number of people on the roof and ask the carrier how many are covered by the policy. Legitimate contractors should have no problem with supplying this information.

In over 20 years of roofing in Miami, a state WC Compliance Officer has never checked out a roofing project I was working on. Almost as remarkably, a homeowner has never asked for a copy of our WC certificate. I wish they would. 

Michael Slattery is a Florida Certified Roofing Contractor and President of Roofer Mike Inc, a roofing company in Miami, FL.


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