Coffee heat rising

Is Your Contractor Insured? Really?

So here’s another little life lesson I learned from the Olde Folkes yesterday. Decided to present this in a separate post, because it is a VERY big effing deal. Y’ere ’tis:

Whenever you have a contractor of any kind working around your house, ALWAYS BE SURE THEY’RE INSURED!

That’s even if you think they’re the nicest folks to come along since God created the Angel Gabriel. Even if they seem honest as Abe. Even if they work as hard as a plow horse.

Got that? Don’t just ask if they’re insured. Demand to see the policy. You want proof positive that they have general liability insurance or that they’re licensed and bonded with your state registrar of contractors.

When J & L sold their home of 40 years and moved to the Beatitudes, a life-care community, they hired two women who are in the business of helping elders move into old-folkeries. There are a number of these places in the Valley, and the pair have registered themselves with a bunch of them. For J & L, who are in their nineties and were moving to an apartment that was — maybe — two-thirds the size of their home, only with no garage and no garage storage and a tiny kitchen and no room for L’s office, these two ladies were a godsend. They advised on what furniture could fit into the new digs and where it could be fit, they packed up as much as could be stuffed into the apartment and arranged for movers, they put stuff away in closets and cabinets, they even got someone to custom-build a way to hang the expensive draperies J wanted to take with them.

As part of the bargain, once the couple was moved out the moving helpers were to arrange and supervise an estate sale, to sell off the (many) possessions that simply could not fit into a tiny apartment on the fourth floor of an old-folks’ home.

I remember thinking, as the two women were telling me this, I don’t recall seeing any ads from your outfit in the estate-sale listings to which I subscribe in gay profusion. Are you trying to say “yard sale,” dears? If so, how’s about telling the client that? But I kept quiet. Maybe, after all, they did their estate-sale business under some other moniker.

Okay. So this gigantic project chugs along and eventually they get the folks moved. They tidy up the remaining goods, and now this estate sale is supposed to take place the following day.

That night, the house is broken into and everything of significant value is stolen. The women say the lost items were appraised (really??? Who are you kidding?) at $5,000.

The house is locked up behind mighty iron security gates, brain-banging deadbolts, and an expensive and efficient alarm system. Sooo…WTF, say I.

J says the two women “forgot” to turn on the burglar alarm when they left that evening. The perps, who magically knew the alarm company’s stickers on the window alluded to nothing, broke a window, climbed in, and made themselves to home.

“Forgot:” Yeah. R-i-i-i-g-h-t.

So now the women tell them that they — J & L — will have to make this claim on THEIR homeowner’s insurance!

Say what?

Can’t you just hear the insurance adjustor’s reaction?Ohhh no. Not a chance in Hell. You had already moved out of the place and you had consigned the property to these people; therefore the consignee was responsible.”

And…say what? Five. Thousand. Dollah? Don’t think so.

I’ve done a lot of yard sales in my life. And neighbors who used to live across the street from me, a  pair who became dear friends, were in the yard-sale business. And…well…y’know what? The entire contents of that house including all the stuff they moved into their new home were totally absolutely not worth $5,000. They had a few works of art that were worth something…but they took those with them.

So. IMHO we’re lookin’ at a scam here.

But that’s just IMHO, eh?

The point is, once the possessions had been handed over into the care of the assisted-moving business, they became the assisted-movers’ insurance company’s responsibility, not the homeowner’s.

Dollah to donuts, that is what my friends’ insuror will claim. And several dollahs to donuts, these women have no business insurance or anything vaguely resembling it.

At the risk of repeating myself…

Whenever you have a contractor of any kind working around your house, ALWAYS BE SURE THEY’RE INSURED!

6 thoughts on “Is Your Contractor Insured? Really?”

  1. WOW…Might press the contractor on this. MANY times these folks have insurance BUT just don’t want a claim. This is usually termed “E & O Insurance” … or Errors and Omissions Insurance…which would seem to apply in this case. Your friends might want to call their insurance company and explain what happened. Many times they will intercede on the clients behalf…to a degree. Did the neighbors not notice the place getting carried off?

    • In these parts, moving companies often end up (unwittingly, one hopes) hiring burglars on their crews. These guys case a house when they’re carrying the goods around; then come back and rip it off a couple days later. This happened to SDXB, among others. So the actual burglary probably was carried off by the moving guys, and the two helper women had nothing to do with it. The fact remains, though, that they were careless in failing to set the burglar alarm.

      I think the chances are very good the two women have no insurance. What they’ve done here is cobble together a set of “side gigs” to create some cash flow, and they’re calling it a business. Part of their empire includes dog-sitting and dog-walking services. So I’m afraid they’re pretty ephemeral: two more poor folks laid off their jobs and trying to hold it together, catch as catch can.

      Apparently none of the neighbors noticed the hijinks. The development is right off a main drag, with Gangbanger’s Way less than a mile to the north. You get used to road noise and gunshots, to the point where you sleep right through any odd sounds.

      • That’s sad…around here in our neighborhood we tend to look out for any shenanigans…Just this summer one of the neighbors and I were checking out an “unfamiliar” visitor to the guy that lives next door to me. We knew they were away and this guy fumbled gaining access. Turned out we scared the heck out of him as he was exiting the house. He was a friend who agreed to stop in and check on the cat while they were away. Might want to ask around….somebody had to see something. Seems like there is a camera on every corner.

      • Well, they came along in the middle of the night. Presumably the residents were all sleeping. Their next-door neighbor does have cameras, but she, unfortunately is mentally ill in a wild way: she’s crazy as a loon, and she’s a major reason they decided to leave. They (and everyone else in the complex) have been on the outs with her for years…she’s certainly not about to do them any favors. This is the one who thinks half their back yard belongs to her, despite what the County Recorder says…

  2. What’s worse is if the family member takes the hand carryable items into the old folks home and then due to dementia, starts giving it away to visitors and random strangers. A coworker of mine said her neighbors mom gave away all of the nice furniture and small items (including some family jewelry) like that. I guess where she lived, the staff didn’t stop that from happening and the family didn’t live close enough to check in her in person that often. So moral of the story, give away everything you want to will away while you still have your wits.

    • THAT is a smart idea. You know, I think disputes or at least silent bad feelings occur in just about any family where there’s more than one child. SDXB had a colorful story about a petty grab when one of his relatives died… And my great-grandmother had told my mother that she (my mother) would get her diamond wedding rings, but lo! they ended up in the possession of the other grandchild’s wife. Not as though that lady couldn’t afford a diamond or two: her husband was a Standard Oil executive. 😀

      Whoever you think should have your possessions: pass them along as gifts while you still have all your marbles. Good thought!

Comments are closed.