Understanding “Licensed and Insured” in Florida Construction

When hiring a contractor for your construction needs in Florida, you often come across the terms “licensed and insured.” But what do these terms mean, and why are they important? Let’s break it down.

Insured

The term “insured” is straightforward. It means that the contractor has liability and worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance is crucial as it protects you and your property against any damages that might occur during the construction process. To ensure your protection, request a Certificate of Insurance directly from the contractor’s insurance company. Make sure your name is listed as the “Certificate Holder” on this document. Do not settle for a certificate handed to you by the contractor. If the contractor fails to provide this documentation, it could indicate a lack of insurance coverage.

Licensed

Being “licensed” means that the contractor, electrician, plumber, or other professional has completed specific training and obtained a license from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). These license numbers should be readily available from your intended contractor. Typically, they start with three letters followed by a series of numbers. For example:

  • Certified Building Contractor license starts with CBC.
  • Certified General Contractor license starts with CGC.
  • Electrician license starts with ECC.

You can verify your potential contractor’s license by visiting the DBPR website. You can search using the company’s name or the contractor’s name. If your contractor mentions using someone else’s license, such as “his cousin Bob’s,” to pull permits, it’s essential to ensure that cousin Bob is a qualifier for the business (which will be listed on the DBPR’s website). Otherwise, this practice is illegal. If a contractor insists that you pull the permit yourself, it’s a cause for concern and warrants further investigation.

It should be noted that the State of Florida does not currently issue a handyman’s license. While some municipalities may license a handyman, they may not perform duties contrary to the requirements of the State of Florida.

General Business License

It’s important to note that being licensed does not equate to holding a general business license. Checking with SunBiz only confirms the business’s existence but does not provide any additional assurance regarding the contractor’s qualifications.

Stay Vigilant

Regardless of whom you select to contract for your home remodel, remain vigilant and do your due diligence. Ensuring your contractor is both licensed and insured is a crucial step in protecting yourself and your property.

Good luck with your project!

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