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Make the Safe Choice When Using Outside Contractors

Anytime a construction project is being done at your facility, completing it correctly is usually a top priority. In order to achieve this, it is important to hire a contractor that is qualified for the task at hand. Although contractors provide you with needed services, they also bring the risk and liability of property damage or personal injury that could occur while working on your facility. The losses your church could face as a result of damage or injury could be devastating. To avoid any of these situations and to make the best decision possible for your church, consider the following when selecting an outside contractor.

  1. Seek Multiple Bids. It is always a good idea for your church to obtain several bids before selecting a contractor. This ensures you will receive high quality work while being cost effective. The lowest bid may not always be the best choice, as it can be an indicator of low-quality work or low-grade materials.
  2. Check References. Never make a final agreement with a contractor before you have checked their references. References from other churches and worship facilities can be very beneficial. Ask questions such as: Was the project finished on time and within budget? Were there any issues? Were you pleased overall? Also, checking with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been logged can be very informative. Additionally, you can search online court and government records to learn about their history and verify proper licensure.
  3. Put The Contract in Writing. Always make sure you have a written contract that includes the terms of your agreement, such as a description of the work being done, price, payment terms, anticipated timeline; including start and completion dates, and any other applicable terms. The contract also should include a hold harmless or indemnity clause and an insurance clause that requires the contractor to be fully insured and to name your church as an additional insured. To view a sample contract, click here.
  4. Make Sure They Are Insured. You should never put your churches insurance on the line when working with contractors; theirs should always be the one at risk. Always check that the contractor has the correct insurance policies, including:
    • General Liability;
    • Property Damage;
    • Workers’ Compensation; and
    • Excess or Umbrella Liability

    The insurance limits on these policies should be equal to or greater than the church’s limits and remember to require the contractor to name your church as an additional insured and provide proof that they have done that. A Certificate of Insurance or, better, an endorsement (change) to their policy that names your church as an additional insured is evidence of that. The certificate(s) or endorsement should remain current. If a contractor is not insured or does not have workers’ compensation coverage, the church will often be liable for the damages or injuries that might occur while on the jobsite. To view a sample certificate of insurance with instructions on how to read and understand the certificate, click here.

  5. Finish Strong. Although the job may be completed, there are still steps the church must take before signing off on the work or making a final payment. Make sure the final product is what you and the contractor agreed on. If you sign off on the project before inspecting the work, you are at risk of the contractor not fully performing his or her job. Also, make sure the contractor has paid its suppliers and subcontractors for any materials or labor related to the project. Failure to do so may result in the suppliers and subcontractors coming against the church for payment.
  6. When You Need Protection. Whether the job is big or small, it is important to spend time to follow the steps mentioned above before hiring a contractor. Hiring qualified contractors is critical in the following situations: 
    • When the work is significant, such as new construction, renovation, or demolition;
    • Where the work is high risk, such as involving roofs, electrical systems, plumbing systems, or trimming; and
    • Where the work is regularly undertaken on church premises, such as servicing of heating, air conditioning and fire protection systems, or lawn service and snow removal.

Finding the right contractor and protecting your church from incidences involving outside contractors is just another way to keep you church and congregation safe, while preventing a significant loss. Remember to follow these steps to protect your church before it is too late.

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.