New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Spotlight on: Verifying a Contractor's Workers' Compensation Coverage

New York City

Work injury
Nov. 11, 2014

The contractor and any subcontractors also need to show they have workmen's compensation insurance coverage for their employees. The contractor should sign a "hold harmless" agreement that states he has read the terms of the agreement and agrees to indemnify the shareholder and co-op.

By the Book

Proper protection starts with choosing the right contractor. When distributing alteration or decorating agreements to your shareholders, inform them that any contractor doing work in their apartments must be licensed as a home improvement contractor by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. You can check for a license at the DCA's website.

Although hiring a licensed contractor goes not guarantee quality work, the DCA does pay consumers who get cheated by unscrupulous licensed contractors through a trust it set up. The board can put together an informal list of contractors who have done reputable work based on the recommendations of the shareholders, but should make it clear that the list in no way endorses anyone.

Verify Those Bona Fides

If the contractor has the proper insurance coverage, he should be able to provide the shareholder or unit-owner with the correct certificates. Get phone numbers for the contractors' insurance carriers, and make sure somebody verifies that the contractor truly has an active policy. Run these certificates by the property manager, who should be able to recognize a questionable carrier or whether there's something missing in the certificate.

Workers in any for-profit company must be covered by their employer's workers' compensation coverage and should be able to provide a certificate as proof. Sole proprietors and businesses with no employees, however, are not required to have workers' comp. They are, however, required to have liability insurance.

Some apartment-owners may feel that hiring a contractor shouldn't warrant a lot of extra paperwork and phone calls, but they must remember that any work being done in an apartment is a potential risk to the co-op. The building must have everything in order to protect itself. The message to homeowners and boards is: "Don't take even minor alterations lightly."


For more, see our Site Map or join our Archive >>

Adapted from "Workmen's Comp: Slip Sliding Away" by Michael Gwertzman (Habitat, March 2004)

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?