As a business owner or entrepreneur, you understand the importance of having the right coverage to protect your assets and operations. But what about the independent contractors you may be working with? Do your current policies cover them, or is that something you need to address separately? With the rise in the gig economy and the increasing number of freelance professionals, it is a question that’s becoming more and more relevant for businesses across Canada.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of business insurance in Canada, with a particular focus on how it relates to independent contractors. We will discuss the various types of insurance coverage available and the specific requirements and exclusions that may apply to your business.
So, without further ado, it is time to delve into the world of business insurance and its implications for independent contractors and discover what it takes to ensure that you and your collaborators are well-protected in the ever-evolving landscape of today’s business world.
What is the difference between business insurance and contractor’s insurance?
Business insurance and contractor’s insurance are both types of liability insurance that provide financial protection for businesses, but there are some key differences between the two.
Business insurance is a type of insurance coverage that provides protection for a wide range of risks and liabilities that businesses face, such as property damage, liability claims, and business interruption. Business insurance typically includes coverage for commercial general liability, property insurance, business interruption insurance, and other types of coverage designed to protect businesses from various unexpected events and risks.
Contractor’s insurance, on the other hand, is a specific type of insurance coverage that is tailored to the risks and liabilities associated with contractor work. Contractor’s insurance typically includes coverage for commercial general liability, professional liability, and other types of coverage that are specific to the construction industry. This coverage can help protect contractors from liability claims related to bodily injury, property damage, and other risks associated with construction work.
So while both provide protection for businesses, contractor’s insurance is tailored specifically to the risks and liabilities associated with contractors, while business insurance provides broader coverage for a wide range of business risks and liabilities. If you have any further contractors or business insurance questions, contact BrokerLink today!
What is general liability insurance for contractors?
General liability insurance for contractors (or contractors insurance) is a type of comprehensive coverage that protects against claims of bodily harm, property damage, and other liability risks that may arise from the contractor’s business operations. This coverage is designed to help contractors mitigate the financial risks associated with accidents, injuries, or damages that occur during the course of their work.
Contractors general liability insurance typically covers the following types of claims:
This coverage provides protection if someone is injured as a result of the contractor’s work or business activities. For example, if a customer slips and falls on a wet floor while visiting the contractor’s work site, the contractor’s general liability insurance may cover the resulting medical expenses and legal costs.
This coverage provides protection if the contractor causes damage to someone else’s property during the course of their work. For example, if a contractor accidentally damages a customer’s property while performing construction work, the contractor’s general liability insurance may cover the cost of repairs or replacement.
Personal and advertising injury
This coverage protects against claims of libel, slander, or copyright infringement that may arise from the contractor’s advertising or business operations.
Contractors' general liability insurance typically has limits and exclusions, so it is important to carefully review the terms and conditions of the policy to understand what is covered and what is not. Additionally, contractors may want to consider more coverage, such as professional liability insurance or cyber liability insurance, depending on the nature of their work and the specific risks they face.
Are independent contractors covered under my commercial general liability insurance policy?
Independent contractors are generally not automatically covered under your commercial general liability insurance (CGL) policy, as they are considered separate entities from your business. However, depending on the terms and conditions of your policy, it may provide coverage for certain actions of independent contractors who work on your behalf.
For example, if an independent contractor causes bodily harm or property damage while working on a project for your business, your CGL policy may cover any resulting claims or lawsuits. However, this coverage may be limited to specific circumstances, and the contractor may need to be properly licensed and insured to be eligible for coverage under your policy.
It is important to carefully review the terms and conditions of your liability insurance to understand the specific coverage and limitations that apply to independent contractors. If you regularly work with independent contractors, you may want to consider adding an endorsement or rider to your policy to cover their actions while working on your behalf specifically.
Does a contractor need insurance in Ontario?
In Ontario, contractors are not legally required to carry insurance. However, many customers and project owners may require contractors to carry insurance as a condition of doing business. Additionally, obtaining insurance can help protect your business from unexpected events and liabilities.
Therefore, while contractors in Ontario are not legally required to carry insurance, it is important to consider the risks and liabilities that come with running a business. Obtaining insurance can help protect your business and give you peace of mind knowing that you are covered in case of unexpected events.
Why should I get contractor insurance?
If you are a contractor in Canada, obtaining contractor insurance to protect yourself and your business against a wide range of risks and liabilities is highly recommended. Contractor insurance can help you avoid financial losses and legal issues that could otherwise put your business at risk.
Below we've listed four key reasons why you should consider getting contractor insurance:
Protection against accidents and injuries
Contractor insurance can provide coverage for accidents and injuries that occur on the job site, such as slip and fall accidents or injuries from falling debris. If someone is injured as a result of the contractor’s work, the contractor could be held liable. This coverage can help you avoid expensive medical costs and legal fees.
Protection against property damage
If the contractor accidentally damages someone else's property while performing work, they could be held liable for the cost of repairs or replacement. Contractor insurance can help cover the cost.
Protection against legal claims
If a customer or third party files a lawsuit against you for damages or injuries, contractor insurance can provide coverage for legal fees and settlements or judgments.
Meeting contractual requirements
Many customers and project owners require contractors to carry insurance as a condition of doing business. Having contractor insurance can help you meet these requirements and win more contracts.
Several types of contractor insurance are available in Canada, including general liability insurance, professional liability insurance, and commercial auto insurance. The type of insurance you need will depend on the nature of your business and the specific risks you face. By obtaining contractor insurance, you can protect your business and give yourself peace of mind knowing that you are covered in the event of unexpected events.
How much does contractor’s insurance cost in Ontario?
The cost of contractor’s insurance in Ontario can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of work the contractor performs, the level of coverage they require, and the size of their business. Generally, the cost of contractor’s insurance will depend on the type and amount of coverage needed.
However, the actual cost can be higher or lower depending on various factors, such as the level of risk involved in the work, the number of employees, the size of the business, and the deductible.
Other factors that can affect the cost of contractor's insurance include the location of the business, the claims history of the business, and the types of coverage selected.
To get a more accurate estimate of the cost of contractor's insurance in Ontario, contact BrokerLink today to speak with a licensed insurance broker who can help assess your business needs and provide a customized insurance quote. Learn more about the type of business insurance quote information you will need to have on hand to ensure an accurate quote.
Do general contractors and independent contractors need different insurance?
General contractors and independent contractors may have different insurance needs depending on the nature of their work and the specific risks they face. While both types of contractors may require similar types of insurance coverage, such as general liability insurance, the scope and extent of coverage may differ.
General contractors typically oversee and manage construction projects, hiring subcontractors and coordinating their work. As such, they may need additional insurance coverage, such as builder's risk insurance, that provides protection for the construction project itself. General contractors may also need higher limits of coverage to account for the additional risks associated with managing a construction project.
Independent contractors, however, typically work on specific projects or tasks and may have more limited insurance needs. But they may still need insurance coverage for risks such as liability claims and property damage, depending on the nature of their work.
So while both may require similar types of insurance coverage, the extent and scope of coverage needed may differ depending on the specific risks and liabilities associated with their work.
How does my contractor's insurance work for my subcontractors?
The coverage for subcontractors under your contractor's insurance policy will depend on your policy type and the specific terms and conditions of that policy.
Generally speaking, your contractor's insurance policy will not provide coverage for subcontractors as it typically provides coverage only for full-time employees, and subcontractors are considered their own separate businesses. However, some policies may offer limited coverage for subcontractors who work under your supervision, subject to certain conditions and restrictions.
For example, if you have general liability insurance, your policy may provide coverage for bodily harm or property damage caused by your subcontractors while they are working on your behalf. However, this coverage may be limited to a specific amount and may only apply if the subcontractor is properly licensed and insured.
Alternatively, you can add an endorsement or rider to your policy to cover your subcontractors specifically. This endorsement can provide additional protection for the subcontractors and their work.
It is important for contractors to note that their policy coverage limit is applicable to all employees of their business and not to each employee separately. To help accommodate all employees, contractors can increase their coverage limit.
However, if they hire subcontractors who have their own liability insurance, it ensures that all parties have adequate coverage. Subcontractors should consider purchasing liability insurance to guarantee coverage, even when their employer cannot provide it. Liability insurance would also allow subcontractors to work on multiple sites.
If you have any insurance questions or concerns, contact BrokerLink today. We can help you understand your coverage options and find the right policy for your business needs.
Other types of business insurance for contractors
In addition to general liability insurance, contractors may need other types of insurance depending on the nature of their business and the specific risks they face, such as:
Professional liability insurance (errors and omissions insurance)
This coverage is designed to protect contractors against claims arising from negligence, mistakes, or omissions in the professional services they provide. It is particularly relevant for professionals such as consultants, designers, engineers, and other service providers who offer expert advice or specialized services to customers.
Builder’s risk insurance
For contractors, builder’s risk insurance is designed to provide coverage for damage or loss from fire, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters to a construction project during the course of construction. This coverage can help contractors avoid financial losses and legal issues, allowing them to focus on completing the project and delivering it to the client on time and within budget.
Commercial auto insurance
If an independent contractor uses a vehicle for work-related purposes, commercial auto insurance for businesses can provide coverage for accidents, damage, or theft involving the vehicle. This is essential for contractors regularly transporting tools, equipment, or customers in their vehicles.
Commercial property insurance
This insurance covers the contractor’s tools, equipment, and workspace against risks such as fire, theft, or natural disasters. It is particularly important for contractors with expensive equipment or a dedicated workspace, like a home office or studio.
Cyber liability insurance
If an independent contractor handles sensitive customer information or relies heavily on technology for their business, cyber liability insurance can protect them against losses resulting from data breaches, cyber-attacks, or other cyber-related incidents.
Business interruption insurance
If the contractor relies on their business income to support themselves, they may want to consider business interruption insurance. This coverage can provide financial support in case of unexpected events, such as a fire or natural disaster, that cause a temporary shutdown of their business operations.
Note that some customers may require contractors to carry specific insurance policies as a condition of their contract. It is important to review your contracts carefully to ensure that you meet all insurance requirements. Furthermore, the exact insurance needs of an independent contractor can vary depending on individual circumstances.
What type of contractor needs general liability insurance?
Most types of contractors need general liability insurance or contractor insurance to protect themselves from a variety of risks and liabilities that can arise from their work. Here are some examples:
Construction contractors, including general contractors, subcontractors, and specialty contractors, typically need general liability insurance to protect themselves from liability claims related to physical injury, property damage, and other risks associated with construction work.
Landscaping contractors, including lawn care companies, tree service companies, and irrigation contractors, typically need general liability insurance to protect themselves from liability claims related to property damage, bodily harm, and other risks associated with landscaping work.
Cleaning contractors, including janitorial services and commercial cleaning companies, typically need general liability insurance to protect themselves from liability claims related to property damage, physical injury, and other risks associated with cleaning work.
Home improvement contractors
Home improvement contractors, including contractors that provide remodelling, renovation, or repair services, typically need general liability insurance to protect themselves from liability claims related to property damage, bodily harm, and other risks associated with home improvement work.
Consulting contractors, including management consultants, IT consultants, and marketing consultants, typically need general liability insurance to protect themselves from liability claims related to professional malpractice, errors or omissions, and other risks associated with consulting work.
How can an independent contractor be held liable?
An independent contractor can be held liable in several ways, depending on the nature of their work and the specific circumstances of the situation. Below you will find some possible examples:
Bodily injury or property damage
If the contractor causes a physical injury or property damage to someone else while performing work, they could be held liable for the resulting damages. For example, if a painter accidentally spills paint on a customer’s carpet and causes damage, they could be held liable for the cost of repairs or replacement.
Breach of contract
If the contractor breaches the terms of their contract with a customer or partner, they could be held liable for damages. For example, if a contractor fails to complete a project on time or within budget, they could be held liable for any resulting financial losses.
Negligence or professional malpractice
If the contractor fails to exercise reasonable care or skill in performing their work, they could be held liable for damages. For example, if an accountant makes a mistake on a customer’s tax return that results in penalties or fines, they could be held liable for the resulting damages.
Failure to comply with regulations or laws
If the contractor fails to comply with regulations or laws related to their work, they could be held liable for fines or other penalties. For example, if a construction contractor fails to obtain the necessary permits for a project, they could be held liable for fines or other penalties.
Employee injury or illness
If the contractor has employees, they could be held liable for workplace injuries or illnesses that occur while the employees are working.
Overall, independent contractors can be held liable in a variety of ways, and the specific risks and liabilities they face will depend on the nature of their work and the specific circumstances of their business operations. Therefore, it is crucial for independent contractors to carry appropriate insurance coverage and take steps to mitigate their risks and liabilities to protect themselves and their businesses.
Contact BrokerLink to learn more about how your business insurance can cover your independent contractors
While business insurance policies can provide coverage for many different risks and liabilities, it is important to understand the specific terms and conditions of your policy to determine whether your independent contractors are adequately protected. In some cases, your policy may provide coverage for certain actions, but it may be limited to specific circumstances.
If you regularly work with independent contractors, reviewing your policy carefully and considering adding an endorsement or rider to cover their actions while working on your behalf is important. Taking the time to understand your insurance coverage and working with an experienced insurance specialist who is familiar with your industry can help protect your business from unexpected events and liabilities.
At BrokerLink, our team of insurance experts can help you understand your policy coverage and provide guidance on how to ensure that your independent contractors are covered under your business insurance policy.