The Hidden Cost of Unlicensed Operators

Jan. 21st, 2020 by W Scott McAdam Jr.

"When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do."

~John Ruskin, 19th Century art critic

In the landscaping industry, cheap pricing is a big temptation with a hidden (and potentially much bigger) cost. Oftentimes, these operators are unlicensed and uninsured, which is how they "pass along the savings" to the customer. But the largest risk is when they do not operate with liability or worker's compensation insurance.

So, when you hire them, they effectively become your employee and it is your responsibility to provide a safe working environment and coverage in the event of an injury. If an unlicensed and uninsured contractor gets injured while working for you, they can sue for damages, including medical expenses, legal fees, and lost wages.

Think your homeowner's policy will cover this? Think again, as this type of incident is not usually covered.

Be sure to ask any contractor about licensing and insurance coverage-and do it before they start work. As the adage goes: If a low price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

"If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better." ~-Ruskin

This installment of "Ask the Plant Expert" was published in the January 15, 2020 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, the Forest Park Review and the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.