Getting a Florida contractor license isn’t just a good idea to protect your business — it can also keep you out of jail.
From March 11 to December 16, 2019, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office conducted an undercover sting — dubbed “Operation House Hunters” — to arrest contractors who were performing work without a contractor’s license.
According to Sheriff Chad Chronister, the sting involved plainclothes detectives posing as homeowners who wanted to hire Florida contractors for work on their homes.
Many of the contractors caught by the sting were hired on social media sites, websites, and online job sites.
Operation House Hunters was prompted by an increase in complaints about contracting and construction fraud. It’s estimated that more than \$540,000 worth of work was performed by contractors without a Florida contractor’s license.
Whatever your opinion of the sting, one thing is clear: if you perform contracting or handyman work of any kind in the Sunshine State, you absolutely need a Florida contractor’s license.
Undercover stings to catch unlicensed contractors are surprisingly common; in fact, just last month, the Contractors State Licensing Board issued a warning to homeowners in California after police officers arrested nine unlicensed contractors.
Even if you’re doing all the right things as a contractor, all the news about these stings may make you nervous about performing your work. We understand, and that’s why we’re here to help. Take a look at the best tips to protect your contractor licensing business from running afoul of the law.
Get. Your. License.
Whether you consider yourself to be a contractor or a handyman, you need to get a contractor’s license. This license not only shows customers that you’re a trusted professional, but it also protects you against the kind of undercover stings that we just highlighted in this article.
Most states have different requirements for obtaining a contractor’s license, so it may be confusing to figure out how to get a license. Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you; check out our state-by-state guide on contractor licensing requirements.
Get contractor’s insurance.
In 99% of states, in order to get your contractor license, you need to carry business insurance. This is actually an umbrella term for a variety of policies that can protect your business in case of lawsuits and claims involving property damage, accidents, and more.
We usually recommend that contractors carry the following policies:
If you don’t currently have business insurance or you’re not sure you have enough coverage, don’t worry — we can help you with that! Just answer a few questions and compare business insurance quotes from top insurers that specialize in covering contractors.
Plus, if you need a little extra help, you can give our licensed insurance agents a call if you have questions about the required coverage you need in your state.
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Provide relevant info to your customers.
Police often advise homeowners to make sure that they check a contractor’s license number before hiring them to take on a project. That means, as a contractor, you should make it easy for your customers to check out the validity of your license and business insurance policy, as well as additional information like customer reviews, BBB ratings, and more.
We recommend putting this information on your website where potential customers can see it, as well as providing it in any contracts you ask your clients to sign. The more upfront you are with your information, the more likely it is that you not only land a project — you’ll also stay on the right side of the law.
Stay up-to-date with your insurance and licensing.
Your contractor license and insurance policy shouldn’t be treated as a one-and-done activity. In fact, we recommend regularly checking in on your insurance policy and license when you hire a new employee or begin offering a new service. These milestones may require quick changes to your contractor’s insurance policy or your contractor licensing, so it’s always good to stay on top of it.
What do you think of the recent stings in Florida and California against unlicensed contractors? Tell us in the comments below — we want to hear from you!
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!
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