Real Estate

Can I ask the company that’s raising my cottage if they have liability insurance?

I am having my cottage raised for a new foundation. Even though I have asked, I haven’t been provided with anything in writing stating the company is insured for liability if something goes wrong. Isn’t it standard practice for them to produce this? I assume they have coverage, but I don’t want to nag them.

—Helen Harela, via e-mail

As the saying goes, “Never assume, for it makes the possibility of a horrible cottage-raising accident all the more likely.” Or something like that. No, seriously: It’s a completely reasonable request, so nag away.

According to Ross Robertson of Toronto’s R. Robertson Insurance, “The contractor should be happy to provide that information.”

And you’re smart to ask for proof. “Considering the nature of the work, I would say it’s very important,” says Mike Doran, branch manager at HJM Insurance & Financial Services in Meaford, Ont. He points out: “What if the cottage breaks in half while it’s being raised? Does the company have enough money in its bank account to buy you a new cottage?”

Todd Minor of Mason Insurance Brokers in Welland says the company simply needs to phone its broker and ask for a certificate of insurance that it can provide you. “We get calls every day for this. There’s no charge for it.”

Contractor Andrew Waddell, who owns Waddell Custom Homes & Cottages in Apsley, Ont.—a company that does building, renovations, and additions—says he provides clients with his policy number and insurance information if they ask, and “they should always ask.” Though he doesn’t recall ever having to produce a certificate, he would if somebody requested one.

Don’t let any work begin on the property until you’ve seen that proof of coverage, and make sure you keep your own insurance company in the loop.