It takes hard work to become a licensed electrician, and it’s something that we take pride in. However, not all guys in the trade are actually licensed to perform electrical work. In the past year alone Craigslist caught a ring of unlicensed electricians advertising their services for hire, and Walmart has a 5 million dollar lawsuit over their heads for using electrical laborers without the proper licenses, which resulted in an electrocution death on a jobsite. Not only is using unlicensed electricians bad for business, but it is also a danger to the consumer. Continue reading to see how this affects you and what you can do to protect yourself.
How Does It Affect You As The Consumer?
There are several ways that hiring an unlicensed electrician can hurt you as the consumer. But most importantly, it is dangerous. If they don’t hold a license, there is a reason for it. Either they were too lazy to put the effort into obtaining one, or they didn’t have the skills, education and experience required to be granted one. Remember an electrical license is something you earn, not something handed to you.
This issue comes to light recently for a number of reasons, but the biggest concern with using unlicensed guys is safety. Yes it hurts the economy, and yes, it hurts the little guys like us making an honest living, but even more so it hurts the consumer. The average customer does not understand what it means to hold an electrical license and how important that it is to their safety when it comes to electrical work. These unlicensed “electricians” (as they like to call themselves) not only lack the license to perform the work they are quoting, but they also lack the education and often times experience, as well. In addition to that, they typically do not carry insurance either. So when something goes wrong, where does that leave you? You guessed it. You are on the hook for someone else’s mistake. God forbid they got hurt on your property while performing the job they weren’t qualified to do in the first place. Not only will you have paid them to do the work (good luck fighting that in small claims) but your insurance carrier will then have to fight the injury claim they could place on your homeowners insurance. Think I’m kidding? Run a quick google search and read the horror stories for yourself. Even if your insurance carrier doesn’t pay the claim, they still had to fight the allegations on your behalf. What do you think that does to your premium?
How To Avoid Hiring Unlicensed Contractors
While it is tempting to hire the guy who’s price is $1000 cheaper than the other guys, it is often times just what it seems...too good to be true. It is easy for these unlicensed guys to quote the job at half of what the real deal companies are quoting, either because they aren’t pulling permits (because they can’t) or they don’t have general liability and workers compensation insurance. In most cases, it’s not one or the other, but both that drive their costs down. There is however a sure fire way to make sure that the electrician you choose to hire is licensed is to ask for a copy of their current electrical license, or their license number. You can even look them up here using their license number to make sure that they are licensed in the State of Massachusetts. The next key to making sure that you are using a reputable electrical contractor is to as for a copy of their current Certificate of Insurance. This certificate will show what they hold for insurance, the policy effective dates and the amount of coverage they have. If the electrician you are contemplating hiring does not carry general liability and workers compensation coverage, don’t hire them.
Not to toot my own horn here, but at Corrao Electric we hold a current Master’s Electrical License, and carry General Liability and Workers Comp insurance. It seems that more often than not I hear people say “good for you!” as if we are doing something exceptional, when in fact we are simply doing what is required! If all the electricians out there would just get on board and start playing by the rules we could level the playing field and stop competing on price, but rather compete on talent of the trade. See what the problem is here folks....need I say more?
Just be sure that when you are looking for an electrician for your electrical project that you make sure they have a current and active license in the state the work will be performed in. Also, make sure that they have general liability and workers compensation coverage. Lastly, always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, often times it is.
When it comes to electrical work keep in mind - Cheap Electrical Work Causes Fires. Always Hire A Licensed Electrician!
Kenny Corrao, Owner
Corrao Electric Co., Inc.