Contractors and subcontractors are the two professionals needed for small and big projects. For example, a cabinet maker might be hired as the contractor for crafting the expensive cabinets of a hotel. And in case this cabinet maker doesn’t do an installation, then a cabinet installer might be hired as a subcontractor.
You may be thinking about taking on one of these roles yourself or maybe you want to start your own business and need to know what you have to have in place before you do. Either way, there are certain liabilities involved in the construction project, IT project, or any other undertaking, and securing the right insurance can make sure both you and your small business are protected. The first matter of business is to understand contractor vs subcontractor and dive deeper into what’s the difference. You can then decide on how you can better protect yourself as a contractor or subcontractor for masonry, electrical installation, app development, or any other projects.
Here’s a table that summarizes the difference between a contractor and a subcontractor:
|Hired directly by the company that owns the project||Hired by the contractor not the company that owns the project|
|Oversees the overall completion of the project||Completes the tasks assigned by the contractor. Not concerned with other tasks regarding the project|
|Liable to the company that owns the project||Liable to the contractor not the company that owns the project|
|May provide advice on how the project should be undertaken||May provide advice but not directly to the owner of the project but through the contractor who acts as an intermediary|
|Bears the burden of the entire project when delays or cancellations due to issues occur||Only bears the burden to tasks issued by the contractor in case issues occur|
So what is a contractor? When you think of a contractor you’re right if you picture a plumber or an electrician. But note that the term doesn’t apply to professionals in the construction industry. In reality, contractors are persons or companies that apply for a project contract posted by construction firms, IT firms, and other big businesses. These contractors can then receive compensation for the work done. Moreover, contractors may also hire subcontractors to meet deadlines or ensure the quality of output. Aside from asking what are contractors, you should also wonder what they do in practice. There are four basic functions a contractor has, which are as follows:
Establishing and securing a contract-All contractors must bid for a project, which entails marketing services by showing a work portfolio and price range. Once a contract for the work is in place, then you can get started tackling the project
Providing advice-Contractors provide advice on how a project should be done in the most efficient, effective, and safest method possible
Handing over a finished project-Contractors are also in charge of delivering a finished project to the client. They also conduct evaluations to test the completed output before informing the client that it’s ready to be utilized or released
The contractor is the one ultimately responsible for delivering the final project and managing it to completion. Usually, a contractor will oversee the entire project even though they have most of their experience in a single trade. This is the point where they may reach out to a subcontractor for assistance.
A subcontractor, on the other hand, is someone who will help a contractor complete a certain project or job. They can be companies or individuals who the contractor reaches out to and hires for assistance.
All hired help for a project can be considered subcontractors meaning that developers, consultants, and skilled professionals commonly working on behalf of contractors are perfect examples. Here are the most common types of subcontractors:
Electrical installation subcontractor
Programming and app design subcontractor
CCTV and alarm subcontractor
For an easier explanation on what is a subcontractor, the subcontractor will report directly to the contractor. The most common subcontractor responsibilities are as follows:
Craft designs and submit them to the contractor for approval
Ensure that projects are undertaken in accordance to the approved design and specifications of the contractor
Meet deadlines and other milestones according to the plans set by the contractor
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Additional terms you may hear thrown around in the business are contract labor and subcontractor, so what’s the difference? Typically, contract labor is when a contractor works within a signed agreement to deliver a completed project to a client. They are in charge of the logistics and materials and need to figure out labor needs and get the help they require to get it done.
A subcontractor is going to carry out the work for the contractor and can either be part of a business or work on their own independently. Remember that these individuals or businesses have made agreements and arrangements with the contractor, instead of with the client or homeowner directly.
A prime contractor enters into project contracts provided by government agencies. He or she supervises the hiring of subcontractors, conducts evaluations, and controls the flow of materials and goods during the project. On the other hand, a subcontractor is an entity hired by a prime contractor. He or she undertakes the specific tasks assigned and informs the prime contractor of their completion.
In construction, a general contractor is a person or company that oversees the overall completion of a project. The management of finances, construction resources, evaluation of plans, and employee safety can fall on the shoulders of the general contractor aside from the employer.
On the other hand, subcontractors are entities hired by a general contractor to complete a particular task involving the construction project. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, consultants, and other types of extra help can be considered as examples.
You may have also heard someone addressed as an independent contractor on a job site. An independent contractor is a professional hired by a company to do a particular task. Otherwise called freelancers, independent contractors are hired on a per-project basis or as long as they’re needed. Subcontractors get a job if they’re hired by contractors. To make the distinction between subcontractor vs independent contractor easier, you can say that an independent contractor is similar to the usual contractor in that he or she is directly hired by the company whereas a subcontractor isn’t.
As a business owner or contractor who needs to hire help and workers, or subcontractors, to complete a job, you’re setting yourself up to take on extra risk. The reason is that you have liabilities with the client now and also with your subcontractors. What if they make a big mistake or get you into hot water? It’s vital you have the right insurance policies in place to protect yourself and your business if a problem should unfold. Contractor insurance can put your mind at ease and ensure that you can remain in business even if there is an issue to manage.
The next matter to address is regarding what liabilities contractors have in the first place. In the instance that you don't have insurance, you may then be liable for a lawsuit that comes your way due to your work or mistakes.
It can be anything from a workplace accident to poor results or even illegal behavior that occurs under your watch. Also, you may not secure a contract or job in the first place because most homeowners and commercial building owners will ask to see proof of insurance before they will even consider hiring you for a job.
As a contractor, here is what you’re going to need and secure before you try to win new business:
General liability insurance
Registration and certification or licensing
The primary reason you need insurance is that the construction business and industry is a risky field and role in general. There are always dangers present given the physical nature of the job and the different conditions and job sites you’ll be working within. Third parties can sue you for things such as bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage, for example. There are different options and packages to choose from that will protect you against such perils. Here’s a table below that shows what policies to get and the amount of coverage we recommend:
|Policy||Amount of Coverage Needed|
|General liability insurance||$1 million-$2 million|
|Professional liability insurance||$1 million|
|Excess liability insurance||$1 million-$2 million|
|Commercial property insurance||Equal to the projected value of business personal property|
|Workers compensation insurance||Equal to or higher than the workers comp benefits mandated by the labor law of your state|
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You may be sold on getting contractor insurance but are also wondering if and how to add subcontractors to your insurance policy. In most cases, they may already have their own types of insurance so be sure to ask and discuss this matter with them.
In the case that your subcontractors don’t have their own insurance policy and coverage, then you usually have the option to add them to yours. Once the task is complete, you can print out a certificate of insurance that you can then present to your clients so they feel comfortable working with you and your team.
Ready to get started as a contractor and build your business? There are some tips to consider as you get the ball rolling so you can hopefully find long-term success with your career.
For starters, it’s wise to learn the terms in greater detail and understand the difference between contractor and subcontractor, which should now be more clear for you. Next, you need to confirm your business is professional and secure, and that you maintain a good reputation in the industry by making sure you are insured and licensed.
Focus on making sure you secure the right contractor insurance plan and policy for you and your business today. Then you can begin marketing your services and skills to the community and networking to help build and grow your business as a contractor or subcontractor. The most important part is that you protect your business and yourself and make sure that your clients feel comfortable hiring you to complete the work.
Get a quote today through our marketplace and begin budgeting for the expense so that you are prepared to properly manage your finances and you don’t let this critical element and necessary task fall through the cracks. It’s an investment for your business that you’ll never regret and that will help you and your clients sleep more soundly. Click the “Get Quotes” button on this page to view and compare quotes quickly online.
Lonnie Bell Insuranker
Policy Type: Business Insurance
Company name: Employers Insurance
Use anyone except Employers. Period. They are non-transparent and shameful. After I complained long enough to warrant a call from a supervisor, the supervisor called back from a PRIVATE NUMBER (no caller ID), left a message that they are not reversing their decision (without any communication with me), and failed to leave a phone number for me to call back. She was hiding! They also fact find via email and phone calls, which is terrific for speed and communication. However, after setting a precedence of email or phone calls, they send time sensitive information via email, without any heads up... they are hoping you miss it and forfeit via expiration. Evil policies. Go elsewhere.
This place is an absolute joke of a company and should be ashamed of the way they conduct business. I was hurt on the job at the end of July and it took them just shy of 7 weeks to issue out a paycheck to me. Yes the amount was back dated but still. Not many have the luxury of not receiving a paycheck for almost 2 months. To top it all off, the original adjuster marked me down for the wrong state which caused a problem from the get go, I've had 3 different adjusters now since each one can't seem to figure out the simplicity of my claim. All my paperwork which includes, my job, house, and drs visits all are from the same state and city but yet some how I have been filed under a completely different state 1500 miles away. They do not answer your phone calls or emails no matter how many you leave. I've had to escalate my frustrations to the supervisors of each of these individuals in order to even get some kind of response. I've had more communication and information given to me about my claim from the customer service representatives then the actual adjusters.......... please tell me how that works?! A serious overhaul needs to happen here in order to serve your clients the way they deserve to be taken care of. 10/10 do not recommend this company to a single soul on earth
I have never had the displeasure of working with a more incompetent and disrespectful person in my life. I’m an injured worker and the adjuster that was assigned to my case was named Carrie Furgeson. In the past 6 weeks that I’ve been injured and out of work I have only been able to get ahold of her twice, not for lack of trying. I have left countless voicemails, countless emails, and she ignores them all. When I am finally able to get ahold of her I’m greeted with terrible customer service. She is rude, she talks over me and I’m hardly able to get a word in edgewise. She spelled my name wrong on my documents even after I spelled it for her properly countless times, this caused a whole new issue with my bank. I have bill collectors from the hospital calling me demanding payment and Carrie Furgeson won’t do a single thing to help, or to get them paid. All of my documentation is in Colorado, my job is in Colorado, my address is in Colorado, all my Dr offices and appointments have been in Colorado and Carrie still managed to hold my claim because she wasn’t sure what state she needed to file it under. It’s been 6 weeks since my Injury and my company still hasn’t received the wage paperwork to fill out so they can get me my correct wages. When she’s not ignoring me she’s answering my questions with “I don’t know” well I don’t know how she got this job, because apparently she doesn’t know anything about it. She is a disgusting morose individual inside and out and I genuinely wish her the worst in all of her future endeavors. I highly recommend you don’t use this company. Please if you are a business owner and your looking into this company please don’t use them. I’m sure they have the cheapest payment and that’s why companies use them in the first place, but you will be doing your employees a grave disservice by forcing them to venture into this absolute dumpster fire of a company. I would rate 0/5 if possible but 1 was the lowest I was allowed.
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