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Handyman Liability Insurance in California: The Essentials

31 Aug 2023

If you’re a handyman in California, your work is essential to the lives and property of Californians and the economy. You keep our stores, apartments, residences, and crucial equipment running efficiently. While operating your handyman business can be gratifying, it carries significant risk. That’s why it’s vital to have handyman liability insurance.

Handyman liability insurance protects your handyman business from the everyday risks it faces. It typically includes coverage for damage to customers’ property, third-party bodily injury, and advertising injury. In California, you need a license to work on large projects, and in most cases, you need insurance to get a license. That’s why the right insurance coverage is important to protect your business and your livelihood.

Understanding Handyman Insurance in California

Handyman insurance protects against liability claims, property damage, and other handyman business risks. This section will discuss what handyman insurance is, why it is necessary, and what types of insurance you need to consider.

What is Handyman Insurance?

Handyman insurance is a type of commercial policy that covers individuals who provide repair, maintenance, and installation services for residential and commercial properties. This insurance protects handypersons from liability claims and property damage that may arise from their work.

Why is Handyman Insurance Necessary?

Handyman insurance is necessary because it protects you from significant loss if something goes wrong while working on a project. Without insurance, you could be liable for damage that occur during the course of your work, including injuries to others, damaged property, or other types of accidents.

Types of Insurance All Handyman Contractors Should Consider

There are several types of insurance for California handymen that you should consider, including:

  • General Liability Insurance: General Liability (GL) covers injuries and property damage that could occur during your work. Moreover, it includes coverage for court-awarded legal fees and settlements in the event of a successful lawsuit against you.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: This insurance covers medical bills and lost income if an employee gets injured.
  • Commercial Auto Insurance: Commercial Auto provides coverage for your trucks and vans primarily used for business purposes. If you use your personal vehicle for work, you may need to purchase commercial auto insurance.
  • Inland Marine Insurance (Tools & Equipment Coverage): Inland Marine insurance is a type of coverage that protects movable property, such as a contractor’s tools and equipment, and other goods and specialized items, while they are being transported over land, stored at various locations and job sites.
  • Excess Liability Coverage: Excess liability insurance, also known as umbrella insurance, provides an additional layer of liability coverage beyond the limits of underlying primary insurance policies like general liability, auto liability, or employer’s liability.
Handyman Licensing Requirements in California

In California, individuals working as handymen must obtain a license if they are involved in projects exceeding $500 in cost. Acquiring a contractor license necessitates completing the state examination and submitting a contractor surety bond to the CSLB. The specific prerequisites for activating the contractor license, including general liability and workers’ compensation insurance, depend on the entity type and whether the licensee intends to hire employees.

California’s Contractors State License Board regulates California’s construction industry. All contractors should visit their website at least once a year to ensure that their business complies with California’s regularly changing regulations.

Handyman Insurance Costs in California

Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance rates are influenced by several underwriting aspects that insurers assess to determine the level of risk a business presents. Some key factors include:

  1. Type of Business: The nature of the business and its operations significantly affects rates. Industries with higher inherent risks, such as construction or manufacturing, tend to have higher premiums.
  2. Annual Revenue: Insurers often consider a business’s annual revenue as it can indicate the potential scale of claims.
  3. Location: The geographic area where the business operates can impact rates due to regional differences in legal environments, risk factors, and claim histories.
  4. Size and Scale: The size of the business, including the number of employees, locations, and square footage, can influence rates.
  5. History of Claims: A business’s claims history is a significant factor. Frequent or severe past claims can lead to higher premiums.
  6. Risk Management Practices: Insurers may consider a business’s risk management efforts, safety protocols, and loss prevention measures. Companies that prioritize safety tend to receive more favorable rates.
  7. Coverage Limits: The limits of coverage chosen by the business will affect the premium. Higher limits typically result in higher premiums.
  8. Deductibles: The amount the business is willing to pay before the insurance kicks in can impact the premium. Higher deductibles often lead to lower premiums.
  9. Industry Regulations: Businesses subject to specific regulations or standards may have varying insurance needs and associated rates.
  10. Contractual Obligations: The business’s contractual obligations and agreements, including indemnity provisions, can affect rates.
  11. Employee Training: The level of training and qualifications of employees, especially in safety-sensitive industries, can influence rates.

It’s important to note that these factors can interact in complex ways, and insurers use underwriting models to evaluate the overall risk profile of a business. Each insurer might prioritize these factors differently, leading to variations in rates from one insurer to another. Companies can often work to improve their risk profile and potentially reduce rates by implementing effective risk management strategies and demonstrating a commitment to safety and loss prevention.

Importance of Certificates of Insurance

General liability insurance is paramount for handymen operating in California to safeguard their business from potential job-related accidents. Nonetheless, having liability insurance alone might not satisfy numerous project owners as they typically require evidence of insurance presented in the form of a Certificate of Insurance (COI).

A COI is a legal form that provides proof of insurance coverage. It shows that you have liability insurance and the coverage limits of your policy. It is essential to have a COI because it assures your clients that you have insurance coverage if you or an employee have any accidents or damage that might happen while you are working on their property.

When you get a COI, you want to ensure that it includes the following information:

  • Your business name and address
  • The name and address of the insurance company
  • The policy number and effective dates
  • The types of insurance coverage and the limits

Having a COI also shows that you are a professional and take your business seriously. It gives your clients peace of mind and reassures them that they work with a reliable and responsible handyman.

To get a COI, you must request one from your insurance broker or provider.

In summary, mere possession of liability insurance will not suffice for most project owners. Possessing evidence of insurance in the form of a COI is imperative. A COI is crucial as it assures clients of your insurance coverage and demonstrates your professionalism and reliability as a handyman. Furnishing this document to your clients before commencing work is essential, as failing to do so could lead to delays in subsequent owed payments upon project completion. Additionally, most insurance carriers will not issue a certificate or necessary endorsements once the project has reached completion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does handyman insurance cover in California?

Handyman insurance in California typically covers general liability, which protects your business in case of accidents that cause bodily injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury to a third party. It can also cover workers’ compensation, which benefits employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Additionally, consider adding commercial auto insurance if you use vehicles for business purposes.

Do I need a contractor license for a handyman service in California?

In California, handymen must carry a current and valid license for projects that exceed $500, as stipulated by the CSLB. This license is mandatory for anyone contracting to work on a project with a combined labor and materials value of $500 or more. By adhering to these state requirements, handymen can ensure compliance with regulations, professionalism, and client reliability. It’s crucial to note that having the necessary license proves a handyman’s credibility and expertise, promoting trust and confidence among clients.

Are California contractors required to carry liability insurance?

Yes, Certain California contractors are required to carry liability insurance. The minimum amount of coverage depends on the license type and the nature of work performed for your clients.


In conclusion, as a handyman in California, it is important to have liability insurance to protect yourself and your business from potential damages and lawsuits. Commercial Liability insurance can cover bodily injury, property damage, and legal fees, among other things.

While California may or may not require handymen to have liability insurance, coverage is vital for all handyman business owners to safeguard against unforeseen losses. Many clients and contractors require liability insurance before working with handymen.

Consider coverage limits, deductibles, and premiums when shopping for liability insurance. Finding the right policy for your needs and budget is important.

For more information regarding handyman insurance or to get a free quote, please contact our contractors’ insurance specialists at (866) 805-3800.

Fairbanks Insurance Brokers – California’s Ultimate Source for Discount Handyman Insurance!


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