Adding DBA’s, Contracting without a License & Worker’s Compensation Alternatives

While we often share answers offering good news to contractors in a jam sometimes it’s ‘un- possible’. Common wisdom says most rules have an ‘exception’ but you shouldn’t ever count on getting a second, and sometimes you just can’t fix what is ‘brokered’…



Q:   I am a Sole Owner, roofing contractor with no current employees. I missed a payment to State Fund and they cancelled my policy. At this point they completed another routine audit and they say I owe them $43,000. I don’t have that kind of money.


They say they won’t insure me until I pay it. If this is the case my license is now suspended and I can’t work until I have Worker’s Comp and they are the only company who writes for small roofing companies. What can I do to get my licensed un-suspended so I can get back to work?  If I can’t work I won’t be able to pay that and I will need to go out of business


A: Thank you for contacting Capitol Services.  Your situation is an unfortunate one because it is my understanding that State Fund is the major market for small roofing companies and without any employees, it is unlikely that you will be able to obtain a policy elsewhere.  Since roofing contractors are required to have Worker’s Compensation Insurance, even with no employees, the CSLB will not ‘un-suspend’ your license until you have a new policy in place.  This insurance requirement is very heavily enforced for roofing contractors.


If it is at all possible for you to put someone on payroll, opening the door to policies at other potential insurers, then you can contact an insurance company other than State Fund to write you a new policy.  Or, I see that you have a “C-33” Painting classification on your license. As an option, and I have to assume that you don’t want to do this, you could remove the “C-39” Roofing classification from your license so that the Worker’s Comp insurance is not required, and just operate your painting business.


I’m sorry that I can’t give you better news, but unfortunately there just aren’t many options for small roofing companies when it comes to Worker’s Comp.


Q:  I have a sole owner license issued in the name of Smith Construction.  I’d like to do business as West Coast Builders, but I’d also like to keep the original name on the license since it’s been around so long and many of my old customers know me as Smith Construction.  Can I change my business name to Smith Construction dba West Coast Builders?


A: I understand your predicament – you may not be completely happy with your original name choice, but you want your returning customers to be able to find you.  But, since you are a Sole Proprietor, Smith Construction is already considered a dba, so you cannot add a second dba of West Coast Builders to the license.


Q: I am a solar broker, meaning I sell solar energy system to residential and small commercial clients, as well as design the system.  Can I hire a sub-contractor (specialty/electrical) to do the installation for my clients, without having General / Prime contractor license myself, since I would not provide any kind of fabrication or labor?


A:  Thank you for contacting Capitol Services Inc.  Even if you are sub-contracting out the work to a specialty contractor, you cannot sign contracts for any type of solar/electrical installation without a contractor’s license.  Both the individual/entity signing the contract as well as the individual/entity performing the work need to have the appropriate contractor’s license.