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General Contractor

Tennessee general contractor license and insurance requirements

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By Matt Crawford
Jan 24, 2021 min read

If you want to get a Tennessee general contractor, you'll need to meet a few primary requirements set by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Board for Licensing Contractors. 

Here's a quick rundown of the general contracting licensing information you need to know in Tennessee:

  • How to get your general contractor license in Tennessee
  • General contractor license requirements in Tennessee
  • The insurance your business needs to operate in Tennessee

How to become a contractor in Tennessee 

If you want to get your license and start your own general contracting business, you must make sure you have all of your documents in order. Tennessee requires financial statements for all applicants, a letter of reference and proof of workers' compensation and general liability insurance

You'll also need to establish your business and file it with the Tennessee Secretary of State's Office. With your paperwork ready, you can begin the application process. 

Everyone applying for a general contractor license in Tennessee will have to take and pass the state's Business and Law exam. Additionally, depending on what sort of license classification you are applying for, you might also need to take a particular trade exam. Each of these exams costs $55. 

Once your application is set, you can submit it with the $250 fee. Then, you wait for the board to approve you and issue your license.

What are the requirements to have a general contractor license in Tennessee?

The State of Tennessee requirements for applicants who want a general contractor license, including:

  • Passing the Tennessee Business and Law exam; you may also need to pass additional trade exams.
  • A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Licensed Public Accountant (LPA) must review or audit your financial statement in the 12 months leading up to your application.
  • One letter of reference from a past client or employer or a code official who has inspected your work.
  • A certificate of insurance with a minimum of $100,000 of general liability insurance and proof of workers' compensation insurance.
  • Complete an interview with the board.

Once you're ready to submit your application, you will need it notarized. You will also have to submit a $250 fee along with your application. You must postmark your application by the 20th day of the month before the next scheduled board meeting. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the following meeting cycle.

General contractor license types

There are three primary types of Tennessee general contractor licenses you can apply for:

  1. Contractor: This covers bidding or working on any project, valued over $25,000 or more, directly with the owner of that project.

2. Subcontractor: Any subcontractors working with a contractor on plumbing, HVAC, roofing, electrical and mechanical projects with a value of $25,000 or more. Subcontractors on masonry projects with a value of $100,000 or more.

3. Construction Management: Any construction management on a project with a value of over $25,000.

Tennessee also sets monetary limits on licenses. The limits are based on a ten times multiple of whatever is less, your working capital or net worth. For example, if your net worth on your financial statements is $10,000, then your license will have a monetary limit of $100,000, and you will not be able to bid on projects above this amount. 

How long does it take to get a general contractor license?

It can take a few months to get your general contractor license in Tennessee. So, be sure to plan ahead. Also, note that you'll need to include time to prepare the necessary paperwork and register and pass the required exams. 

Once your application is submitted, it should take anywhere from four to six weeks. Some applicants will require an interview with a member of the board during one of the regularly scheduled meetings. This interview is informal and typically is only around 30 minutes. The availability of these interviews can depend on the calendar and the schedule of the board meetings.

It's possible to waive the interview requirement if you submit your application fully complete and in order. That can potentially speed up the process by a few weeks.

Insurance requirements for Tennessee General Contractors

Tennessee requires general contractors to have active general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. All business-owned vehicles must also be covered by commercial auto insurance.

General liability insurance for Tennessee contractors

General liability insurance can help your general contracting business protect itself against claims involving property damage or third-party injury. It can help pay for medical expenses if a client is injured while they are on a job site or repair and replacement costs if property belonging to someone else is damaged.

Commercial auto insurance for general contractors

Commercial auto insurance can provide coverage for vehicles that you use for your general contracting business. It offers financial protection if you or your employees are involved in an accident or injured while driving. 

How Next Insurance helps Tennessee general contractors

Next Insurance offers a seamless option for general contractors to get a quote, purchase coverage and access their certificate of insurance online in less than 10 minutes.

We’re 100% dedicated to helping small businesses and self-employed professionals find customized coverage. Our licensed, U.S.-based insurance providers are standing by to help at every step of the process.

Get a free instant quote today.

Matt Crawford image
By Matt Crawford
Matt Crawford is Associate Content Director at Next Insurance and a small business insurance specialist.
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