Wisconsin general contractor license and insurance requirements

Wisconsin general contractor license and insurance requirements

Kim Mercado
By Kim Mercado
Jan 23, 2024
1 min read

In Wisconsin, general contractors are also called dwelling contractors. To get your Wisconsin general contractor license you must take an exam, file an application, and get the proper liability and bond insurance.

Other strict requirements include that you own or partner in a general contracting business, provide proof of financial responsibility, and pay all associated fees as mandated by the  Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS).

Keep reading to learn more about:

Wisconsin general contractor requirements

There are two types of Wisconsin general contractor license requirements.

First, anyone who intends to build, improve, or alter a one- or two-family dwelling or accessory building must have a dwelling contractor qualifier license (or work under someone who does). The qualifier license is in your name and requires 12 hours of continuing education every two years to renew it.

You will also need a dwelling contractor license if you own a construction business. The license is held under the business name and does not require continuing education. However, you must renew it yearly.

To get the dwelling contractor license:

  1. Complete your Wisconsin dwelling contractor certification initial qualifier course, which includes 12 hours of pre-license education.
  2. Set up your DSPS Electronic Safety and Licensing (eSLA) account where you can submit your application and pay fees. This is optional but it can streamline your experience.
  3. Send in your qualifier application with the necessary information, fees, and proof of your qualifier course. You will need:
    1. Business FEIN number
    2. Business name and title of representative
    3. U.S. citizen or proof of lawful presence
    4. Proof of worker’s compensation insurance
    5. Proof of financial liability, such as a bond or liability policy
    6. Exam certification
    7. Application fees
  4. Wait for the DSPS to review, process and approve your application.

Like other states, Wisconsin issues licenses for dwelling contractors at the state level. However, some areas may have local jurisdiction requirements. Make sure you know whether you need any additional permits, laws, or regulations before you begin your project.

Once approved, you can begin working as a Wisconsin general contractor.

Insurance for Wisconsin dwelling contractors

Wisconsin general contractors must maintain minimum liability insurance coverage to fulfill the license’s financial responsibility requirement. Here are some common types of Wisconsin business insurance contractors usually consider having.

General liability insurance

Wisconsin requires dwelling contractors to carry $250,000 in general liability insurance to ensure proof of financial responsibility. It protects your business from accidents, injuries, or property damage that may occur during the course of business as a dwelling contractor.

Workers’ compensation insurance

Dwelling contractors must provide workers’ compensation insurance to their employees in case of job-related injuries or illnesses. Generally, workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and lost wages.

Tools and equipment insurance

Tools and equipment insurance is an essential coverage for dwelling contractors. It covers loss or damage for hand tools, power tools and other equipment that a contractor uses regularly.

Commercial auto insurance

Commercial auto insurance can protect the vehicles you use for business. A policy can safeguard against accidents or damage you experience while on the job.

Commercial property insurance

Commercial property insurance can keep your business running smoothly. It protects against potential losses due to property damage, theft and other unexpected events.

Wisconsin general contractor license renewal requirements

Wisconsin general contractor license renewal requires submitting the $40 renewal fee using the state’s eSLA portal. This license doesn’t require continuing education, but you must renew it yearly.

The dwelling contractor qualifier license is valid for two years. It requires completing 12 hours of approved continuing education, providing evidence of completion, and the $40 fee.

If you’re restarting a general contracting business and your license expired more than a year ago, you can reinstate it by submitting an application and supporting documentation, along with a $65 fee.

Bond requirements for Wisconsin dwelling contractors

Proof of financial responsibility is necessary to be a Wisconsin dwelling contractor. If you skip general contractor liability insurance, you can file a bond of at least $25,000. The state will issue you a restricted certification if your bond is less than that.

How NEXT helps support Wisconsin general contractors

NEXT specializes in coverage for construction professionals, and we only sell small business insurance. We can help you meet Wisconsin dwelling contractor licensing requirements and help protect your business.

We’ve helped thousands of contractors find affordable insurance packages tailored to their needs.

Dwelling contractors can apply online for Wisconsin general contractor insurance and get a certificate of insurance within minutes, whether you’re at the office or on a job site.

Start a free quote with NEXT.

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Kim Mercado
About the author
Kim Mercado is a content editor at NEXT's blog, where she writes and edits posts for small business owners. She enjoys helping entrepreneurs solve their business challenges and learn about insurance. Kim has contributed to Salesforce, Samsara and Google.

You can find Kim trying new recipes and cheering the 49ers.

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