Landscaping Contractor Insurance: 5 Coverages You Need
As a landscape contractor, you perform a wide array of tasks to make your customer’s property look more appealing. Whether that involves installing a French drain, planting shrubs, or even installing water features in someone's backyard, the job doesn't come without its risks.
Additionally, if you work on any commercial properties, you might have to sign contracts and comply with insurance requirements before you can start the project (or before you can get paid).
Fortunately, in the world of contractor and construction insurance, landscapers can usually find quality insurance pretty easily—especially compared to many other trades. You can usually find the coverages you need at a competitive price from very reputable insurance companies.
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Below, you’ll find our guide to what coverages you need as a landscaping contractor:
What Coverages Do Landscaping Contractors Need?
Although your customers and the type of work you perform might require additional coverages, there are several policies that most landscaping contractors regularly need.
The first policy that most contractors purchase is the commercial general liability insurance policy. This policy covers most of the big liability issues that contractors face while running their businesses.
To summarize, this policy covers bodily injury or property damage that you cause to a third party (anyone that is not you or an employee) while you are running your business. This applies to claims that happen while you are performing the work—for example, you accidentally damage a client’s house with your heavy equipment). It also applies to claims that occur after the work is completed; as another example, let’s say you installed a water feature that malfunctioned and flooded the client's property, causing water damage.
General liability is one of the most important policies a contractor will purchase each year and is essential to a long-lasting business in this industry.
Contractors Tools & Equipment (Including Leased Equipment)
Most of the landscaping contractors we work with own (or lease) tools or equipment that they bring to different jobsites. They may include lawnmowers, Bobcats, and even excavation equipment; these tools and others are stolen or damaged in a variety of ways.
A contractors tools & equipment policy covers that equipment in the event they are damaged or stolen either from your office, your home, or even on the jobsite.
Most landscape contractors usually have some kind of work truck or van they use to haul equipment between different client sites.
If the vehicle is registered to the business—or you have employees that regularly drive it—you need a commercial auto policy to cover the liability resulting from auto accidents.
LandesBlosch Tip: Unlike a personal auto policy, trailers are not automatically covered for liability unless the trailer is specifically listed on the policy. Sometimes trailers under a certain size are covered, but a good rule is to just add the trailer to your insurance before you use it.
You can also add physical damage to this policy to cover any damage that happens to the vehicle, whether you or someone else are responsible
If you have any employees, chances are your state government requires that you carry workers compensation insurance. This policy covers the medical bills and lost wages of an employee that is injured on the job while working for your company.
Unlike liability insurance, many laws around worker injury that say regardless of fault—even if your employee was being reckless—you are responsible for taking care of their injuries.
For this reason, workers compensation is necessary in an industry where your employees might be operating equipment, digging, lifting heavy objects, working in the heat, and so on.
Errors and Omissions Liability (For Design-Build Contractors)
If you do any landscape design, we recommend that you purchase an errors and omissions liability policy. This policy would cover any professional mistakes you make during the design of the project.
For example, you might be involved in the design and construction of a retaining wall. After the project is completed, the retaining wall starts to crack because of faulty material from the supplier.
It is important to note that not all contractors need this coverage. Often, if you aren't doing much design work, you can add a light version to your general liability policy for a very minimal cost.
Insurance Tips For Landscape Contractors
If you do commercial work, make sure you buy "blanket endorsements."
If you do any kind of commercial work (including apartment complexes, HOAs, and condos), purchase all the endorsements you will need for the year by purchasing "blanket" endorsements. This allows you to have unlimited additional insureds on your policy (as long as it is contractually required of you to add them as an additional insured). The same situation applies to a waiver of subrogation endorsements.
Purchasing a blanket endorsement for most of your requirements will save you time and money throughout the policy period. Generally, if you have more than three certificate requests per year, this method will work best for you.
Make sure you have and communicate exactly what type of pool work you will be doing.
Operations involving the construction, repair, or maintenance of pools is not a problem for an experienced insurance firm. You just need to be upfront and direct with the broker that you are working with, since it changes which insurance companies that will quote you.
This will save you a lot of time in the quoting process, and you will likely get a better quote by having a detailed description of all the pool work you are performing, as well as how much of your business it comprises.
Get an umbrella policy for certain activities.
Certain activities are more hazardous than others; for example, mowing a yard does not have the same risks as installing a sprinkler system. In our years of quoting and working with landscaping companies, we have drilled down some activities that can lead to large claims that warrant an umbrella policy.
These operations involve:
- Using heavy equipment around buildings
- Installing sprinkler systems
- Constructing retaining walls
Any of these activities could result in a claim higher than $1,000,000, and we would recommend purchasing higher limits of liability on your insurance policies (an umbrella).
Landscaping contractors have unique risks in the construction industry, but these risks are very manageable with the right insurance policies. If you are looking for insurance for your landscaping business, feel free to give us a call. We can help you find commercial insurance for your business and choose the right policy.
You can also get an online quote through our website for general liability, workers compensation, commercial auto, and more.
About The Author: Austin Landes, CIC
Austin is an experienced Commercial Risk Advisor specializing in property & casualty risk management for religious institutions, real estate, construction, and manufacturing.
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