As a small business owner of a landscaping business, you have many responsibilities that keep you busy. You’re in charge of the day-to-day operations of your business and have expensive equipment to maintain. You may also have numerous contractual requirements, such as Certification of Insurance requirements, to manage. If you have a team of employees to assist in your lawn care operations, you also have a responsibility to protect them while they’re on the job.
Landscaping insurance can provide coverage for your business and its employees in the event something unforeseen happens. Depending on various factors, you may need a group of policies to protect you, your business, and your employees. Some of your clients may not allow you to complete a job or will hold payment if you cannot provide evidence of adequate insurance.
Let’s dive right in and learn more about landscaping insurance and which policies might be right for your business.
What Type of Businesses Need Landscaping Insurance?
The landscaping industry encompasses a range of lawn care businesses. While one company might focus more on general lawn care, another might specialize in rock gardens or pruning trees.
Landscaping policies will generally cover the following services:
- General lawn care and gardening landscapers
- Landscape grading businesses
- Hardscape landscapers
- Landscape architects and designers
- Landscape contractors
- Lawn irrigation and sprinkler services
- Landscape sprayers, and herbicide and pesticide applications
- Tree pruning and care
You’ll need to assess the specific duties of your landscaping business. For instance, if you perform extensive tree service work that entails removing large limbs or entire trees, you may need to go with a more comprehensive policy for tree service businesses rather than landscaping insurance.
Given your tree operations are specialized, it’s always a best practice to work with an expert in our field with specialized coverages to address your unique needs.
Every state requires certification or licensure to some extent for landscaping businesses. Some states also require proof of landscaping insurance before they’ll issue a license.
Do I Really Need Insurance for My Landscaping Business?
Look at it this way. You’ve invested everything you have into your business. It takes years to grow a successful landscaping business and establish yourself as a reputable landscaping professional.
One accident can impact your bottom line and negate all the years of sweat equity you put into your business.
It may only take one event to significantly disrupt your business’s operations and cash flow.
The following questions should put it more in perspective for you:
- Do you have other people working for you?
- Do you or your employees drive to worksites with work equipment in the vehicle?
- Do you or workers operate heavy machinery or equipment?
- Is there even a remote possibility that your landscaping company’s work could damage something nearby or accidentally injure another person? (even a flying rock from a lawnmower could end up putting someone’s eye out).
- Do you bid on landscaping work for other businesses? (most will want to be sure you’re adequately insured, and even most homeowners are savvy enough to inquire about liability insurance for your business).
Perhaps a better question would have been, “What can landscaping insurance do for me and my business?”
Benefits of Landscaping Insurance:
- Offers protection against risks you may not have thought about
- Helps ensure your present as well as your future liabilities
- Protects you in the event of a lawsuit
- Enables you to establish a better reputation as a landscape professional
- Protects your financial interests should something happen
Perhaps most of all, landscape insurance will give you peace of mind knowing that in almost any eventuality, you’re protected.
Landscaping exposes you and your employees to certain risks that can lead to an accident or a loss of some of your expensive business assets. An incident could potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars or more in losses.
Whether your landscaping business is a small operation or a larger one, insurance is vital to secure your business and financial health while also providing for your workers when they need it.
Primary Types of Landscaping Insurance
Your landscape business will have different insurance needs from another, based on the individual services you offer. At a minimum, your landscaping insurance should likely include:
- Commercial General Liability Insurance
- Commercial Automobile Insurance
- Commercial Property Insurance
- Inland Marine Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Employment Practices Liability Coverage
- Excess Liability Insurance
Depending on your particular landscaping business, you might need each type of insurance. The good news is that some insurance companies will combine the different kinds of landscaping coverage into one easy-to-manage policy.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Commercial General Liability Insurance
Commercial liability insurance is a general policy that covers other people besides you or one of your employees.
What will it cover?
It’ll cover damage to a property or pay for health-related costs due to an injury or death to a third-party, such as a customer or a bystander. One of the most important things you can do to protect your business is to have a commercial liability insurance policy.
Potential scenario: Suppose you’re working at a high-end home, creating a landscape plan from scratch. You’ve mapped out garden beds, and you’re ready to dig. Only within minutes, you hit and rupture a gas line. You move quickly to have your employees back away, but one of them throws a lit cigarette to the ground before they realize what’s going on.
The cigarette engulfs the area in a fire and destroys part of the home. Because it was your business’s error in hitting the fuel line, you are legally responsible for the repairs or replacement of the house and anyone who gets hurt or killed due to the incident.
What would happen if you didn’t have insurance to cover it? Commercial liability insurance can prevent you from going under while paying for repairing or rebuilding the home, medical care for third parties, and any legal fees and settlements that would undoubtedly arise from the event.
Commercial Automobile Insurance
You’ll want to be sure you have comprehensive automobile coverage for any vehicles used in your business operations.
What will it cover?
If you or one of your workers is responsible for an automobile accident while driving any company vehicle, having a commercial auto liability policy would help pay for damages or injuries to other parties.
While many states have a minimum amount of coverage you should have, it’s in your best interest to get more than the minimum requirements to protect your business. Obtain limits as high as you can afford for both liability and comprehensive coverage to your vehicles.
Also, be aware that your personal vehicle insurance won’t cover you or your drivers when driving to and from a landscaping job.
Potential scenario: To illustrate an example of how commercial vehicle insurance can benefit you, consider the possibility that while driving a company truck, one of your employees swerves to avoid a dog in the road but hits an oncoming vehicle in the other lane. Your landscaping company would likely be held liable for any damages and injuries occurring in the other vehicle.
Commercial Property Insurance
You’ve invested a lot in your landscaping businesses’ assets, such as lawnmowers, tillers, excavation equipment, nursery inventory, and other items. If you’re a sizable business, you may have been able to work towards having a commercial building or property to store it all.
Any property or business equipment faces certain risks, such as theft, storm damage, fire, etc. If any of your business property is damaged or stolen, a commercial property insurance policy can help pay to replace it.
What will it cover?
Any physical asset of your building, be it your business’s building, equipment, or inventory, will generally be covered by a commercial property policy.
Potential scenario: You store your business equipment during off-hours in your commercial building downtown. You come in after a long weekend, only to discover all of your equipment gone. There’s evidence that intruders broke locks and entered your building, leaving them with an easy way to escape with your businesses’ inventory and equipment.
Commercial property insurance would likely cover most of it if you had the proper coverage.
Inland Marine Insurance
You might be thinking, “What does inland marine have to do with my landscaping business? I don’t do work on the water or boats.”
Contrary to its name, inland marine insurance really doesn’t have anything to do with either water or boats. Inland marine insurance is actually for business equipment that you move on land from your commercial site to a client’s place or a job site.
What will it cover?
If your business’s equipment or tools are damaged, destroyed, or stolen while being moved, inland marine insurance will usually cover those losses. Landscaping equipment is expensive. If you bring a computer to your job site and it gets damaged, inland marine insurance will likely cover that too. It’s good to know there’s insurance to protect your investments.
The critical thing to remember is that every insurance company has a different policy regarding inland marine coverage.
Depending on the other types of insurance you carry, it may or may not make sense to get inland marine coverage for your landscaping business. It’s best to discuss the particulars of your business with an experienced tree insurance professional to evaluate the specific needs of your business.
Potential scenario: You stop and eat breakfast on the way to your first job site of the day. When you return to your work truck, you notice tools missing from the back of the truck. Inland marine insurance would likely reimburse you to replace the stolen tools that you were moving.
Consider the amount of money you probably spent purchasing all of your equipment and tools for your landscaping business. If you had to suddenly replace all or most of it, how much of a hardship would that be for you?
Thankfully, with inland marine insurance, it’s one less thing you have to worry about.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Given the landscaping business risks, if you have employees working for you, workers’ compensation would be a wise and necessary addition to your insurance coverage.
Nearly every state requires employers to carry workers’ comp for their workers. What’s more, when you bid on a job, a potential client is likely to ask if you have coverage for your employees.
What will it cover?
Workers’ comp pays for missed wages and medical expenses for injuries and illnesses an employee gets while working for you.
Workers’ comp typically also includes employer’s liability coverage if one of your workers decides to sue you over an injury or work-related illness. This type of liability insurance will usually pay for court costs related to a lawsuit, attorney’s fees, and any settlement arising out of the suit.
Potential scenario: Your landscaping crew works hard to complete a landscaping job for a new medical complex.
Suddenly, it begins to rain, and as one of your crew members begins to make his way out of a raised garden bed he just dug up, he slips in the mud and hits his head on concrete.
Your employee has a head injury that proves non-fatal, but he develops a chronic neck and back issue from his fall over the coming days and weeks, putting him out of work for an undetermined amount of time. He’s concerned about how he will pay his bills and feed his family.
Would you be able to take care of him without workers’ comp? Thankfully, you don’t have to think about the potential negative ramifications for your business because you were wise enough to have adequate workers’ compensation insurance to cover this eventuality.
Employment Practices Liability Coverage
Employee-filed lawsuits are on the rise. Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) is a type of commercial insurance that protects your business from lawsuits that may be brought on by one of your employees. It also offers protection to your employees under certain conditions like:
- Sexual harassment claims
- Wrongful termination
- Drug testing
- Employee benefits mismanagement
- Invasion of privacy
- Breach of contract
- Emotional or mental damage
What will it cover?
EPLI will cover the costs of defending your landscaping business and any employees involved against the previous types of claims. The problem is that even when you and your employees are blameless in a situation, the burden of proving your innocence in these types of claims is expensive to prove in court. The average cost of settling out of court is $75,000, but the average award in a court of law is $217,000. The truth is that many of these types of claims are retaliation by an employee to get their employer back for something.
If you have other types of insurance for your landscaping business, like general liability insurance, there’s a chance some claims might be included in that policy, depending on who you’re insured with. But, most general liability policies exclude EPLI type claims.
A dedicated Employee Practices Liability policy offers expanded coverage. It will usually reimburse your business for legal expenses to defend your case and also pay any settlements that might arise from a court decision.
It’s also important to point out that legal expenses are usually covered whether or not your company wins any lawsuits brought against you by an employee. In the meantime, it’s a wise idea to have policies in place to prevent these types of claims and have the ability to prove to a court that you are proactive in these types of matters.
Potential scenario: Suppose your employee misses work repeatedly. You’ve been patient and allowed them the time needed to square their life away, but the time comes that you feel you have to let them go to hire a more reliable employee. Before you know it, the ex-employee is filing a discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit against your business. An EPLI policy would pay for defense-related expenses as well as any judgments against you.
Excess Liability Insurance
An Excess Liability policy offers coverage limits in excess of another liability policy, such as general liability or umbrella liability coverage. It offers an additional layer of protection by having additional limits to your existing policy or policies.
For instance, let’s say you have a general liability policy that has a limit of $1 million. An excess liability insurance policy could possibly increase your coverage by another $500,000 to $1 million.
What will it cover?
Your landscaping business will have different needs from other businesses. For instance, if you have employees, you’ll likely need Workers’ Comp insurance, and if you have commercial vehicles, you’ll need commercial auto insurance. And, if you deal more with tree service, you’ll need more comprehensive coverage from every angle. At a minimum, you’ll also want general liability protection for your business.
The point is that a single expensive lawsuit could easily max out the limits on those policies, leaving you with having to find a way to pay the rest.
But, if you have an Excess Liability policy, it would kick in and help cover the rest. So when it comes right down to it, Excess Liability coverage brings you peace of mind in knowing that you’re covered from these types of financial challenges.
The important thing to remember is that the Excess Liability only applies to the type of coverage outlined in the policy. So you’ll want to consider your business’s unique interests and needs.
Depending on the policy, Excess Liability insurance could pay for:
- Injuries and property damage claims
- Legal fees and expenses, as well as lawsuits, as they relate to your business
- Added commercial vehicle insurance protection
- Other liability excesses over and above some of your primary policies
Potential scenario: Let’s say one of your employees runs a red light and causes an accident. The person in the other vehicle suffers extensive injuries and is out of work for months. They file a lawsuit against you, but your commercial vehicle insurance has a $500,000 limit. The court awards the injured party $1,000,000. There’s a $500,000 gap. Without an Excess Liability insurance policy, you’d have to figure out how to come up with the rest. But since you were smart enough to have excess liability coverage, your policy will kick in and pay the other half of the claim.
What Factors Will Determine my Premium Cost?
Each landscaping business has its own factors that will determine the premium. These can include:
- How many workers do you have on payroll?
- How large is your operation?
- Do you perform more minor jobs like general lawn care, or do you also remove trees?
- How much equipment and trucks do you have?
- Do you have a commercial building?
There are about as many questions as there are answers in determining your premium. But, generally speaking, most landscaping businesses can roll their primary coverage into one policy.
If you obtain coverage with the right insurance company, most of the time, they can offer you a customizable policy that covers most eventualities. NIP Group, for instance, provides customizable, specialized coverage for landscaping businesses and understands the unique needs that your company has.
Other Types of Insurance for Your Landscaping Business
There are other various types of coverage available to landscaping businesses. The type of insurance policies you’ll need for your business will depend on your particular job descriptions and the risks involved in performing them. These can include:
- Business Loss of Income Insurance
- Commercial Excess Insurance
- Cyber Insurance
- Errors and Omissions Insurance
- Employment Practices Liability
- Environmental Liability Insurance
- Flood Insurance
Protect Your Business With Landscaping Insurance
Any number of things can go wrong when working with equipment on someone else’s property.
You have your hands full just trying to run your business. The last thing you want is to be worried about replacing damaged or stolen equipment, lawsuits, or how you will pay for your employees or someone else if they get hurt.
Unfortunately, people can be unforgiving in such circumstances and understandably want to ensure they’re taken care of.
Thankfully, the simple solution is appropriate and adequate landscaping insurance for your business. It also pays to partner with an insurance company that specializes in providing coverage for landscape companies like yours.
There are many different types of commercial insurance coverage. But, customized and tailored coverage is vital to get the most out of your insurance policy and have the coverage you need when you need it.
An insurance intermediary like NIP Group is a great resource to learn more about landscaping insurance and the individual types of coverage that will work best for your business.