By Stevens Lambert

Landscaping can be a dangerous job with some hazardous working conditions. Landscapers are frequently using heavy equipment like backhoes and graders and other equipment with lots of moving parts like mower and chainsaw blades. Ad­ditionally, all this equipment and the trucks and trailers you use to get your tools to the jobsite can be very expensive. On top of those dangers and expenses, you may be digging in some­one’s yard, what if one of your employees accidentally damages a foundation or breaks a gas line? How do you protect your employees, your equipment, and your business? The right com­mercial insurance tailored to the needs of landscapers can help.

Who needs landscaping insurance?

As you well know, there are many different types of landscap­ing, all can benefit from the right insurance coverage, here are a few examples and some of the reasons they need to be covered correctly:

  • Lawn care – Lawn care teams use expensive equipment like mowers, trimmers and blowers and have a higher risk for cuts requiring stitches, rollover injuries and repetitive motion and lifting injuries.
  • Lawn treatment – If, in addition to lawn care, your team treats lawns, you are dealing with dangerous chemicals that could, if not used correctly, cause injuries to customers or employees.
  • Tree and stump removal – If using chainsaws and trimmers is not dangerous enough, adding falling limbs and heights to the mix creates an even more dangerous workplace.
  • Hardscaping – When building patios and retaining walls you are required to lift heavy boulders and blocks and push around tons of dirt and stone. This can require more expen­sive equipment and bigger risk of lifting injury or falls.
  • Excavation – Excavators use heavy equipment and dig and grade close to homes. This equipment can be very expensive and working near someone’s house can present additional risks if something goes wrong.
  • Irrigation contractors – If you install irrigation systems, you need specialized equipment and materials adding cost to your business. Additionally, you will be installing systems that run large quantities of water near a home, a break in the line you installed could quickly flood your customers yard and house.

As landscapers continue to take on bigger and more complex jobs, you are using larger and more expensive equipment. There are several things you can do to ensure you have the right coverage. One key is to pick and stay within your scope of services. You may provide one or several of these services, keeping within your scope will help ensure you have the right insurance coverage.

What types of insurance coverage should landscapers have?

What can you do to help protect your employees and your business from a loss caused by an accident or other unexpected situation? There is really no such thing as “landscaper insurance,” what you purchase is a group of policies that are tailored to your business. There are many hazards that all business owners face, including landscapers, some of your unique risks are noted above. Insurance coverage designed to meet the specific needs of your business will help provide the protection you need. Here are a few of the coverages that are available and how they can help:

  • General liability coverage – This will protect you against third party claims. For instance, if you damage your customers house or if a customer is injured while walking through an active worksite, this type of policy will provide coverage in these and similar situations.
  • Workers’ compensation – Workers’ comp coverage protects your employees if they are injured or become ill due to a work-related situation. We all know how quickly medical costs can spiral out of control; this type of insurance will protect your business from crushing medical expenses.
  • Commercial property coverage – This type of policy protects your buildings against damage and your equipment against losses. Property insurance will help pay for repair or replacement of items if they are damaged or lost in a covered event. It is important to remember that commercial property coverage typically only covers your property at the listed business address, to cover equipment elsewhere, you will need another type of policy called inland marine coverage.
  • Inland marine coverage – This strange sounding coverage has nothing to do with water. Inland marine coverage protects your equipment when it is in transit or on the jobsite. So, if you are in an accident on the way to a job or if someone steals a mower from the back of your truck, your inland marine policy will cover losses.
  • Commercial auto – you may have trucks and trailers used to transport your equipment to and from your jobs. Commercial auto insurance will cover your work cars, trucks, and trailers as well as damage to others property in an “at-fault” accident.
  • Other important coverage options:
    • Commercial umbrella – provides an extra layer of financial security for your business.
    • Business interruption – if you need to shut down your business, for a covered peril, business interruption insurance will help cover expenses. It is important to note that pandemics are not typically a covered peril.
    • Cyber liability – this coverage will help you recover from hackers, identity theft and other technology related problems and issues.
    • Surety bonds – not required in all states, ensures that you (the business) will live up to your financial obligations.

That is a lot of options! A somewhat simpler plan is a Business Owners Policy (BOP) which combines several policies – typically general liability, commercial property and can include others. You will still need to consider other policies, but a BOP is a good option to get broad coverage.

How do I know what coverage I need?

With so many different types of landscaping services and so many different policies available, the best way to get the right coverage – coverage tailored to your business – is to talk to a licensed independent insurance agent. Many factors affect the cost of insurance – location, payroll, revenue, property, scope of business, loss history, deductibles and more – an independent agent can work through each of these to find the right protection. An independent agent normally works with several insurance companies to build a plan that fits your needs and your budget. If you are just starting out or if you have been in business for a while, your operation could benefit from an insurance review and the experience of an independent agent insurance agent.

This article was published in Endless Mountains Magazine.

Stevens Lambert is a business insurance specialist for Gannon Associates Insurance.

You can reach Stevens by phone at 570-404-3791 or e-mail him at slambert@gannonassociates.com.

You can reach Gannon’s anytime

by calling 844-426-6667.