Your landscaping business might be just a truck and one lawnmower. Or you might have hundreds of clients who rely on you for everything from tree clearing to golf course maintenance in the summer and snow removal in the winter.
No matter what size your landscaping business is, you’ve probably seen the same challenges throughout the industry: unpredictable weather, off-season slumps, equipment breakdown, maybe even difficult clients.
You need insurance to protect your business – that’s a no-brainer. Exactly which coverages are right for you, however, isn’t always clear. We’ll take you through some of the most common policies for landscapers, so you have a better idea of what to look for.
First Things First: Take Stock
The first step to getting landscaping insurance should happen before you even sit down to buy a policy. For starters, consider all the kinds of work you do, and keep in mind any seasonal duties. Pull up bids or client invoices, if they’ll help to jog your memory.
Think through any employees or subcontractors you work with, their duties, the equipment used, and the locations of those jobs.
And finally, have a reasonable estimate of how much revenue your landscaping business brought in over the past year.
Taking a few minutes on these details now will give you a solid framework for deciding which policies are best for you. It also will leave you feeling more confident about your insurance when the time comes to file a claim.
General Liability: Accidents Happen (But You Still Gotta Make Things Right)
You spend almost all of your working hours on someone else’s property, whether it’s a single-family home or a city park; accidents are bound to happen.
Picture this: You’re working in a client’s front yard, and your mower kicks up some gravel. Next thing you know, there’s a gaping hole where a plate glass window used to be – and your client is furious. Great. Now what?
You didn’t intend to break a window, obviously, but you still have to make things right.
Your client expects you to replace it, and without coverage, you could be writing a big check. That’s where general liability insurance comes in. Also known as commercial general liability, or CGL, it’s a fundamental basic for landscapers. CGL helps protect you from unexpected costs if you damage something – whether it belongs to you or someone else.
Property: Making Sure Things Run Smoothly
Even if you’ve never had an accident, you’ve probably had to replace or repair broken equipment. Or maybe you’ve been hit by theft or vandalism. Property damage or theft are frustrating – to say the least – and can bring your workday to a complete halt while you straighten things out. That’s why property insurance is so important.
Take stock of power tools and large items like wood chippers or deck mowers. How much would a breakdown cost you, not just for the tool itself, but for the hours you lose while it’s out of commission?
A property policy will cover business assets like your tools, equipment, or building – even an inventory of plants or trees you might have. Bottom line: If you need it to get the job done, keep it covered.
Professional Liability: Keep All Your Bases Covered
Say a client asked you to regrade his yard in June. Your team gets the job done, but months later – in December – you get some bad news: The client tells you his basement is collecting water, and that it’s a result of your work. You can’t even try to correct the issue until spring and, worst of all, he’s suing you, saying your negligence caused the entire problem.
Whether it’s truly your fault or only an allegation, expenses can skyrocket in situations like this. Enter professional liability – also known as errors and omissions, or E&O coverage.
A professional liability policy protects your business in case of negligence or allegations of negligence. It’s important because it fills gaps that might exist with a general liability policy alone. If you’re involved in a negligence lawsuit, for example, professional liability could cover resulting damages and legal costs – which, without a policy, might mean thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Workers Compensation: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
There’s a good chance your state requires workers compensation insurance from the moment you hire your first employee. Even if it’s not legally required based on your location, it’s still a smart idea to have a workers comp policy.
After all, you’ve gone to the trouble of hiring and training employees in this physically demanding industry. If someone on your team gets sick or hurt on the job, workers comp helps cover their medical costs and lost wages. Getting appropriate medical care means they can recover and return to work more quickly. So while it helps your employees, in turn, it also supports your productivity.
Commercial Vehicles: Hit the Road, Jack (But Make Sure Your Truck is Covered)
Landscapers spend a good part of their day driving from job to job. You already know you’re legally required to have at least some insurance for your work truck or van – but going with the bare minimum means potentially leaving yourself open to problems.
A commercial vehicle policy can cover accidents when you’re at fault, or if you’re hit by an uninsured driver. Besides covering repairs to your truck, you should have a policy that also covers injuries or property damage to a third party.
Consider also how your jobs change from summer to winter. Do you go from hauling a trailer of lawn equipment to plowing driveways? If so, you probably need additional coverage for your plow work.
And make sure your policy extends to employees who drive a company vehicle, too. You don’t want to find out you weren’t adequately covered after a worker has a fender-bender.
The Best Choice for You
It’s a lot to think about – but don’t worry. The basic purpose of any insurance policy is to protect against accidents or damages. If you’re just starting your landscaping business, you can keep it simple and go with a couple of key coverages.
Small landscapers usually need a general liability policy and a property policy. A third common option is commercial vehicle coverage.
You can find and compare quotes for landscapers insurance at Simply Business. We specialize in landscaping insurance, so you can get personalized coverage at affordable prices. All you have to do is provide a few details about you and your landscaping business — we’ll take care of the rest.
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