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What Insurance Agents Need to Know about Landscaper & Lawn Care Risk

Landscaping Work Remains Dangerous

Landscape professionals saw a 25% increase in work fatalities in 2011

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tree trimmers and lawn care workers suffered 167 fatalities in 2011, up from 133 in 2010. And it’s not just chainsaws and wood chippers that cause these tragedies. OSHA lists falls as the leading cause of death for landscapers, which accounts for 29 percent of all fatalities, followed by struck-by injuries and electrocution. Their dangerous work means lawn care professionals can’t skimp on Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

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Important Insurance Policies for Lawn Care and Landscaping Services

Lawn care and landscaping professionals rely on some expensive equipment, such as hedgers and riding mowers. They also need space to store their gear, plus trucks, vans, or trailers to move it. Moreover, whether they are installing a sprinkler system or removing snow after a storm, the work they do is very physical. All of these exposures require different policies to ensure adequate protection.

Your client's physical labor, gear, and travel to and from worksites increase their chance of lawsuits, property loss, and work injuries. These policies can help address your client's exposures:

General Liability Insurance

There is always a possibility that a third party (i.e., someone other than the insured) could sue your client - especially when they work on customer property. For example, a customer might claim your client damaged their property while installing a sprinkler system. If they sue for compensation, General Liability Insurance covers your client's attorney fees, settlements, or judgments.

Property Insurance / Business Owner's Policy (BOP)

Property Insurance is a vital coverage for a client in lawn care. Without their equipment, most landscape designers would be unable to fulfill their contracts. Not only does Property Insurance cover their equipment against loss or damage, but it also covers your client's office space and storage facilities. Depending on the size of their business and its risk profile, your client may qualify for a Business Owner's Policy (BOP). BOPs combine General Liability with Property Insurance at a discounted rate.

Workers' Compensation Insurance

Your client's lawn care employees run a high risk of work injuries, which is why Workers' Compensation Insurance is essential coverage. Plus, most states require employers carry some level of Workers' Comp. It covers your client's employees' medical expenses and lost wages when they are hurt on the job. It can also protect your client if an injured employee decides to sue for negligence.

Umbrella / Excess Liability Insurance

Sometimes customers may want your client to carry more coverage than they usually do. Excess Liability Insurance can help your client meets these requirements without raising their General Liability Insurance premiums. So when a client is sued for damaging someone's property and the court-ordered compensation exceeds their GL limits, the client can make a claim on their Umbrella policy to fund the difference.

Commercial Auto Insurance

If your client drives trucks or vans titled in the company name, they need Commercial Auto Insurance. Commercial Auto can pay to repair your client's vehicles if they are involved in an accident or damaged some other way (e.g., hail or vandalism). Your client might also want coverage for underinsured or uninsured motorists, roadside assistance, and medical expenses.

Tips for Insuring Lawn Care and Landscaping Businesses

Working in lawn care means hauling equipment to and from worksites. Whether your client is doing the driving or they have employees behind the wheel, they need Commercial Auto for their company vehicles.

But what if the employees drive their own cars and trucks for work? That's when your client needs Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance (HNOA), which covers vehicles that are:

  • Hired.
  • Rented.
  • Leased.
  • Borrowed.

HNOA could also be a useful risk management tool for a client whose business is growing. As your client takes on bigger jobs, they may need to rent trucks and vans to complete the work. Since this coverage can be added as a rider to your client's GL policy, it's an easy addition that allows your client some flexibility.

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