Landscaping insurance provides protection against financial losses arising from third-party claims from bodily injury and property damage. Business property insurance and workers’ compensation are additional policies that cover equipment and other assets of landscaping businesses and their employees. The annual cost of landscaping general liability insurance starts around $400 for most small business owners.
The coverage types and total cost of lawn care insurance will depend upon many variables, including the size and location of the business, the number of employees, and the type of work that the business does. For a better idea of how to insure your landscaping business, get a free, no-obligation quote from the experts at Hiscox.
Lawn Care Insurance Providers
National commercial insurance companies offer landscaping insurance for different types of landscaping businesses. Most of these policies fall under a contractor-type of business but, depending on the type of landscaping, different insurance providers have different appetites for the risk. The complexity of services such as moving land or trimming very large trees increase risk thus costs.
Top Lawn Care Insurance Providers
|Hiscox||Lawn care maintenance companies including mowing, leaf blowing, and weeding|
|The Hartford||Specialized coverage for arborists working on tree removal and pruning above 20 feet|
|Progressive Commercial||Site preparation and hardscape installation of large boulders and rocks|
|Bolt Insurance||Snow plow and removal requiring specialized equipment and licensing|
|CoverWallet||Low-cost and quick coverage for landscape architects integrating structural design with landscape designs|
Five providers of lawn care business insurance you should consider include Hiscox, The Hartford, Progressive Commercial, Bolt Insurance, and CoverWallet.
Hiscox is a small business insurance specialist focused on the needs of sole proprietors, independent contractors, and micro businesses with only a few employees. Hiscox offers most lines of commercial insurance, including general liability, business property, and professional liability.
Hiscox is a great choice for a small lawn care maintenance company with just a couple of employees. The lower risk of mowing and other regular lawn care tasks are aligned with the service provider business Hiscox excels at.
The Hartford is one of the largest insurers in the United States and offers commercial insurance for a wide range of small businesses. The Hartford is known for a business owners’ policy (BOP) that includes more coverage for businesses that other companies charge for, making it a top choice for many small business owners.
The Hartford is the right choice for landscape companies specializing in tree trimming, maintenance, and removal. Policies are competitively priced for this higher-risk landscaping category, as long as professional arborists are employed with the business and risk mitigation procedures are used to prevent accidents when working 20 feet or higher.
Progressive Commercial is a large national insurance carrier that provides all lines of commercial insurance. Small business owners can get general liability, business property, and workers’ compensation insurance with Progressive Commercial. Progressive Commercial’s parent company, Progressive is best known for auto insurance, and the experience in this area is well-suited for landscaping insurance needs.
Progressive Commercial is a good choice for landscape companies that work on site preparation, excavation, and installation of dirt, boulders, and tree stumps removal. Additional work vehicles, including dump trucks, flatbeds, and tow trucks are used to transport materials and heavy equipment that requires specialized commercial auto insurance that Progressive Commercial offers.
Bolt Insurance is an insurance broker that works with top carriers across the country to get insurance for difficult-to-place small businesses. It offers all personal and commercial insurance products, including general liability, business property, commercial audio, and workers’ compensation.
Bolt Insurance is great for a landscape company that also takes care of snow plowing during winter storms. Liability in snowy and icy conditions increases as vehicles may slide, or unseen property could become damaged in the process.
CoverWallet is an online insurance broker with a portal designed to simplify the insurance purchase process by identifying the key elements of a business to underwrite the risk properly. CoverWallet works with major insurance carriers and can offer all lines of commercial insurance for most industries.
CoverWallet is a good option for architectural landscape companies licensed to plan and develop large landscapes integrating structures such as pergolas, water features, patios, and retaining walls. CoverWallet is capable of placing the risk with one of its top-rated carriers while keeping pricing competitive.
How Landscaping Insurance Works
Landscaping insurance is not a specific type of insurance policy but is instead a combination of common insurance policies rated for the specific risks of a landscaping business. The most common policies used are general liability, business, property, commercial auto, and workers’ compensation.
Most landscaping and lawn care businesses will benefit by purchasing what is called a BOP, which combines both general liability and commercial property insurance into one package. Bundling is usually less expensive than buying two separate policies. Because of this cost-effective, broad coverage, BOP insurance is a common small business insurance policy.
Who Landscaping Insurance Is Right For
Landscapers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and licenses, offering different types of services. Landscaper insurance is designed to focus on the specific risks between the different primary activities of landscapers. Because the risks differ, underwriting standards from insurance companies have different standards to make sure a landscaping company is insured properly.
The different types of landscape companies that need landscape insurance include:
- Lawn care services & maintenance: Mowing, weeding, and general gardening are often weekly or monthly services homeowners use to maintain already-completed landscapes.
- Tree pruning & removal: Dusting, spraying, trimming, stump removal, and related tasks. May require licensed arborist to address large trees safely.
- Excavation & grading: Adjusting ground level to create drainage and prepare the land for landscaping.
- Architectural landscape design: Creating and implementing the designs for landscapes that include foliage, built-in planters, retaining walls, and patio integration.
- Hardscape design & implementation: Landscapes with rocks, boulders, and other non-plant concepts often requires bigger equipment to relocate heavy items.
While landscaping insurance is rarely required for business registration, it may be required to obtain city permits or work with clients who expect insurance to be in place. Working on large trees or moving major areas of earth often require city permits that want to see your insurance. Clients feel more confident working with a company that is covered for accidents that may happen on their property and want to see a certificate of insurance (COI).
The risks of a lawn maintenance company are very different from that of a licensed architectural landscape design company that could be liable for design failure six months after project completion. Your rate will be reflective of the type of work you do because increasing risk activities increases exposure.
Landscaping Insurance Costs
Landscaping insurance costs vary widely depending on the total policies chosen, the coverage options selected, and the overall type of landscaping you perform. A sole proprietor might see an annual cost of $400 while a larger company offering tree stump removal might have cost of $2,000. Most companies can expect to pay $400 to $10,000 in premiums per year for necessary coverage.
Typical Lawn Care Insurance Costs
|Policy||Annual Premium||Coverage Limit|
|General Liability||$400||$1 million|
|Professional Liability||$500||$1 million|
|Inland Marine||$300||$1 million|
|Commercial Umbrella||$300||$1 million|
Typical lawn care insurance costs vary dramatically based on these factors:
- Location: Geographic locations such as city and state dramatically affect all insurance policy premiums. For example, California is more expensive than Oregon but, within California, San Bernardino is less expensive than San Diego.
- Payroll: Workers’ compensation coverage is directly impacted by payroll costs, increasing based on the job classification risks and the amount paid annually to employees.
- Revenue receipts: Insurance carriers use annual receipts to determine the exposure for liability insurance purposes. The higher the company revenues are, the higher the premium costs.
- Property value: Business tools and equipment value determine the overall amount of property coverage required. The more business property is worth, the higher the insurance premium will be.
- Vehicle type: The year, make, and model of the truck or van used for your lawn care business directly impacts the cost. Different vehicles have different safety features and ratings.
- Main landscape duties: Landscapers who excavate or move earth at all are a higher risk category than those who have a small garden and lawn care maintenance business.
- Deductible: Higher deductibles reduce annual premium but mean the business is responsible for more out-of-pocket expenses.
All these factors combined are part of the underwriting process, along with the landscape business’ experience and claims history. A landscape business can save money by combining some policies into a BOP that includes general liability, business property, and business interruption insurance.
Landscaping Insurance Coverages
Landscaping insurance is an industry-specific collection of policies that most landscape companies need. Landscapers must concern themselves with third-party claims, employee injuries, and business property loss due to theft or vandalism. Exposure for individual policies is determined either by overall revenues, the total number of clients, payroll costs, or the value of the property.
Types of Lawn Care Insurance Coverage
|Coverage Type||What It Covers|
|Commercial General Liability||Non-employee third-party claims for bodily injury or property damage|
|Commercial Property Insurance||Assets owned by the business like building, equipment, or inventory|
|Professional Liability Insurance||Mistakes or damages due to your work or negligence|
|Inland Marine Insurance||Equipment, tools, and supplies in transit from one job to another or while delivering to a client|
|Commercial Vehicle Insurance||Injury, damage, and lawsuits arising from accidents involving vehicles owned by your business|
|Workers' Compensation||Work-related injuries, medical bills, and wage replacement for your employees|
|Commercial Umbrella Insurance||Added liability coverage for general liability, workers’ compensation, and commercial auto policies|
Commercial General Liability
Commercial general liability (CGL) covers bodily injury or property damage to third parties, who are people or entities other than your employees or your business. Third-party injury and property damage are the greatest risk exposures in the lawn care business with claims and lawsuits that can exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Imagine hitting a gas line when digging a hole, leading to an explosion and fire that engulfs a million-dollar home. Even though this is on a client’s property, his homeowners’ insurance will subrogate―try to collect from a determined responsible party―any claim to the landscaper’s insurance, if there is any. If the landscaper has no insurance, the homeowners’ policy could potentially put liens on bank accounts and assets, ultimately bankrupting the business.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance covers assets such as your building, equipment, tools, or nursery inventory of plants, trees, and shrubbery. Property Insurance may cover your business for losses due to fire, theft, vandalism, and other covered events. Not all weather damage is covered, so be sure to clarify coverage with your insurance agent or broker.
Landscapers have a lot of tools and large equipment that are necessary for daily operations. Keep in mind that if someone steals a lawnmower out of the back of the truck, this isn’t covered by commercial auto insurance – it must be covered by business property. Whether it is small gardening hand tools, mowers, leaf blowers, or larger equipment like chippers, landscapers can’t work without their tools and should insure them properly.
Professional Liability Insurance
Professional liability insurance, also referred to as “errors and omissions” coverage, covers damages due to your failure to provide the services that you were contracted to do or mistakes made in providing the contracted services. Professional liability can also cover lawsuit costs when a client sues you over your services or advice. This is a different liability coverage than general liability, which covers accidental damage.
For example, let’s say you pruned a 100-foot tall sequoia tree next to a home. Two weeks later the tree is uprooted in a windstorm, collapsing on the house. The homeowner may claim that you didn’t prune the tree properly, or that you failed to tell them that the tree’s root system was unhealthy and dangerous, leading to a professional liability claim.
Inland Marine Insurance
Inland marine insurance covers your equipment, tools, and supplies in transit from one job to another or while delivering your landscaping products, such as plants and trees, to a client. Standard property insurance coverage will protect your building and assets at a particular location, but inland marine insurance may be needed in addition to cover assets taken off-premises.
Commercial Vehicle Insurance
Most landscaping businesses own a vehicle, such as a van or truck, that is required by state law to have at least minimal insurance coverage. Commercial vehicle insurance pays for claims to third-parties for injuries or property damage and covers your vehicle for repairs after an at-fault accident.
Make sure to look at how your vehicle is covered as well as whether or not you have coverage if you are hit by an uninsured motorist. Some landscapers perform snow plowing during the winter; this may require additional riders.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance covers work-related injuries, medical bills, and wage replacement for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. This coverage is necessary for many landscaping businesses because most states require workers comp coverage if you have any employees, and employee accidents can be expensive to your business if you’re not covered properly.
Your workers may face several work hazards, such as sharp tools, heavy equipment, operating machinery and vehicles and even animal bites, which make workers comp coverage critical for your small business.
Commercial Umbrella Insurance
Commercial umbrella insurance provides coverage above the liability limits of other primary insurance policies. Property lawsuits or significant injuries can lead to very expensive legal costs and settlements. If you have a general liability limit of $2 million and your legal fees are $3 million, umbrella insurance can cover the $1 million not covered under general liability.
Commercial umbrella insurance adds liability coverage to general liability, commercial auto, and workers’ compensation policies. It does not add coverage for professional liability or personal business property coverage.
Business Owners Policy
A BOP combines several of the most important insurance policies together in one, usually less expensive policy. Within the BOP, a business owner can customize general liability coverage, business property values, and protection against business interruption.
Surety Bonds vs Landscaping Insurance
In addition to the types of coverage listed above, some landscaping businesses need to be bonded. Surety bonds work differently than liability insurance but are often discussed at the same time. Some states require landscaping contractors to be bonded before they can receive their contractors’ licenses.
A surety bond is purchased through insurance carriers and offers limited coverage for claims against the company. Often surety bonds are for $10,000 to $100,000 and cover payments made to injured parties. The insurance company then collects the amount paid out back from the small business. This isn’t an insurance policy; it is a guarantee to clients that there is some level of financial coverage.
When to Get a Surety Bond
Depending on the state where you do business, you may need to be licensed as a landscaping contractor. A common requirement of the licensing process is to post a surety bond in the amount the state requires. The bond ensures that the purchaser of the bond (you or the business) will live up to the financial obligations of the contract.
This type of bond is an insurance product and can be obtained through any insurance agency authorized to sell bonds from a surety insurance company. In addition to meeting state requirements, being bonded can help attract larger contracts. Surety bonds for landscaping contractors typically cost $100 to $300 per year for up to $100,000 in coverage. For more information, be sure to read more on the types of surety bonds.
“Surety bonds are insurance, but they protect the state and the constituents. In several states, landscape contractors are required to purchase a surety bond as a condition of licensure. For many states, landscape contractors are licensed by the state contractors board. The key takeaway for landscape contractors that require a bond is that the contractor is indemnifying herself or himself, so the contractor is ultimately responsible for losses.”
―Jason O’Leary, Surety Bonds Direct
Tips for Buying Landscape Insurance
Insurance coverage needs for lawn care business insurance will vary according to the unique needs of the business. You may only need commercial general liability coverage, but a BOP or additional coverage types may be appropriate. Therefore, there are a few key pieces of information to know before applying for your landscaping insurance.
1. Gathering the Right Documents
It’s important to have complete and accurate information when applying for landscaping insurance or any other type of insurance. Gather payroll and revenue information for the past 12 months as well as business and vehicle registrations. If you have existing insurance, have those policies available to compare quotes accurately.
2. Mitigating Your Risk Exposures
There are many inherent risks a landscaping business faces, but small business owners can reduce the change of claims with a written and implemented risk mitigation plan. Train employees on best practices to prevent injury or property loss. Fewer problems mean happier and more productive employees and a potential discount from your carrier.
3. Value and Coverage Are More Important Than Price
You don’t want to be underinsured, nor do you want to buy more insurance than you need. The cheapest policies with minimal coverage limits will not likely be the best policies for your business. At the same time, paying too much or buying unnecessary coverage types is not good for your financial bottom line. When possible, bundle your coverages into one package.
4. Use an Agent or Broker Who Knows the Landscaping Business
Landscaping insurance is industry-specific, which means it’s a specialty type, unlike standard policies. Even within the landscaping industry, there are different types of landscapers with different risks from others. Make sure your agent or broker takes the time to understand your business fully to insure it properly.
Lawn Care Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
With so many factors affecting coverage and lawn care insurance costs, you may still have questions. Some of the most common questions are below but if you are still unsure about something, feel free to leave a comment below or visit the forum. Our mission is to provide the best answers we possibly can.
Is a business license needed for a lawn care business?
Depending on the city and state where you conduct business, a business permit might be required. Unless you are doing work that requires a general or subcontractors license, you will not need a specialized license. When there are licensing requirements, a bond is usually required to fulfill the application requirements.
Do I need workers’ comp insurance if I have independent contractors?
Owners and subcontractors are exempt from workers’ comp insurance requirements. However, make sure you meet the standards of hiring independent contractors based on the IRS requirements to prevent potential penalties and fines. Independent contractors don’t have job duties, schedules, and wages extensively controlled.
Is a riding lawn mower considered a vehicle?
A riding lawn mower is not a vehicle and doesn’t require department of motor vehicles (DMV) registrations. It is considered personal property and insured by either a home insurance policy or a business property insurance policy for lawn care companies.
Every landscaping business, whether it’s a sole proprietor lawn service or a full-service landscaping business, should have at least some small business insurance coverage. Even if you don’t have a building or valuable business assets to protect, you work with the general public, which opens up many potential risk exposures, especially employee bodily injury and property damage.
Purchasing insurance for your landscaping business is a relatively inexpensive way to prevent a potentially-devastating financial loss. If you need a quick, no-hassle quote for landscaping insurance, a good place to start is with the experts at Hiscox. Its plans are easy to understand and tailored to your needs.