Do you have the right insurance coverage for your operation?
Insurance is a critical component for a green industry business. The right policy can protect you and and your operation from future risk. Traci Dooley, national agency sales director for Hortica, a subsidiary of Sentry Insurance Group specializing in insurance coverage for green industry businesses, and Drew Garcia, vice president of Rancho Mesa’s landscape group, share what you need to know about securing the right coverage for your business.
Before taking out that policy
Garcia says an important step in the process is to find a provider with industry experience. The green industry is nuanced, and working with an insurance provider with industry knowledge ensures you’ll have the right coverage.
“You can find agents online, through professional associations or ask a peer in the industry who they work with,” he says.
Dooley says it’s important to understand your risks — and that’s something a provider with industry experience can help with.
“Think about the accidents, damages, or legal expenses you could incur over the next year. If you operate a landscaping business, your risks often include potential injuries, damage to your equipment or a customer’s property, theft and contract-related errors,” she says. “Now consider what each of those risks could cost if they became a loss.”
Dooley says the direct and indirect costs could catch a business owner off guard as they’re often higher than expected. Garcia agrees.
“The glaring concern is having an uncovered claim,” he says. “We generally see landscape businesses spend between 2 and 5 percent of revenue on insurance cost. It’s important to understand that the lower-cost option might not be the best fit for your business.”
Dooley says she encourages new clients to take out property and liability coverage as a good starting place.
“Depending on your team and travel needs, you may also need to consider workers’ compensation and commercial auto insurance, which are required in most states,” she says.
One size doesn’t fit all
Dooley says it may be easy for a business owner to take out a blanket policy for the operation, but she cautions that can be a huge mistake.
“A one-size-fits-all policy rarely fits the needs, or risks, of specialized businesses like those in the horticulture industry,” she says. “You typically want to look for an insurer who supports a large number of businesses within your industry. They often have a deeper understanding of the risks and challenges you face, and they’re better equipped to tailor a policy to your needs and budget.”
Garcia says it’s important to communicate to your insurance agent all the services you provide or if you subcontract out work.
“Incidental service offerings like tree care, lawn care, snow and ice services, pest control and holiday lighting, to name a few, create additional liability,” he says. “Making sure your policy offers coverage for the type of work you perform is very important, and make sure your insurance carrier understands the work you perform or subcontract is just as important.”
Review before renewing
Along with communicating any service updates, Dooley says it’s a good idea to revisit your policy yearly with your insurance agent. Update your policy with any additional equipment, services or operations to ensure you’re covered.
“You may have found that your business faced more claims or costs than expected in the past year,” she says. “Any change to your business could affect your risk and, therefore, your insurance. The most successful businesses I see throughout our industry take safety seriously, manage their risks and review their coverage. If you can do that, you can protect your business and spend more time focusing on your customers.”
About the Author: Christina Herrick
Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.