Spring has sprung, and it is also prime time for insurance renewal dates. When you’re caught up in the hectic nature of the season, you might not be taking the time to review your policy before its expiration.
Drew Garcia, vice president of Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, says landscape professionals should be reviewing their policies 90 to 120 days before expiration or if they are making a change to their services offered. Waiting until a few days before the policy expires makes the renewal process much more chaotic.
“You’re now making decisions against time and it creates more room for error,” Garcia says. “Cost can be a concern as well, no one likes to see heavy increases days before a renewal. If your insurance constantly renews on the last day, then there is an issue with the process.”
If you have been considering adding a new service offering, don’t forget to communicate this to your insurance agent or carrier in advance of takeoff.
“The carrier will likely need to add additional classifications to the policy with corresponding liability and work comp rates to cover the new exposure,” Garcia says. “There can be some significant complications if the carrier does not have the ability to cover certain types of services outside lawn care or landscape. If the service was added and not communicated to the carrier, you could see additional premium owed at audit.”
If you are expanding the geographical range of your service area or adding new customer types, these should also be considered from an insurance standpoint.
“If your services are bringing you into additional states, it is important to work with your agent/carrier in advance of this to make sure coverage is secure,” Garcia says. “Areas that might be prone to wildfires, hurricanes, snow, and wind may cause some concern from your current insurance carrier.”
Depending on which state you are planning to spread into, there can be additional or enhanced insurance requirements for your company. For instance, in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Agriculture requires landscape and lawn care companies that provide chemical application services to have specific language in their general liability policy to cover this exposure, or they need to purchase additional coverage if they are unable to meet the qualifications through their general liability policy.
Be mindful that if your customer base changes, your contracts could require insurance limits or policies that you do not currently have. Work with your insurance agent to review these requirements and navigate your needs.
“Typically, higher profile jobs will require heavier insurance limits and additional coverage outside traditional policies like work comp, general liability, automobile and umbrella,” Garcia says. “This could come from a number of customers, like general contractors, developers, municipalities, government, and utility companies, to name a few.”
Garcia notes that insurance types not typically required by law or contracts can be overlooked. Management liability, pollution liability, professional liability and cyber liability are all types of coverage that a landscape business should consider at any point. Garcia says as your company grows, the exposure becomes more glaring, but there isn’t a threshold of revenue as to when these should be added.
If you are entering the spring season with the majority of your staff being new, be aware an inexperienced staff could cause a higher likelihood of an accident. Focus on a strong safety and training program to help coach up the team. You can access materials to help your company operate safely by becoming an NALP Safe Company member.
This article was published in the March/April issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.
NALP’s safety programs are produced in partnership with Rancho Mesa.