The Landscaping Insurance You Can’t Afford to Overlook

By: Laura Kiley, CISR ELITE, PWCAM

Laura has worked in the insurance industry for nearly 30 years. She holds a P&C license and has the CISR Elite designation.

Most landscapers and arborists are well aware of their general liability or business owner insurance needs, securing coverage to protect against property damage or bodily injury. But insurance experts caution that too many green professionals are overlooking professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions (E&O) landscaping insurance, coverage. In doing so, they may be exposing themselves to high-cost, service-related events—some of which take months or years to emerge.

This post outlines some of the common business cases associated with professional liability insurance for landscapers, arborists, and other green industry professionals.

Landscaping Insurance for Cutting Down the Wrong Tree

On the grand scale of professional negligence, cutting down the wrong tree isn’t as serious as, say, operating on the wrong limb of a patient, but it still warrants reparation. And replacing a mature tree—or several of them—can cost upwards of $10 or $20 thousand, according to industry replacement cost reports. With E&O landscaping insurance in place, business owners can rest assured that mistakes like these will be covered.

Landscaping Insurance for the Mishandling of Pesticides or Herbicides

In the state of Massachusetts, anyone licensed to commercially apply pesticides is actually required, per MDAR, to obtain pollution liability coverage that can protect their customers and their business in the event of a contamination event (e.g. spraying when the homeowners’ windows are open).

Insurance Coverage for Bad Advice

Landscape design isn’t always an exact science. Oversights and unforeseen consequences can result in damage to existing structures or plant life. Common examples include yard re-grading that produces water damage in a basement, or recommended plantings that dislodge utility pipes/foundations/driveways with their invasive root systems. Even young saplings and shrubs have the potential to choke out weaker plants and wreak havoc on some garden environments.

Landscaping Insurance to Cover Faulty Products

Imagine you’ve installed a significant area of sod across a newly developed office park. Now imagine that the sod was over-fertilized by the distributor, and ultimately dies a few days after installation. When the property owner wants the defective product replaced, he’s well within his right to expect a correction on your dime. If you have professional liability insurance, you won’t be out of pocket for tens of thousands in replacement product.

Coverage Gaps in Landscaping Insurance

You may think your general liability policy would cover some of these issues—for example, remediation of basement water damage. And you may be right, depending on the circumstances. But expenses associated with re-doing the project (time, manpower, materials) are typically beyond the scope of your general liability coverage. In fact, many general liability policies carry a professional services exclusion, putting reconstruction expenses back on landscapers’ shoulders.

Bottom line: don’t get caught unprepared for service failures, negligence (actual or alleged), or recommendations that result in a client’s loss. Learn more about E&O landscaping insurance designed specifically for landscapers and arboriculture/horticulture professionals by contacting our team.

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