There are many reasons that you may have started a landscaping business: you love working outdoors, you have a knack for keeping things green, or you’ve always dreamed of building a business on your own and working for yourself.
Whatever the reasons you started your business, there is one thing that can quickly stop it in its tracks: an inability to spot risks. Once you are a business owner, every risk can mean a big financial loss, a lawsuit, or even bankruptcy.
If you want your landscaping business to be a success, you will need to learn how to see a risk coming from a mile away, and know the right way to protect everything you’ve worked so hard to grow. Here are some of the risks unique to landscapers, and ways you can hedge against them.
When you work outdoors, the weather can make or break your business. Weather conditions can slow, delay, or even stop your work altogether.
- Extreme weather such as heavy rains, winds, and floods can damage materials.
- Heavy hail can destroy delicate plants.
- High winds can uproot trees and bushes.
Carrying adequate landscaping insurance is the only way to protect yourself against mother nature. When extreme weather threatens your materials, you can protect yourself against the high costs of replacing them.
Injury on the Job
You couldn’t run your business without customers who want your service, or without the help of a few good employees on your side. Unfortunately, the more people involved on site, the more risks you take of an injury occurring.
The equipment you need to get the job done is heavy, sharp, and dangerous. One moment of distraction from an employee can mean loss of blood, limb, or even life. And that’s not all...
- Hot weather conditions can lead to heatstroke and dehydration.
- Heavy materials improperly lifted can lead to back injuries.
- Insects can bite and sting.
- Chemicals can be accidentally ingested, inhaled, or get into delicate eye tissue.
Any full-time, part-time, or seasonal employees should always receive proper training on the safest way to perform their jobs. This includes the right way to use equipment, lift and move materials, use dangerous chemicals, and the proper protective gear and clothing. But even the best safety training is not a foolproof way to protect against risk. If you have even one employee, then your landscaping insurance policies should include a workers’ comp policy, as well.
The same equipment, materials, and chemicals that you use in your landscaping business can pose an injury risk to homeowners and other third-parties, too.
- Sharp tools and dangerous equipment can pose a safety threat to curious children.
- Chemicals can lead to illness or injury.
- Uneven ground can pose a risk for tripping and falling
- Certain plants may be toxic to children or animals.
You can safeguard homeowners and other third-party people to some extent while performing your job. Keep equipment and tools securely locked up and secured when not in use. Tape off areas where holes are being dug. Choose non-toxic materials if children or animals will be using the outdoor space. Talk to homeowners about any chemicals you plan to use, and how they can best avoid coming into contact with these chemicals.
To fully protect your business from the possibility of a lawsuit from a third-party injury, be sure that your general liability insurance is maintained and updated regularly. That way, in the unfortunate event that someone is injured as a result of your business, you won’t have to pay out of pocket for costly court fees, attorney fees, or expensive judgements against you.
Equipment Loss and Damage
Without your tools and equipment, you wouldn’t have a business to run. Plants couldn’t go in, hedges and trees couldn’t be trimmed, lawns couldn’t be cared for. Without your tools, you would be seriously up a creek without a paddle. What are some of the risks that could impact your most important business assets?
- Employees can damage or misuse equipment.
- Equipment can be stolen from an unsecure trailer, truck bed, or toolbox.
Your tools and equipment can be lost or stolen when being transported to the next job site. Even the best intentioned, well-meaning employees can misplace or damage a tool. You can protect your equipment by marking each piece well with the name and phone number of your business; having a check-in/ check-out system for equipment; and properly securing all tools in locking boxes. Lastly, your landscaping insurance will provide the final safety net for your most important assets. A tools and equipment policy (also called inland marine) will be there to protect you from loss and damage of the very things you need to get the job done.
When your office is the great outdoors, you put a lot of miles on your truck getting from one jobsite to another. Every time you hop in your vehicle, you put a lot on the line. An estimated 15,000 motor vehicle crashes happen every single day. And no matter how good a driver you are, you can’t always protect yourself from the many distracted (or just plain bad) drivers out on the road with you.
- Someone else could get injured in an accident while you are driving.
- An employee could get injured in an accident while driving your truck.
- An employee could get injured driving their own vehicle while doing work for you.
- Your work truck could get stolen.
- The trailers, equipment, and tools you use could get damaged in an accident.
You may think that you are protected from road risks with your personal auto insurance, but the plain truth is that a personal policy won’t protect your business vehicles. Only a commercial auto policy can protect the trucks, vans, or other vehicles that you use for work purposes, protect your employees while driving them, and protect your employees in their own cars if they are driving for your business.
Not running your Business like a Business
When you are just starting out your landscaping business, there can be a steep learning curve and a couple of shortcuts involved. But when you are running a business, some shortcuts just shouldn’t be taken. Even if you just have a single mower, a free pack of business cards, and one truck, your business should be treated like one.
- Written contracts may protect you from misunderstandings, liabilities, and lawsuits.
- Landscaping insurance policies protect you from major losses from lawsuits, theft, accidents, and injuries.
- Business licenses and permits protect you from fines, and get you more jobs.
Play by the rules, and always treat your business like one.
Most of the risks that your business faces can be covered with the right contractor insurance coverage. Just one incident, injury, or lawsuit could be so costly that it could put you out of business permanently. Protecting your landscaping business with the right insurance and a little know-how can help your business continue to bloom.