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GreenLight
12-12-2008, 11:42 AM
I have always struggled with the insurance side of small business and contracting in general. I usually feel like whomever I am talking (agents,etc)to has absolutely no grasp of what I want to be insured and exactly what I do, in fact many times they almost seem likes it's more trouble than bothering with me. They also never make me feel terribly secure about "if im covered" for this criteria or not. It's challenging because in contract landscape work, I might use a bobcat 5 days a month, I might not use one for 3 months...Just depends on the situation...Same could be said for dingo and other mini ex type machines. I guess I bring it on myself because I do install, irrigation and the occasional hardscape and lighting so im wondering how do most in here insure themselves. Umbrella policy or something more selective? Are you insuring subs as well, etc. Im just looking for peace of mind really. If anyone has some rates, policy types, things to be aware of, minimum amount of coverage, etc..I would be really interested to hear from some of you guys. Presently, im just talking about small business insurance, not health or workmans comp (scared to death of hiring employees because of the outrageous costs here)...

Elegant Outdoor Lighting
12-12-2008, 03:12 PM
General Liability insurance is soooo important. I like going with a local agent that I know I can count on to be on my side if I need help. If someone is disinterested in finding out exactly what you do, move on...there is a lot of competition in the insurance field. Typical questions asked are:
1) Gross Receipts (always guess low- the worst is that you will make more than you guess and have to pay a little more at the audit...remember, they wont give a refund if you over-estimate)
2) % of your gross that is paid out to subs
3) payroll (yes, even for GL)

Make sure you find someone who is interested in giving you the proper coverage, cheap insurance isn't worth a damn if it doesn't cover you when you need it.

Make sure it is an "Occurance" policy. You don't want to be stuck uninsured in the future for work in the past.

Find out how much (if any) they charge for additional insured. In my market, several homeowners want a certificate where they are named additional insured.

In California, with an "Admitted" company, you are covered if they go out of business and you have a claim.

Then, when you get a quote, read over the policy closely and watch for exclusions. Ones to especially look for are:
- Designated Work (make sure your work does not fall into specified exclusions)
- Independent Contractors (make sure you are covered in case your subs drop their insurance:Also make sure to get additional insured with their insurance- this means if there is any change to their insurance- the insurance company will contact you to let you know)
- Demolition (watch out for this one if you do any demo)
- Prior Acts

Also minimums here should be for $1M at least.

NightScenes
12-12-2008, 05:02 PM
I carry 3 million in general liability, workers comp (not required it Texas by the way), vehicle insurance on three trucks and my trailer. It costs a ton of money each year but I do sleep a little better. (not much)

GreenLight
12-12-2008, 09:13 PM
Great info Scott and Paul...

Scott, made notes of the things you stated, one question...Could you elaborate on the "prior acts" part?


Paul, thanks for sharing your info, I have carried general liability in the past but never felt real cozy with my coverage...You are right, insurance is outrageous but it does make you sleep better at night...My family and friends ask me all the time "why do you do most of your work alone?"...To which my response is "I can't really afford them"...Then the funny part comes when they ask "You can't afford to pay a few guys $10-$12 an hour instead of breaking your back?"...It's not worth trying to explain how much insurance company's blast premiums on folks who have manual laborers running equipment and workmans comp bs...