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Common claims

Features - Business Management, Industry News

Simple steps to trim your insurance costs.

Matt Lyon | July 29, 2011

One of your employees is traveling between job sites when he receives a call on his cell phone. As he leans over to grab the phone, he doesn’t see the car in front of him brake and hits the other vehicle from behind at 35 mph.

Unfortunately, this is a common accident scenario. It can result in workers’ compensation and auto insurance claims for your business, as well as increased premiums on your insurance policies at the next renewal, lost productivity and lots of paperwork.

When buying insurance, landscapers and their insurance agents often focus on the worst types of claims that could happen. But it’s equally important to focus on the scenarios most likely to happen.

These are the types of accidents and mishaps that can drive up insurance costs, strain relationships and hurt a company’s reputation with  suppliers, customers and employees.

In a recent review of thousands of claims involving small business customers, The Hartford identified several of the most common categories of insurance claims for landscapers [see chart]. 

Consider these common claim scenarios for landscaping businesses.

Employee injury. Lifting, digging and working with mowers are all in a day’s work for landscapers. Given the physical nature of the work, on-the-job injuries can be more severe for landscapers than other industries, costing employers more and requiring longer recovery times.

Back, leg and other general strain injuries are particularly common. Workers’ compensation claims can impact a business in multiple ways.

An employer may need to hire replacement help while an injured employee is recovering. Also, since premiums are often based on a company’s prior claim experience, a significant claim can trigger a cost increase at policy renewal.

Damage to  property. You’re completing a job for a client that involves planting several large exotic trees. You have purchased the trees – $3,000 each – from a nursery where you have a longstanding relationship.

While moving the trees from the nursery’s delivery truck to the final planting destination, one of your seasonal employees drives his front loader down a steep hill, and two trees fall off, resulting in split trunks and ruined trees.

These types of claims, commonly known as “property damage as a result of handling,” accounted for approximately one in four liability claims for landscaping companies.

While they tend to be less costly and resolution is faster and easier than other types of liability claims, they can impair relationships with both clients and suppliers.

Theft of equipment. You just bought a new zero-turn mower to increase productivity. While a mower may seem too big to steal, the potential for theft is actually very real. Our review of claims found that theft accounted for nearly three in four property claims among landscapers.

Smaller, more common tools and equipment, which can be easily hidden and removed from job sites, are more often the targets of theft, but larger equipment is stolen as well.

The author is with the the small commercial insurance division of The Hartford Financial Services Group. He can be reached at mlyon@giemedia.com.

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