Q: Am I covered under General Liability Insurance if I use pesticides?
I am looking for General Liability Insurance with $1 million per occurrence limit for a startup pest business in New York. I'm looking for insurance to start in 2015. We will be doing lawn applications only for 2015 but will be doing more starting in 2016. NY state DEC site has a PDF for specific requirements for liability insurance. Thanks for any help you can offer. — Rich, New York
A: As Rich points out, the state of New York requires a business to have General Liability Insurance with a $1 million per occurrence limit if it applies pesticides. (You can read the Department of Environmental Conservation's [PDF] guidelines here.) Many other states have similar regulations, but be sure to look up your local laws because the specifics might be different.
As far as acquiring landscaping insurance goes, using pesticides and fertilizers usually does not bar you from coverage so long as you use over-the-counter products. Anything stronger is prohibited by our carriers (so don't bust out your crop-duster plane just yet). As for your policy limits, most General Liability policies for small businesses have a $1 million occurrence limit, but verify this with your insurance agent.
Also worth noting is that some commercial contracts require certain insurance limits, too. So if you serve commercial clients, check to see if they require a specific amount of General Liability coverage, even if your state doesn't.
Lastly, Rich states his business will doing more than just lawn applications in 2016. If your business changes its services, it's important that you mention these additional services in your renewal application next year to ensure you continue to have adequate coverage.
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