Top Environmental Liability Risks That Landscapers Face

From commercial settings that incorporate an abundance of trees and plants, to freshly maintained lawns in front of any given home, the positive impact that landscape businesses provide to our communities is clearly visible. But what about the risks? There are certain state and local regulations regarding pollutants that can expose a landscaper to claims. In this article, we’ll go over the common risks found in a landscaping business and how insurance agents can protect this group of professionals with an environmental impairment liability program

Pesticides Drift and Settle on Nearby Surfaces

Landscapers work directly with the environment on a daily basis and they utilize different methods and materials to achieve a beautiful end result. Unfortunately, some of these methods may result in pollution to the environment while they are beautifying it. When pesticides or herbicides are sprayed onto plants and trees, a gust of wind can cause these particles to go airborne thereby settling on nearby plants and other surfaces. If pesticides have been detected, local regulations may impose penalties and fines. 

Fertilizers Harm Nearby Ecosystems

Many landscaping sites may require the application of fertilizers. Some fertilizers, especially synthetic ones, contain toxic chemicals, such as nitrapyrin, dicyandiamide, or carbamoyl methylpyrazole. These can contaminate the surrounding areas, especially during storms where there is soil runoff. Some synthetic ingredients in fertilizers can even lead to the growth of algae once they have been leached into nearby lakes; in turn, excess algae growth can harm ecosystems and deplete oxygen and light levels within those lakes. Although site application of fertilizers doesn’t always lead to these types of scenarios, it’s beneficial to keep in mind if your client is applying fertilizer at a site where nearby lakes are present. 

Storage of Pesticides & Fertilizers Contaminate a Site

Many landscaping businesses may choose to store their fertilizers and pesticides in a self-storage facility. Self-storage facilities tend to have an agreement within the contract that forbids the storage of contaminants and other toxic materials. A landscaper may not be aware that some of their landscaping materials fall under this category. Excess accounts of pesticides and fertilizers that are stored on these premises can result in contamination of the storage unit which can lead to high clean-up costs. If the storage facility owner does not have a limited pollutant policy coverage in place, then the facility owner can file a claim against the tenant – in this case the landscaper.

Environmental Impairment Liability: A Safety Net

For most of the risks associated with landscaping activities, when there are pesticides and fertilizers involved, there is a clear solution. Whether the fertilizers and pesticides have contaminated a storage unit, a neighbor’s lawn, a nearby lake, or another site, local regulations will require a cleanup. Detoxifying these sites from the pollutants can be costly, and may not be within reach of the landscaper’s budget. 

Fortunately, an environmental impairment liability policy will cover the costs for both on-site and off-site cleanup. If you have a client in the landscaping business, you are in a unique position to help protect their business with this type of coverage. Have any questions about environmental impairment liability or environmental liability insurance that weren’t covered in this article? You can find more information about our program here, or you can contact the Quaker Special Risks environmental team directly. 

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