For landscapers in California, a well-manicured lawn is a work of art. But running a successful landscaping business in the Golden State involves more than mowing straight lines and pruning shrubs. It’s about protecting your company, employees, and reputation from unforeseen perils. A key shield against these risks is insurance. This guide will uncover what landscaper insurance costs in California, factors that influence costs based on your business’s size and stage, and variables that impact premiums. We’ll also provide tips to control expenses while getting the coverage you need.

California landscapers must have the right landscaping insurance coverage to operate legally in the state. This usually includes general liability protection for landscapers to protect against third-party claims and workers’ compensation coverage for landscaping businesses to cover employee injuries on the job.

Key Statistics about Landscapers in California

  • There are over 105,000 landscapers and groundskeepers in California, with average annual salaries of $42,370 according to 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • The top metropolitan regions for landscaper employment are Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, San Diego-Carlsbad, and Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade.

  • Typical insurance policies landscaping companies require include general liability, workers’ compensation, commercial auto, inland marine, surety bonds, and property insurance. Costs range widely based on characteristics like annual revenue, payroll amount, claims history, number of vehicles, equipment values, and more.

  • General liability premiums often range from 0.5% to 2% of revenue. For a landscaper with $500,000 in revenue, that equates to $2,500 to $10,000 in GL premium.

  • Workers’ compensation premiums range from $1.25 to $12.09 per $100 of payroll. At $100,000 in payroll, a landscaper would pay $1,250 to $12,090 for workers’ comp.

  • Commercial auto premiums typically run from $2,000 to $4,500 annually per vehicle.

Key Factors Influencing Insurance Costs

Your insurance needs and premiums will evolve as your landscaping company grows. Here are key factors impacting costs:

Revenue: More revenue means greater exposure, raising likelihood of claims. This increases premiums for general liability, workers’ compensation, and other policies.

Payroll Amount: Payroll directly impacts workers’ compensation premiums. California comps rates range from $1.25 to $12.09 per $100 of payroll. Higher payroll equals higher premiums.

Number of Employees: More employees increase chances of injuries and claims. This raises workers’ compensation and general liability premiums.

Number of Vehicles: Additional vehicles increase auto insurance costs. Commercial auto premiums apply per vehicle.

Claims History: Frequent past claims drive premiums upward across all policies. Maintaining a clean loss run keeps rates low.

Equipment Value: Higher value equipment leads to more expensive inland marine premiums. Per-item limits also impact costs.

Services Performed: Specialized or dangerous work (like tree trimming) warrants higher premiums than routine mowing and pruning.

Location: Areas prone to wildfires, crime, litigation or severe weather can increase premiums.

Small Landscaping Business Insurance Costs

To make costs more concrete, here are typical premium ranges for California landscapers with $150,000 in annual revenue, 1 owner, and 1 employee:

General Liability: $1,100 to $3,100

General liability covers third-party bodily injury and property damage claims arising from your operations. Typical limits are $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate. Premiums often range from 0.5% to 2% of revenue. For landscapers with $150,000 in revenue, premiums commonly run $1,100 to $3,100. Higher risk services, locations, claims history or other factors could push costs above this range.

Workers’ Compensation: $3,000 to $5,200

Workers’ compensation insurance covers workplace injuries and illnesses. Premiums are based on payroll and risk classification – landscapers fall under code 0042. Rates range from $1.25 to $12.09 per $100 of payroll. With $100,000 in payroll, premiums would run $3,000 to $5,200. The experience modifier also impacts pricing based on claims history.

Surety Bonds: $250 to $1,250

Surety bonds covers dishonest acts by employees and breaches of contract. This is important for landscapers bidding on public sector jobs. Premiums typically run 1% to 3% of the bond amount. For a $25,000 bond, that’s $250 to $1,250 annually.

Commercial Auto: $2,000 to $4,500 per vehicle

This covers vehicles used for business purposes like work trucks. Premiums depend on factors like vehicle value, driver records, liability limits, and more. $2,000 to $4,500 per vehicle annually is typical.

Inland Marine: $1,000 to $3,000

Inland marine insurance covers landscaping tools and equipment onsite and in transit. Average costs range from $1,000 for basic equipment up to $3,000 or more for specialized machinery. Per-item limits also impact pricing.

Medium Landscaping Business Insurance Costs

As operations grow, insurance needs expand. For landscapers with $500,000 in annual revenue, 1 owner, and 3 employees, typical premium ranges are:

General Liability: $1,100 to $10,400

At 0.5% to 2% of revenue, premiums on $500,000 in revenue would run $2,500 to $10,000. With more employees and exposure, costs could reach the high end of $10,400.

Workers’ Compensation: $9,000 to $14,800

With 3 employees and $300,000 in payroll, workers’ comp premiums would run from $9,000 to $14,800 based on the $1.25 to $12.09 per $100 of payroll rates.

Surety Bonds: $250 to $1,250

The premium range stays similar as bonding requirements may not increase drastically for medium-sized landscapers.

Commercial Auto: $6,000 to $13,500 for 3 vehicles

With an expanded fleet, commercial auto costs rise. Three vehicles at $2,000 to $4,500 per vehicle amounts to $6,000 to $13,500.

Inland Marine: $2,000 to $4,500

Additional equipment results in higher inland marine premiums.

Large Landscaping Business Insurance Costs

For enterprises with $1 million in annual revenue, 1 owner, and 5 employees, premiums often fall in these ranges:

General Liability: $1,100 to $19,100

At 0.5% to 2% of revenue, GL premiums on $1 million in revenue equate to $5,000 to $20,000. Factors like high-risk services could push costs to the top end.

Workers’ Compensation: $15,000 to $23,200

With $500,000 in payroll and 5 employees, workers’ comp would run $15,000 to $23,200 based on CA rates.

Surety Bonds: $250 to $1,250

Bonding requirements may not increase substantially for firms at this level.

Commercial Auto: $10,000 to $22,500 for 5 vehicles

Five vehicles at $2,000 to $4,500 per vehicle leads to $10,000 to $22,500 in commercial auto premiums.

Inland Marine: $3,000 to $6,000

More equipment and higher property values increase inland marine insurance costs.

Additional Insurance Coverages

Beyond these core lines, additional insurance policies landscapers may need include:

Pollution Liability: Covers third-party bodily injury and property damage from exposure to chemicals like fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides used in landscaping.

Employment Practices Liability: Shields against lawsuits alleging wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment and other employee claims.

Cyber Insurance: Crucial coverage for data breaches, hacking, ransomware attacks and electronic theft.

Commercial Property: Protects buildings, warehouses, offices, and other business property against vandalism, theft, fire, severe weather and other losses.

Umbrella Insurance: Provides extra liability limits above primary policies to protect against catastrophic claims. Limits of $1 million or more are common.

Business Interruption: Covers income lost due to suspended operations from a covered peril like fire. Essential for recovering lost profits.

Business Owner’s Policy (BOP): Bundles general liability, property, and inland marine into one simpler, discounted policy.

How Insurers Determine Landscaper Premiums

When pricing policies, insurers evaluate many factors about landscaping businesses. These include:

Claims History: More past claims translate to higher premiums across all policy types. Maintaining a clean, loss-free history is crucial.

Services Performed: Specialized or dangerous work like tree trimming warrants higher premiums than routine maintenance.

Safety Protocols: Rigorous safety programs, equipment maintenance logs, and driver training may qualify for discounts.

Equipment Used: Chainsaws, wood chippers, aerial lift vehicles, and other dangerous equipment increase risks.

Chemical Usage: Frequent use of hazardous chemicals like pesticides raises premiums. Proper chemical handling is key.

Location: Areas prone to wildfires, crime, litigation or severe weather can mean higher premiums.

Driver Records: Clean MVRs result in lower commercial auto premiums. Check all driver records.

Payroll Amount: Workers’ compensation premiums are largely driven by payroll size. Control payroll costs.

Revenue: More revenue means greater exposure, resulting in higher premiums for multiple lines.

Understanding how carriers view these factors helps landscapers control costs. Maintaining rigorous safety protocols, nurturing a positive loss history, and implementing strong risk management programs keep premiums affordable. An experienced agent provides guidance navigating these nuances.

Tips for Controlling Landscaper Insurance Costs

Here are some additional strategies California landscaping companies can utilize to reduce their insurance premiums:

  • Raise deductibles to lower premiums, but ensure you can cover out-of-pocket costs.

  • Bundle multiple policies with one insurer for multi-policy discounts.

  • Join trade associations like PLANET for access to group insurance programs.

  • Implement safety protocols like driver training, equipment logs, and chemical handling procedures.

  • Choose inland marine insurance with coverage options for specialized equipment.

  • Invest in theft-prevention like GPS tracking and safety features for equipment.

  • Keep payroll tightly aligned with exposure to control workers’ compensation costs.

  • Consider higher loss ratio insurers who spend less on claims relative to premiums.

  • Review and optimize coverage limits annually as your business and risks evolve.

Getting the Right Insurance for Your Landscaping Business

Choosing inadequate or inappropriate insurance coverage can prove catastrophic for landscapers. Common pitfalls include:

  • General liability limits that are too low for contract requirements

  • Failing to cover specialized equipment on inland marine policies

  • No pollution liability for pesticide application

  • Excluded operations like tree trimming

  • Underinsured property values

We strongly advise partnering with an expert landscaping insurance specialist. They have access to markets with coverage options and flexibility meeting landscapers’ precise needs. The right agent advocates across multiple carriers to build an integrated insurance portfolio protecting your company. They stay on top of emerging exposures impacting landscapers like wildfires, changing legal environments, new equipment, and more, to ensure your coverage evolves in step with your risks. An experienced landscaping insurance expert provides invaluable guidance making insurance decisions.


Insurance is vital for California landscaping companies seeking to protect their business, people, and property. Work with an experienced landscaping insurance specialist to ensure adequate, affordable coverage tailored to your company’s needs and evolving risks. Implement risk management best practices to control premiums. And nurture a loss-free claims history across all policy types. Keep your organization flowering without the dead weight of unexpected perils. Stay safe, remain insured, and keep the grass green!