For painting professionals, it is crucial to obtain the right insurance coverage to protect your business against typical risks in the industry. Painting jobs carry potential hazards that can lead to substantial financial consequences. Situations such as accidental damage to a client’s property, injuries resulting from using painting tools, and project delays due to equipment failure all underline the importance of comprehensive insurance.

This guide, tailored for painters, delves into the essential insurance policies specific to the painting industry, providing insights on cost expectations and methods for efficiently managing insurance expenses. Our analysis is based on a thorough examination of over 900 insurance quotes for painters from top providers across the United States.

We also provide specialized resources focusing on key coverages essential for painters: General Liability Insurance for Painters and Workers Compensation Insurance for Painters. Additionally, we have compiled state-specific guides for all 50 states, offering localized rate information and regulatory requirements. These resources are intended to give painters a detailed understanding of the insurance landscape, facilitating well-informed choices to safeguard your painting business.

For a comprehensive overview of insurance for contractors and artisan trades, refer to our Complete Guide to Insurance for Contractors.

What Insurance Do Painters Need?

For painters, whether operating independently or managing larger enterprises, selecting the right insurance coverage is crucial for safeguarding your business. Here’s a customized breakdown for painters at different stages of their business journey:

Independent Painters or Sole Proprietors – As a basic requirement, residential painters operating independently should have:

  • General Liability: $1M per occurrence / $2M aggregate
  • Inland Marine: $10K coverage for tools and equipment

Small Painting Businesses (Approximately 3 Employees) – In addition to the above, small painting firms should consider:

  • Workers Compensation: At statutory limits required by the state
  • Commercial Auto Liability: Essential if using company vehicles
  • Commercial Property Insurance: Minimum $100K for owned office or warehouse spaces

Mid-Sized and Large Painting Companies (5 or More Employees) – For larger painting companies, the following coverages are advisable in addition to those mentioned previously:

  • Umbrella Policy: $1M or more for additional liability coverage
  • Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI): To protect against employment-related claims

While obtaining proper insurance may seem like an additional expense, it is a crucial investment for the financial security and future stability of your painting business. The specific requirements may vary slightly by state, but these guidelines provide a foundational understanding of the insurance needs for painting businesses of different sizes.

Here are some of the fundamentally vital and primary types of insurance policies that essentially all professional painters need to carry at a minimum:

General Liability Insurance for Painters

Also referred to as Painters Liability Insurance, this broad coverage protects painting businesses against any 3rd party bodily injury and property damage claims arising from their professional services and business operations. It covers and protects against expenses linked to property damage, medical payments, personal injury, advertising injury, completed projects, rented premises, contract works and legal defense costs. It does not cover employee workplace injuries or automobiles.

General liability insurance covers bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury claims arising from your operations. For painters, premiums often range from 0.7% to 2.0% of revenue for $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate limits.

Typical Policy Limits: $1 million per occurrence/$2 million aggregate

Insurance experts often recommend $1 million minimum liability coverage. Boosting from $500k to $1M marginally impacts premiums but substantially increases protection.

Typical Premium: 0.7% to 2.0% of annual revenue

Key Factors Impacting Liability Premiums for Painters:

  • Revenue: More revenue means greater exposure and claim likelihood, reflected in higher premiums.
  • Policy Limits: Certain projects/contracts may need extra coverage, increasing costs. But build these expenses into your rates to help offset.
  • Claims History: Like auto insurance, frequent claims increase premiums. A clean history keeps premiums affordable.
  • Location: Stringent state regulations can increase oversight and premiums.
  • Services: High-risk services typically warrant higher premiums than routine interior painting.

Here are average General Liability premiums for painters by state and revenues:

State$150K Revenue$500K Revenue$1M Revenue
New York$3,000$8,200$16,300
North Carolina$1,400$3,500$7,000
Average Painter Liability Premium by Revenue and State

Here are favorable General Liability premiums for painters as well as potential savings calculated off the average premiums above:

State$150K Revenue$500K Revenue$1M Revenue
Favorable RateImplied SavingsFavorable RateImplied SavingsFavorable RateImplied Savings
New York$2,20027%$5,80029%$11,70028%
North Carolina$70050%$1,40060%$2,90059%
Favorable Painter Liability Premiums and Potential Savings Calculated from Average Premiums

Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Painters

If a painting business owner hires any W2 employees to work for them, having active workers’ comp insurance coverage is legally mandatory in essentially all states. This critical coverage pays for the variety of costs directly associated with any job-related injuries or illnesses that employees may experience during the course of their work. This includes coverage for medical treatment, hospitalization, lost wages reimbursement, rehabilitation, retraining costs, death benefits to dependents and more.

Premiums depend on the risk of your staff’s responsibilities, grouped into class codes by the NCCI. With over 600 codes, this helps insurers accurately categorize and price policies. Painters mainly use code 5474, with rates ranging from $3.48 to $8.36 per $100 of payroll per year for each worker.

Typical Policy Limits: State-dependent. Policies typically have unlimited benefits. However, limits can vary based on individual state rules.

Typical Premium: $3.48 to $8.36 per $100 of payroll

Key Factors Impacting Painter’s Workers’ Comp Premium:

  • Class Codes: Employees are grouped by job type and risk level. More hazardous roles equal higher premiums. Painters mainly use code 5474.
  • State: Each state governs workers’ comp regulations including benefits, claims processes, and baseline insurance rates. The cost of living and medical care also cause geographic premium variances.
  • Experience Modifier: This figure represents your safety record, beginning at 1.0. It then adjusts up or down based on your claims history. More claims drive the modifier and premiums upward.
  • Payroll Amount: A key factor is gross payroll, calculated as payroll / $100 * rate * experience modifier. Higher payroll increases premiums.

Most and least expensive states for Plumber’s Workers Compensation Insurance:

StatePremium per $100K Payroll
New York$13,200
New Jersey$12,590
South Carolina$8,430
Most Expensive WC Premium States for Painters

StatePremium per $100K Payroll
North Dakota$2,540
West Virginia$3,100
Least Expensive WC Premium States for Plumbers

Commercial Auto Insurance for Painters

Should a painting business need to utilize company-owned vehicles regularly for operations, like transporting equipment between worksites, owning commercial auto insurance is highly recommended, if not required in some states. This insurance protects the business against any financial liabilities arising from accidents, injuries or damages involving the company vehicles when out on the job. It provides distinctly broader and more robust coverage options compared to personal auto insurance. For painters, premiums range from $1,500 to $3,000 annually per vehicle.

Typical Policy Limits: $250k/$500k/$100k. Higher limits are often recommended beyond state minimums for full protection. Painters may also need additional coverage for equipment transported. Consult an insurance expert for guidance on appropriate limits.

Typical Premium: $1,500 to $3,000 per vehicle annually

Key Factors Impacting Commercial Auto Premiums:

  • Number of Vehicles: More vehicles equal greater accident chances and higher premiums.
  • Vehicle Type: Larger vehicles like vans and trucks have greater damage potential, increasing costs.
  • Driving Records: Drivers with accidents/violations may raise premiums.
  • Equipment Transported: Transporting ladders, scaffolds, paint cans, etc. increases liability for damage/injury if items shift, influencing premiums.

Painter Bonds

Bonds, while not insurance per se, are increasingly essential for painters to maintain an active contractor’s license and legally operate in many states. These bonds offer a layer of consumer protection, assuring clients compensation for losses or damages due to substandard workmanship, inferior materials, or poor labor performance by the painting contractor for a certain period post-project completion.

Surety bonds are a commitment that painting contractors will meet their contractual duties. The bond requirements for painters differ across states and local areas, typically ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. Painters are not required to pay the full bond amount directly; instead, they pay a bond premium, which is generally 1-3% of the total bond value. This system ensures a level of accountability and reliability in the painting industry, safeguarding both the contractor and the client.

Typical Bond Amount: State Dependent. Bond amounts for painters vary from state to state, being set by each state’s specific licensing authority. For example, California requires painting contractors to carry a $25,000 surety bond to be licensed, while Texas does not mandate statewide bonding. However, many cities, counties, and municipalities in Texas have local painter bond requirements. Painters should research and comply with bonding rules for all areas where they work. Meeting painter bond requirements demonstrates a commitment to professionalism, reliability, and customer satisfaction. Establishing a reputation for integrity and workmanship can help build a painting business. Surety bonds give consumers confidence in hiring bonded painters.

Typical Premium: Amount & Credit Dependent.

Bond AmountExcellent CreditGood CreditBad Credit
$5,000$100 – $150$150 – $200$200 – $400
$10,000$100 – $300$300 – $500$500 – $1,000
$15,000$150 – $400$400 – $750$750 – $1,500
$20,000$180 – $500$500 – $1,000$1,000 – $2,000
$25,000$200 – $500$500 – $1,200$1,200 – $2,500
Illustration of bond premium by amount and credit score below

Additional Business Insurance for Painters to Consider

Beyond just the foundational insurance coverage types explained above, professional painters may also want to evaluate their unique risk profile and consider the merits of these additional insurance options for even more comprehensive protection:

Inland Marine (Tools & Equipment) Insurance

Also referred to as ‘Tools & Equipment Coverage’, Inland Marine insurance provides painters with an extremely cost-effective and flexible way to insure their movable business assets – most commonly hand tools, heavy equipment and job site machinery that’s often transported between various project sites. This coverage can be invaluable in an industry like painting, where theft or damage of expensive equipment from vehicles or job sites is an unfortunate common occurrence. Having active Inland Marine coverage ensures painters have the peace of mind that if any of their vital tools or equipment are lost, stolen or damaged, they won’t take a major financial hit to their business in having to fund full replacements entirely out of pocket. It protects the business owner’s core ability to deliver their services and keep generating income.

This covers your tools and equipment on job sites and in transit. For painters, annual premiums often range from $250 to $2,500 or more.

Typical Policy Limits: $5k to $50k. Policies have per-item limits in addition to overall coverage limits. For example, a $50k policy may have a $5k per item cap. Ensure your limit adequately covers your equipment’s value. Gear valued over $2,500 generally requires inland marine insurance.

Typical Premium: $250 to $2,500+ per year

Key Factors Impacting Inland Marine Premiums:

  • Equipment Value: Higher value equipment increases potential payouts from insurers, elevating premiums.
  • Risk Environment: Equipment used in high-crime locations may warrant higher premiums.

Commercial Property Insurance

If you own an own office, warehouse or other commercial buildings, having sufficient commercial property insurance is highly recommended to protect those major physical business assets against virtually all common hazards – from minor accidents, to large disasters like fires, to theft and vandalism. For painters, annual premiums often range from $500 to $5,000 or more.

Typical Policy Limits: Based on property value

Typical Premium: $500 to $5,000+ per year

Key Factors Impacting Commercial Property Premiums:

  • Property Value: More expensive properties lead to higher premiums because of greater potential payouts.
  • Location: Properties in areas prone to natural disasters or high crime often have elevated premiums.
  • Construction Type: Buildings featuring fire-resistant materials may qualify for discounts.

Professional Liability (Errors & Omissions) Insurance

Also referred to as Errors & Omissions (E&O) coverage, professional liability insurance essentially provides financial protection against third-party claims alleging mistakes, negligence or failure to perform professional duties from a legal standpoint. It covers ensuing costs like expensive legal bills, settlement payments and court judgments. While rarely legally required, having active professional liability insurance can provide vital protection for a painting business against potentially crippling lawsuits and damages not covered under general liability policies. Many painting contractors secure professional liability coverage, though it’s typically not legally required. Annual premiums often range from $1,000 to $3,500+.

Typical Policy Limits: $250k to $1M

Typical Premium: $1,000 to $3,500 per year

Key Factors Impacting Professional Liability Premiums:

  • Services Performed: High-risk services like external high-rise painting warrant higher premiums than routine interior painting.
  • Revenue: Painters generating more revenue appear as larger targets for lawsuits, increasing premiums.
  • Claims History: More frequent past claims drive premiums upward.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI)

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is essential for protecting employers from claims by current or former employees and job applicants. These claims can include allegations like discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination. EPLI covers legal fees, settlements, and reputational damage. Given the increasing complexity of employment laws, EPLI is crucial for businesses, including painters. Annual EPLI premiums for painting companies usually range between $2,000 to $5,000+, depending on staff size and risk factors. This insurance is key to managing risks from employment-related legal issues.

Typical Policy Limits: $100k to $1M

Typical Premium: $2,000 to $5,000+ per year

Key Factors Impacting EPLI Premiums:

  • Number of Employees: More employees increase exposure to potential claims.
  • Revenue: Higher revenues equate to larger payrolls and greater risks.
  • Claims History: Past EPLI claims drive premiums upward.
  • Industry Risk: Painting is lower-risk than sectors like financial services.
  • State Laws: State regulations like wrongful termination rules influence costs.

Cyber Liability Insurance

In today’s digital era, cyber insurance is crucial for painting contractors using technology for managing finances, records, client details, and business data. This insurance is vital in covering losses from data breaches, hacks, and malware incidents that risk client information and disrupt business software. It offers protection for IT recovery, data restoration, reputation management, income loss from outages, and liabilities related to client notifications after an attack. For small to mid-sized painting businesses, annual cyber insurance premiums typically range from $500 to $1,500.

Typical Policy Limits: $100k to $1M

Typical Premium: $500 to $1,500 per year

Key Factors Impacting Cyber Premiums:

  • Revenue: Higher revenue businesses have more customer data and appear more lucrative to hackers, increasing premiums.
  • IT Infrastructure: Strength of firewalls, encryption, and security impact costs.
  • Data Type: Sensitive client data like SSNs may raise premiums.
  • Industry: Painting poses lower cyber risks than sectors like healthcare.

Pollution Liability Insurance

Pollution liability insurance covers property damage, bodily injury, and cleanup costs caused by exposure to hazardous painting materials like paints, thinners, primers, sealers, or lead. For small to mid-size painting contractors, annual premiums range from $750 to $2,000 or more depending on materials used and coverage limits.

Typical Policy Limits: $50k to $1M

Typical Premium: $750 to $2,000 per year

Factors impacting pollution liability insurance costs:

  • Hazardous Material Use: Frequent use of chemicals like lead paint or thinners increases risks and premiums.
  • Coverage Limits: Higher limits mean greater potential payouts for insurers, elevating premiums.
  • Claims History: Past pollution-related claims drive costs upward.
  • Revenue: Larger companies perceived as higher exposures pay more.
  • Risk Management: Advanced paint storage/disposal procedures help lower premiums.

Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)

A BOP bundles general liability, commercial property, and inland marine into one policy, simplifying insurance for qualifying small painting contractors. Premium discounts are often available with BOPs. Expect annual premiums ranging from $2,000 to $8,000+ depending on your coverage limits and business characteristics.

Typical Policy Limits: GL – $500k to $1M per occurrence/aggregate; Property – $50k to $500k; Inland Marine – $10k to $25k

Typical Premium: $2,000 to $8,000+ per year

Variables influencing your BOP premiums:

  • Revenue: Higher revenues increase risks across all coverages, boosting premiums.
  • Claims History: More past claims raise premiums.
  • Location: Areas prone to natural disasters or crime lead to higher premiums.
  • Equipment Value: More or higher value equipment covered increases costs.
  • Coverage Limits: Higher limits mean larger potential payouts for insurers.

Umbrella Liability Insurance

Umbrella insurance acts as an additional layer of liability coverage for painting businesses, extending beyond the limits of their primary insurance policies. While most standard liability policies cap at $1 million to $2 million, there are rare but possible scenarios where damages can far exceed these amounts. In such cases, umbrella insurance offers several million dollars in extra coverage, making it a valuable safeguard despite the relatively minor increase in premiums. This extended coverage kicks in where your other policies reach their limits. For an extra $1 million in coverage, painters generally incur an annual cost of $500 to $1,500. Businesses categorized as high-risk might face higher premiums, but the investment in umbrella insurance can be crucial for comprehensive financial protection in the face of unusually large claims or judgments.

Typical Policy Limits: $1M ($2M or more for larger firms)

Typical Premium: $500 to $1,500 per year

Key Factors Impacting Umbrella Premiums:

  • Business Size: Larger businesses have greater risks and claim potential, warranting higher premiums.
  • Services Performed: Specialized or dangerous work like high-rise exteriors may increase costs.
  • Location: Local laws, risks, and cost of living impact pricing.
  • Coverage Limits: Your other policies’ limits affect the umbrella insurance cost.
  • Claims History: More past claims mean higher umbrella premiums.

Total Cost of Painter Insurance Programs

Your insurance needs and costs evolve as your painting business grows. Key factors like staff size, years in business, and revenue impact coverage requirements and premiums.

Fledgling operations with few employees and assets have modest insurance needs. But taking on bigger projects, hiring staff, accumulating equipment, and generating more revenue expand your policies and premiums.

A major factor is your claims history. The longer you operate without claims, the more affordable your insurance. More frequent claims lead to higher premiums. Consider this when evaluating your insurance needs.

Here’s a summary of sample painting contractors, typical insurance policies, and illustrative premiums. Every business is unique, so consult an insurance broker familiar with your specific risks. Carriers specialize in painting contractors. An expert broker provides access to suitable carriers, enabling a tailored insurance program protecting your painting operation.

Busineess Type:Coverages Included:Total Cost of Insurance:
Sole Prop Painter
$150K Revenue
General Liability (GL) || $1M per occurrence / $2M total
Commercial Auto || $100K/$300K/$100K
Inland Marine || $10K
Painting Business
2-3 Employees
$500K Revenue
General Liability (GL) || $1M per occurrence / $2M total
Workers’ Comp || *Required
Commercial Auto || $250K/$500K/$100K
Inland Marine || $15K
Bond || $5K
Painting Business
5-7 Employees
$1M Revenue
General Liability (GL) || $1M per occurrence / $2M total
Workers’ Comp || *Required
Commercial Auto || $500K/$1M/$100K
Inland Marine || $25K
Bond || $25K
Umbrella || $1M

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