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USA - The main types of insurance for greenhouse operations

Greenhouse operations must deal with many types of hazards – both on and offsite – as well as employees who are susceptible to workplace injury. Various factors, such as the size and type of greenhouses, crops grown, size of the vehicle fleet and weather factors, can help to determine what those hazards are.

Hortica®, a brand of the Sentry Insurance Group, offers four main types of insurance for greenhouse operations: Business Auto insurance, Workers Compensation, Umbrella coverage and the company’s Business Package Policy, says John Hodapp, director of agency operations at Hortica.


Industry-standard policies

While agent expertise, Loss Control and Claims services may vary widely, Auto, Workers Compensation and Umbrella policy forms are standard throughout the insurance industry, Hodapp says. Workers Compensation is required by statute to protect workers in any industry, and auto insurance applies to nearly all greenhouses. “I’ve never seen a greenhouse operation that didn’t have at least a small fleet of vehicles,” he says. “They may use common or contract carriers, but they usually have some of their own trucks. They have some service trucks, maybe some company cars.”

General liability and auto policies provide protection up to the policy limits amount, Hodapp says. Umbrella coverage goes beyond that, providing additional coverage in situations such as a bad accident or general liability claim. “It’s a policy that provides protection in the event of a very serious loss that exhausts the limits of insurance provided by the other policies,” he says.

A policy above the bar

Hortica’s Business Package Policy, which provides property, liability and business income insurance, is geared specifically toward greenhouse operations and growers. “It’s really unique,” Hodapp says. “It’s not like you can buy it from every insurance agent on Main Street.”

The property coverage covers greenhouses, buildings, and what the company refers to as “business personal property,” such as fixtures, equipment and the plants themselves, Hodapp says. Plants are perishable, so growers need coverage for utility interruptions and equipment breakdowns to protect them, Hodapp says.

The Business Package Policy’s liability coverage comes into effect if someone is injured on the greenhouse premise, or if the greenhouse sells a plant or product that is defective and causes injury or property damage, Hodapp says.

The business income insurance comes into play when companies lose profit because they can’t operate their company as they normally do due to a covered loss, Hodapp says. “The policy provides coverage to pay for those lost profits and continuing expenses, so they can continue to employ key staff, such as their grower, and continue to meet their financial obligations – loans, taxes and so forth.”


Deciding on a plan

Greenhouse managers need to find the insurance coverage that works for them, Hodapp says. In general, owners of larger accounts select higher deductibles, and in terms of liability, purchase higher umbrella limits. Weather is also a determining factor: growers in cold and snowy climates are going to have different considerations than growers in warm climates. If a boiler breaks at a greenhouse in Minnesota, it is usually a bigger concern than if a boiler breaks at a greenhouse in south Florida.

The risk management process is a tool often used to help growers select types and amounts of coverage, Hodapp says. To manage risk, greenhouse managers can meet with insurance agents to identify exposures and formulate a plan for addressing them. “It may not necessarily always be insurance, but there’s a process that we go through to identify what the risks are, figure out which ones should be insured,” Hodapp says. “That’s what we do. It’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of a program.”

Hodapp says greenhouse owners have different levels of financial resources and “risk appetites.” Those with more financial resources or lower risk appetites often choose to insure everything they can, while those with fewer financial resources or higher risk appetites often choose to retain some risk.

Choosing the right insurance comes down to choosing the right insurance company, Hodapp says. “To get the job done right, you need to work with a company who specializes and has the expertise to get it right,” he says.

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