For many companies, liability insurance is an option. However, for striping companies it is more of a necessity. Having a liability policy will accomplish two goals. First, it will cover you against liability if you damage something on someone else’s property. For example, say you get too close to a car and scrape it or say a person slips in your wet paint and injures themselves. You are going to want to be covered for these events even though they are unlikely. With that being said I want to go over the main reason for having liability insurance. It helps you get jobs! I can’t tell you how many times I have bid a job and been asked whether I carry liability insurance. If I did not have it I would not have gotten the jobs. Other striping companies that don’t carry it are now no longer competition on the nice jobs just because of that one item. (Another item they will ask for is workers comp or a workers comp exemption. I will cover that in the next article.)
The question many stripers have is what type of policy to get. If you are mainly striping and doing a little sealcoating manually now and then you may want to look into a specialty painting contractors policy. If you begin using heavy equipment that can injure someone you will need to step up to a more comprehensive policy. An insurance agent can help you determine which is best for you. Find an agent you can trust and make sure they don’t sell you more or less than what you need. The liability limit is something that customers look at. Get what you can afford and if you need to bump it up you can do that by calling your agent.
In conclusion, for a small striping company the liability coverage that a policy provides is comforting, but very few companies actually do any damage or hurt someone where they use that part of a policy. The main reason for having the policy would be making the customer happy and getting jobs. For a larger company with heavy equipment liability is a must and is the most important reason to carry insurance. If your machines injure someone the policy will cover you. Without it you would be out of business. Getting jobs would be secondary in this situation.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida, Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 30 years experience in the parking lot striping business. Expert in reflective visibility solutions.