Power Washing Business Insurance
If you're operating a power washing business, or thinking of starting one, you should give considerable thought to having an insurance policy that protects you and your clients in case an accident occurs. Power washing can consist of buildings, boats, cars, roofs, and windows to clean or remove paint and other unwanted coatings.
As a power washing contractor, what you don't know can and at some point likely will hurt you or a client. If you have assets to protect, commercial insurance will allow you to grow your business without fear that a small, and sometimes frivolous lawsuit will destroy everything you've worked so hard to build. Even if you don't have assets, if you care about your clients and want to treat them the way you would like to be treated, having the correct type of insurance coverage protects them in the case of a loss that you may not have the ability to pay.
The good news is that most power washing businesses operate sensibly and insurance premium rates are low, at least in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the areas that 1 Reason Insurance writes business at the time of this post. Also, cold and hot water pressure washers generally cost the same amount to insure for the average contractor. Because hot water acts as an emulsifier (similar to a stirring or shaking action), hot water can allow you to reduce your additives, including soap and/or chemicals to the mix. It's important to balance temperature with the material power washed. For example, wood can absorb water, and especially hot water, causing wood fibers to initially swell and and cause softening after, and a possibly an insurance claim. The type of media used in the power wash can make or break your business, so make sure to investigate what materials water will come into contact with, and other materials that may not be so obvious to your client when they are describing the job. Remember, as a power washing professional, it's your job to know what your client doesn't in relation to the job, perils, and hazards.
Regardless of the water temperature, if the outside weather will cause the water to freeze, you'll want to know your environment before washing or fear a slip and fall accident.
Similar to most kinds of contractor insurance, you can expect carriers to want to see at least three years management experience and an expectation that you know what you're doing. The most common policy limit for pressure washing business general liability is $1 million, and before anyone will want to risk that much money, they'll want to know you know what you're doing.
Power Washing Business with Employees
As your business grows, and most do, you'll be faced with either hiring people, or staying at the maximum size you can operate on your own. Some business owners will try to hire "sub contractors" instead of employees in an attempt to save money. That's fine as long as both the state and IRS agree that the people working for you are indeed contractors. If either one disagrees, you may have potential liability on your hands and financial exposure to both government / regulatory agencies and people working for you. If the people working for you are correctly classified as independent contractors, and there are ways to properly structure it so that they are, you'll want to make sure you receive a certificate of insurance from each. Just about every general liability policy covering power washing businesses will want your subs to also have a general liability policy with a level of coverage of at least yours or greater.
If people working for you are employees, they'll most likely be covered under the workmans' comp laws and a workers' comp policy will be required. Depending on your state that your operation is based out of, you may get a competitive quote, or for example in Wisconsin, the state regulates the pricing for any given class of work performed. Despite Wisconsin regulating the price, there are ways to potentially reduce your effective workmans' comp costs and you'll want to speak with an insurance agent at 1 Reason Insurance to find out what your options are. Again, workers' comp policies are generally lower cost after a number of years in business.
Power Washing Business with Business Personal Property
Some power washing contractors use expensive equipment, including self (gas) powered washers that can feed several sprays at once. Any business property that leaves the primary location should have what's known as "inland marine" coverage. Inland Marine insurance coverage includes business personal property that is moved from location to location, like mobile power washing tools and equipment. Standard business personal property coverage only covers the property while it's at it's designated address. If your agent isn't aware of the differences, and it's possible with a home and auto agent that doesn't specialize in commercial insurance, you could be left out in the cold if your property get stolen or destroyed at a job site.
Power Washing Business with Commercial Auto
Personal auto insurance policies don't typically cover anything that is business or commercial related. If you're driving a pickup truck going from jobsite to jobsite and your truck is covered by a personal auto policy, you will want to make sure that you're covered by asking your agent questions. One of the reasons some business owners decide to stick with a personal auto policy instead of a commercial auto policy is the belief that a personal auto policy costs less. Usually, and this is especially true for company's that are profitable, commercial insurance actually costs less when the final accounting is complete. The reason why, is because usually (and you'll want to confirm with your tax professional), you can deduct your commercial auto insurance from your business income and that "usually" more than offsets any price difference if the commercial auto costs more.
The other reason, and usually way more important in the grand scheme of things, is that a personal auto policy that denies a claim because the vehicle was used in a commercial setting leaves the driver and the vehicle's owner in a place they never want to be. For example, think about this for a moment. You have an employee drive your vehicle to "get something" and they cause an accident. If your insurance carrier says the claim is excluded under a commercial use exclusion, not only is your driver potentially on the hook, so is your business.
Just the legal bills alone could destroy the financial status of the employee and your business. Not to mention the victim in the crash may be left without the ability to pay for needed medical care. In short, for most contractors, commercial auto insurance makes a whole lot of sense.
That's the usual insurance coverage bought by commercial power washing companies. General liability, workers comp, property, inland marine, and or commercial auto.
If you would like to receive a quote, please give us a call, or fill out our quick form and we'll give you a call to go over your requirements.
Robert Weinstein is a husband, dad, stock market junkie, real estate broker, and of course…Insurance agent. Interests include my family, economics, marketing, technology, real estate, finance/investing, history, and Asia.
Robert’s insurance expertise includes having the designation of Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC) and assist in asset protection for families with members entering retirement.
Robert is also an accomplished syndicated writer whose work can be found in TheStreet, MainStreet, CNBC, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, MSN Money, The Money Show, Stock Saints, Motley Fool, Fidelity, Minyanville, RealMoney Pro, and many national and international newspapers.