Specialized Business Insurance & Risk Management Blog

Structural Considerations for Greenhouses to Prevent Snow Damage

GreenhouseImage Credit:

A significant problem for nurseries during the winter season is the damaged caused to greenhouses and equipment during snow storms. As snow builds up on a greenhouse, it begins to put tremendous pressure and weight on the structure. Eventually, if the structure is not set up properly, this weight will take its toll and crush the greenhouse leaving the business owner to deal with the costly task of fixing the damage to equipment, the structure, and the plants inside the structure

Take the following real life case from 2009 as an example of the high costs snow damage can cause:

Oregon nurseries say winter storms have done a number on some greenhouses, and the damage to plants wont be known fully until spring.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries says that at a seedling operation in Molalla, more than a foot of snow and ice crushed 72 of 84 greenhouses. Another operator estimated structure and equipment loss at more than $1 million.

Claims Journal

Preventive measures can be taken when designing a greenhouse to help manage this risk. When building a greenhouse, be sure that foundation posts are large enough to support the weight of the building and that the greenhouse has diagonal bracing. All post connections should have the proper bolts and screws reinforcing them. When building individual greenhouses next to each other, be sure toleave around one foot of space between individual greenhouses. This will help prevent the sidewalls from collapsing in as snow accumulates.

After the greenhouse is properly built, there are still preventive measures to put into action. Any cracked or broken glass that is noticed should be replaced immediately. The heating system should be turned on and should maintain 60 degrees Fahrenheit and energy screens should be retracted in order to melt the snow away. It is also critical to have a standby generator available in case of a power outage occurring during the snow storm.

Designing a greenhouse properly and taking the correct steps prevent snow damage will reduce business risk for the business owner and save them from some financial trouble.

For more information on greenhouse growers insurance and risk management, visit GrowPro..

Plumbing Risks: Gas Explosions

Gas ExplosionImage Credit:

Common practice used by plumbers when purging gas lines has always been to open the gas valve and, once they smell the familiar scent of gas, shut the valve off. But what if the gas has lost its odor? Then simply relying on the ability to recognize the smell of gas proves to be a dangerous and risky practice.

In 1937, after a deadly explosion at a Texas school, a law was passed to add a chemical to natural gas that would give it that rotten egg smell that has become the tell tale sign that there is gas present in the air. What is not common knowledge is that this odor can fade and even disappear because the steel and plastic piping can absorb the odor. This is known as “natural gas odor fade”. Without the ability to smell the gas, a plumber may purge a gas line before connecting a fixture allowing odorless gas to fill up an enclosed space and mix with the air. This mixture has the potential to cause a serious explosion.
To help mitigate the risk of a gas explosion occurring, remember:

  • NEVER rely on your sense of smell alone to detect the presence of natural gas.
  • ALWAYS use gas detection equipment during purging or when working on or around gas piping systems, i.e., combustible gas detector.
  • Be aware of other signs of a gas leak besides the smell: a hissing, whistling or roaring sound near a gas appliance or pipeline; a damaged connection to a gas appliance.
  • Make sure to purge gas lines in a well ventilated area, never into an enclosed space.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Outside of the obvious risk of injury to the plumber that a gas explosion would cause, explosions can cause serious injury to the customer and serious structural damage to the building or house, leaving a business owner opened to some severe claims being filed against them. Following the above guidelines and understanding that using only the sense of smell to detect gas is a dangerous practice, will reduce the chance of a gas explosion occurring which will result in less business risk for the business owner.

For more information on plumbing insurance and risk management, please visit PlumbingPro.

Reducing Veterinarian Risk: Handling, Lifting, and Restraining Dogs

A large part of the day-to-day business of a veterinary hospital is the physical handling of dogs. These animals may be calm and docile, or they may be angry and irritated. In either case, the level of risk is high and the opportunity for an accident that leaves the veterinarian opened to litigation is always present. This is why it is so important to train staff on the proper way to handle animals that are brought into the hospital. The entire humane handling process requires an appraisal of each animal’s behavior, an adequate number of properly trained staff, an appropriate choice of location for the procedures, and proper equipment that is readily available

Always observe the animal behavior before approaching and get their attention by calling the pet by name and encouraging him to come to you. If the animal does not come to you, slowly approach him from the front. Approaching the animal from behind can cause the animal to be surprised and raise the chances of an accident occurring. If the owner is holding the pet, let them place the animal down on the table, instead of taking the pet from the owner’s arms. Otherwise, the animal may become protective of the owner when you reach out to them.

To lift a dog from the floor to the examination table, put one arm in front of the animal’s chest and the other behind the rear legs or under the stomach and lift in a scooping motion. A larger dog may require 2 people to lift with one person lifting behind the front legs and the other under the stomach.

When it is determined that restraint is necessary, always remember that less is more. Excessive restraint may cause the animal to become irritated, aggressive, and/or uncooperative. The least amount of restraint needed to allow the Vet to do their job should be applied. Talk to the dog in a soft, soothing tone. The owner can be within sight of the animal and talk to it try to calm it down but should NEVER be the one to restrain the animal. This would leave the business opened to serious lawsuits if an accident were to happen. If the animal attempts to bite or has a history of biting, than the use of a muzzle is necessary.


Proper handling, lifting and restraint of dogs during a physical examination will lead to happier customers and a lower chance of a claim being filed against a Vet. But even with a well trained staff and a properly equipped facility at a veterinarian’s disposal, claims can still be filed against a business owner. In this event, veterinarians deserve to have a defense with their needs in mind through a coverage program like PetPro.

For more information about pet care insurance and risk management, visit PetPro.

Risk Management for Landscapers: Equipment Transportation

Most landscapers are aware of the risks involved with landscaping work while on the job site. Employee injury and property damage tend to be the most common risks involved in the landscaping line of business. While landscapers recognized these as potential liabilities inherent with this type of work, they often ignore a major part of the process that can cause some serious business risks: traveling to and from the worksite. Traveling with all the necessary, often heavy, equipment needed to perform a job can lead to accidents leaving the business owner opened to claims being filed against them.

Take this real world example:

A Philadelphia man is suing a Maryland business over claims he sustained head injuries and completely lost his sense of smell following a chain reaction accident triggered by items that fell off of the back of a landscaping truck.

The lawsuit says that the defendant failed to adequately secure its load of wheelbarrows and other landscaping tools, causing the items to be ejected from the bed of the truck and land on the highway, which triggered the multi-vehicle accident.

The Pennsylvania Record

Accidents like this can be avoided if the time is taken to make sure that all equipment is properly and safely loaded into the truck. To help mitigate the risk, make sure to do the following:

  • Be sure to properly balance the cargo load in the trailer. Unbalanced cargo can cause the trailer to sway.
  • NEVER overload the trailer or pick-up bed.
  • For large equipment, use chains or straps with ratchet load binders to secure.
  • Double check that all straps and chains are fastened properly before driving.
  • When driving, make sure stop gradually to prevent cargo from shifting and avoid exceeding the speed limit.

The points above may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how many landscapers forget these simple steps when they are in a rush or just following their daily routine on auto-pilot. It is important for landscapers to find a way to remind themselves and their employees to properly load and secure their vehicle; as it goes a long way in preventing accidents.

For more information on landscaping insurance and risk management, visit LandProTreePro.

Snowblower Safety Tips

Brought to you by LandProTreePro, commercial insurance for landscapers, arborists, and tree services.

The winter months have arrived and – especially in some parts of the country – plenty of snow has arrived with them. This means that it’s time to bring out those snowblowers and start the snow removal process. While the snowblower is an extremely helpful tool, it also poses some serious safety hazards if not handled properly. Here are some safety tips to help reduce the chances of these hazards taking place.

It’s important to always wear the proper gear when operating a snowblower. Non-slip boots should be worn for improved traction, along with goggles and earbuds to avoid damaging eyes and ears. Jackets and gloves should be worn to protect from the cold weather conditions. Scarves or hoods with strings attached should NEVER be worn, as these low-hanging items can easily get caught on handles, or even stuck in the impeller blades. If you must wear them, be sure that loose ends are securely tucked-in and out of harm’s way.

Prior to using the snowblower, make sure to read the instruction manual and make sure that everyone using the machine knows how to use it. During use, make sure to keep clear of the discharge opening and keep bystanders at a safe distance from the machine. Chunks of ice and gravel can be thrown out at high speed, and can be very dangerous, even lethal. Keep hands and feet away from the moving components on the machine and never operate the machine without all guards and other safety devices in place and working.

If the snowblower jams:

  • Turn off the machine!
  • Disengage the clutch.
  • Wait at least five seconds after shutting the machine off to allow blaces to completely stop rotating
  • If you need to clear impacted snow, always use a stick or a broom handle…NEVER use your hands for this.
  • Keep a clear head and maintain your concentration. Having a conversation with a neighbor while operating a snow blower can be a recipe for disaster.


These guidelines can help landscapers and other users to mitigate the risks that are inherent with operating a snowblower in cold, snowy conditions.

For more information about our LandProTreePro commercial insurance program, please, visit LandProTreePro.

Herbicide Risks for Landscapers and Arborists

Damaged TreeImage Credit:

Herbicides are sprays that are used to kill invasive species of plants, more commonly known as weeds. Different types of herbicides are used to get rid of certain types of weeds. Using the wrong type of herbicide in the wrong place can have detrimental effects on the plants that the landscaper wants to keep healthy.

However, sometimes things can happen that are totally out of the landscapers control. They use the spray in the right quantities and in the right situations, but damage is still done. The biggest and most recent example of this was caused by an herbicide made by Dupont called Imprelis. The herbicide has been linked to causing irreversible damage to many types of trees including:

  • Norway Spruce: A large evergreen coniferous tree. It is an important timber and ornamental tree native to Northern Europe and is used in reforestation both there and in North America.
  • Deodora Cedar: An excellent evergreen with graceful pendulous branches. They are tall trees with large trunks and massive, irregular heads of spreading heads.
  • Balsam Fir: A North American fir, a small to medium size evergreen tree 46-66 feet tall with a narrow conic crown.
  • Willow Trees: Graceful and refined, easily recognized by its open crown of ground-sweeping branches.
  • Conifer Trees: Conifers or softwoods are classed as gymnosperms or plants with naked seeds not enclosed in an ovary. They have needle leaves and pollen with bladders.
  • Poplar Trees: Any of several species of trees belonging to the willow family, containing 35 species of trees. They are native to North America and divided into three main groups, cottonwoods, aspens and poplars.
  • Eastern White Pine: A large pine native to eastern North America, also known as White Pine, Northern White Pine, Soft Pine and Weymouth Pine in the U.K.

Landscapers and property owners who have reported Imprelis tree death and damage are now faced with the prospect of spending thousands of dollars to replace dead or damaged trees. One landscaper told The New York Times that he had already spent $150,000 to replace customers’ trees that may have been damaged by Imprelis. The executive director of the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association reported that one member was looking to replace 1,000 damaged trees.


Landscapers and Arborists who spray herbicide as part of their operations need to keep up on the sprays they’re using. The environmentally safe herbicide Imprelis turned out to not only kill weeds, but also did permanent damage to trees that landscapers were being held responsible to replace.

Keeping tabs on the sprays that a landscaping business is using can help to mitigate risk and avoid claims being made against the landscaping company. Not to mention, it will aid in keeping the company in a positive light with their customer base.

For more information, visit LandProTreePro.

Arborist Risk Management: Tree Climbing

CarabinerArborists face many risks with the myriad of tree services they perform on the job every day. Of all the workers that make up a tree services team, perhaps the one that faces the most exposure are the men who climb up the tree to cut down dangerous limbs, prune, or prepare a tree to be taken down.

These workers climb up trees that can be anywhere from 15 to 45 feet tall; and in some rare cases even taller. When working at such great heights, safety becomes a number one priority. When it comes to staying safe when scaling large trees, the usefulness of all the safety equipment rides on the shoulders of one small, but very important thing: the carabiner.

Carabiners serve as the connecting point between the harness that is wrapped around the worker and the rope system that is holding him up. The integrity of the carabiner being used directly impacts the safety of the user because if it fails, the worker will fall.

To ensure their safety, tree climbers should always follow these tips before ascending a tree:

  • Check the carabiner locking action before climbing
  • Check the gate has closed fully after each opening
  • Follow manufacturers’ instructions for use and maintenance
  • Avoid circumstances where rope, strops, tree, etc., may exert force on the gate mechanism
  • Remove carabiners from service if they fail to close properly every time
  • Make sure carabiners are thoroughly examined every six months

Tips by: www.HSE.gov

Carabiners serve the greatest role in fall protection for tree services professionals and proper use of them is an efficient way to keep a tree worker safe. By following these guidelines, tree climbers can effectively mitigate the risks they face by being at elevated heights.

For more information, visit LandProTreePro.

Greenhouse Growing Businesses: Preparing For Severe Weather

Severe WeatherSummer is right around the corner, and all growers know that with summer season comes inclement weather. With weather patterns in the last couple of years throwing us curveball after curveball, it’s never too early to prepare for multiple types of severe weather like lighting, tornadoes, hail, and thunderstorms.

Disaster can strike at any time, severe storms have already begun to hit the midwest, and NOAA is predicting an active hurricane season for the east coast; so precautions must be taken.

Following these key tips to prepare for inclement weather can help mitigate the risk associated with the greenhouse structure and business:

Make Preparations
To reduce the impact of a possible loss, it is of utmost importance to have an emergency procedure in place for the protection and safety of all employees and business property. Emergency instructions, safety guidelines and a chain of command must be clear and understood. Procedures such as tornado drills should be reviewed and practiced quarterly to allow for adaptations due to changes in the business operations and staff.

Tornadoes and Heavy Rains
Greenhouse structures can be designed to withstand winds up to 100 miles an hour with minimal to moderate damage. It is recommended that growers located in active tornado areas consult with a structural engineer before investing in replacement or new structures. Local building codes may satisfy the authorities, but they won’t protect your business from catastrophic damage. Thunderstorms that bring gusty winds can cause a great deal of immediate damage. However, it is the torrential rain that often accompanies these storms that can be more damaging than the wind itself. Flash floods happen in all 50 states. Just an inch of water in your business can cause thousands of dollars of damage.

Polyethylene film roofs impacted by hail may not be able to maintain the necessary inflation pressure between double layers. Keep poly tape on hand to temporarily patch any holes that are discovered. While broken glass remains in the roof structure, there is a substantial risk of personal injury due to falling glass. Timely action on removing the glass and making repairs is critical.

Point-of-use surge protection devices help protect computer systems from the tremendous voltage lightning strikes can deliver. Easily available at minimal cost, these devices offer a critical line of defense for the safekeeping of a business’ electronic records.


Being ready for severe weather before it arrives and knowing how to quickly react to any damage that may happen is one of the most effective tools in mitigating risk in any business. This is especially true for greenhouse growing businesses due to having large structures largely covered in glass; seeing as how even industrial glass can be fragile when pitted against severe weather.

For more information on greenhouse grower insurance and risk management, visit GrowPro.

TMPAA Announces 2013 "Program Marketing Campaign" Award Winners

Three Member Agencies Score Highest in Competition Co-Sponsored by the IMCA

Wilmington, DE — The Target Markets Program Administrators Association (TMPAA) announced at their Mid Year Meeting in Baltimore that 20 entries were received for the third annual marketing campaign competition. TMPAA’s co-sponsor, the Insurance Marketing & Communications Association (IMCA) has sponsored its own marketing and communications “Showcase Awards” for 55 years. IMCA provided a panel of independent judges that reviewed all TMPAA member entries for both creative design and marketplace impact.

The winning member agencies were Venture Insurance Programs from West Chester, PA, K&B Underwriters from Reston, VA and MiniCo Insurance Agency from Phoenix, AZ. Venture’s entry was for its “Suite Life” campaign in support of its hospitality program. K&B Underwriters’ entry featured its multi-media campaign in support of its “DigniCARE” senior living facilities program. And MiniCo’s entry was the launch of its new “Family of Products” campaign featuring a branded icon supporting four of its specialty insurance programs. All three Award of Excellence winners supported their entries with impressive marketplace metrics that achieved desired upfront marketing objectives.

David Springer, TMPAA President, presented the winning award plaques at the recent Mid Year Meeting. The semi-annual association meeting attracted 600 agency, carrier and vendor members. Springer commented, “The TMPAA was thrilled to continue the creative competition in partnership with IMCA. We hope to have even more entries in 2014.”

Additionally, Springer announced that two other member agencies were named runners up in this year’s competition – GMI Insurance from Valley Forge, PA and Willis Programs of Portsmouth, NH.

The Association’s recent Mid Year Meeting was held in Baltimore, MD, May 6-9. Complete details of this event are now on the TMPAA website. The 13th Annual TMPAA Summit is scheduled for October 21-23 in Scottsdale, AZ.

Program Administrators / MGA’s interested in learning more about the TMPAA and the Program Marketing Awards can visit the Association website at www.targetmarkets.com, or contact Ray Scotto, Executive Director, at (877) 347-5700 or ray.scotto@targetmkts.com.