Specialized Business Insurance & Risk Management Blog

Retail Garden Center Slip and Fall Risk

Slip and FallA Lowe’s customer claims he incurred medical costs after tripping over a garden hose and falling on water in the store’s garden center.

The plaintiff claims he shopped at the Glen Carbon Lowe’s located at 159 Whistle Stop Dr. on April 10, 2006, and walked through the garden and yard care center when he fell after tripping over a garden hose running across the walkway and fell in a puddle of water.

The plaintiff blames the defendants for the fall, claiming they [the defendants] performed a number of negligent acts, including their failure to maintain the walkway, failure to remove the garden hose and the accumulation of water on the floor, failure to warn of the garden hose, failure to barricade access to the walkway while an employee used the garden hose, allowance of the garden hose and water to remain on the floor of the store for an unreasonable length of time and failure to provide a safe place for the plaintiff to walk.


This story is an example of the most classic of claims: the Slip and Fall.

Retail Garden Centers have a lot of exposure in the realm of slip and falls. There are many risks that are inherent to the store because of the trees and plants that need to be maintained. In the example above, during watering procedures of the plants, a man tripped on the hose and fell into a puddle of water.

However, it does not end with just hoses being on the ground. There are many other tools/items needed to maintain plants like clippers, trimmers, sprinklers, fertilizer, potting soils, and handheld shovels and rakes. Any of these tools or bags, if left on a store walkway, represents a slip and fall risk of any customers walking by who don’t see them on the ground.

In order to prevent incidents like the story above from happening it is important to employ risk mitigating practices when tending to plants which include:

  • Keep walkways cleared when watering and maintenance are not being performed
  • During watering and maintenance:
    • Put up warning signs to block of an area an employee is working in
    • If there are hoses running across the whole aisle, close off the aisle until the work is completed (have an extra employee on hand to gather an item a customer might need in the aisle)
    • Clean up excessive water on the ground before re-opening the aisle
    • Clean up all tools before taking down warning signs

Utilizing these risk mitigation processes will help to prevent slip and fall claims from occurring in a retail garden center. Should an accident happen however, it is important to have a program in place that is designed with the unique needs of growing professionals in mind.

For more info, visit GrowPro.

Breakdown of the Horticulture Industry

Horticulture IndustryWe published a post back in August that focused on the Segments of the Horticulture Industry. In this iteration of the breakdown of the horticulture industry, we’d like to take the focus a bit further and give a more in depth look of what kinds of activities theses segments are involved in.

There are four segments of the horticulture industry: Nurseries, Greenhouses, Independent Garden Centers, and Hybrids of the previous three. Though most may view growers as one big industry, there are fundamental differences in the activities each of the different businesses.

Wholesale Greenhouse Growers
Wholesale greenhouse growers grow ornamental flowers, plants, shrubs and certain kinds of trees, in controlled environments. Typically, a grower will have property values that are much higher than those of a nursery grower. They also have specialized structures and other equipment, including the greenhouse itself, as well as other necessary equipment, such as water, boilers, lighting, temperature control, alarms, and security.

Larger growers also supply plants to big box stores or other venues, on a consignment basis. Of course, this creates significant exposure for their stock at these non-covered locations, as well as potential loss of income, due to interruptions in business at the non-covered location.

Wholesale Nursery Growers
Wholesale Nursery Growers generally grow plants and trees in open fields instead of under a greenhouse structure. Most of these operations are located on the west coast and southern US, where the climate tends to stay warmer year-round.

Retail Garden Centers
Retail Garden Centers are the major customer of the Greenhouse Grower and the Wholesale Nursery Grower. They typically sell related products, including seed, fertilizer, and small garden tools, in addition to flowers, plants and trees and often have greenhouse structures to house the plants that are out for sale. Also, they may have a Landscaping division, which creates a unique and different exposure, from that of the typical greenhouse or nursery operation.

Hybrid Operations
Hybrid operations are a business that are an overlap of any of the three, and in turn, have much higher exposures due to the multiple operations.

Understanding the activities of each of the segments of the horticulture industry assists greatly in being able to write coverage that will best keep the business safe. Building an insurance program from the ground up with the specific needs of not only the industry as a whole, but the segments that make it up, is how to best avoid gaps in coverage that leave an insured vulnerable.

For more information, visit GrowPro.

The Segments of the Horticulture Industry

HorticultureThe horticulture industry has varying segments, each of which has their own unique risks. Breaking down and identifying the industry makes the process of coverage and writing insurance policies a lot more efficient and effective.

The team at GrowPro, an insurance program designed for the green industry and their specific needs, has identified the unique segments of the industry in order to ease the process of writing effective coverage.

The industry breaks out into four segments, which include:

These are places where plants are propagated and grown to a usable size. They’re usually independent commercial operations, with or without greenhouses; and they typically have a mix of retail and wholesale customers.

These focus on large-scale production of floricultural products. They are typically wholesale operations, and have unique exposures, including the actual greenhouse and related equipment. They are often not adequately addressed through standard agricultural insurance programs.

Independent Garden Centers
Independent Garden Centers can be anything from a small, “mom and pop” operation to larger regional centers. Their primary focus is Retail.

Hybrids are operations that overlap, combining characteristics of more than one type of operation. These represent a unique risk, as multiple activities mean more exposure. The best example of a hybrid would be a nursery that also offers landscaping services.

These four segments represent the breakdown of the horticulture industry. They each have unique risks so it is important not to just throw a blanket small business insurance policy over them as coverage gaps are very likely to happen. Programs for the horticulture industry need to be designed around the unique risks that each segment runs into during daily operations.

For more information, visit GrowPro.