What Insurance Does a Painter Need?
If you’re working as a self-employed painter or considering starting your own painting business, having insurance is crucial. Even the most experienced and talented painters can have accidents on the job. Damage to a customer’s property can easily bankrupt your business.
Insurance protects against financial risk, giving you peace of mind that you can continue running your business. But what type of insurance does a painter need? Let’s take a closer look.
Painting Business Insurance Requirements
Many painters wonder whether they need painting contractors’ insurance coverage, and the answer is: absolutely, yes.
A lot can go wrong on the job.
- Slips and falls can cause injuries
- Paint spills can damage customer property
- Accidents can lead to broken windows or other damaged property
Without insurance, a single incident can put you out of business.
Depending on your location, you may be required to have insurance. Every state has its own requirements for painting contractors. Many states will require you to obtain insurance in order to obtain your painter’s license.
Even if your state doesn’t require it, your clients will. And if you work with general contractors, they will surely require insurance.
As a general rule of thumb, professional painters should carry at least $1 million in liability coverage.
As a self-employed painter, there are several types of insurance that you should have to protect against financial risk.
While you may have your own unique risks that you need to consider, some of the most important coverages include:
Liability Insurance for Painters
Liability is one of the most important coverages to have if you run a painting business – or any business for that matter. There are two main types of liability that self-employed painters should have:
General liability insurance will provide protection against third-party:
- Property damage (e.g. you accidentally break a light fixture while painting a ceiling)
- Personal injury claims (e.g. a customer slips and falls on spilled paint and is injured as a result)
General liability is the bare minimum insurance painting contractors should have, and it will likely be required by your customers and any general contractors you work with.
Along with the base coverage, there are additional coverages you can add to your general liability policy, such as:
- Products and completed operations. A customer may file a property damage or personal injury claim after you complete the job.
- Advertising injury. If someone brings claims of copyright infringement, libel and slander against you, this policy will provide coverage.
Both of these policies are worth considering, especially if your business is growing.
Professional Liability (Errors & Omissions)
Mistakes and accidents happen, even when you have been in the business for decades. There’s also a risk that clients can sue you for negligence or mistakes. These cases are not covered by the scope of general liability.
Professional liability insurance will cover:
- Workplace mistakes
- Violation of good faith
- Errors and omissions
Let’s say that you misunderstand the client’s instructions and paint a room the wrong color. The room needs to be repainted, which would cost the client more money. The client files a claim against you as a result. Professional liability would cover the costs of the claim.
Business Owners’ Policy
A Business Owners’ Policy, or BOP, is a policy that many painting contractors obtain. It extends general liability insurance to cover personal property and commercial buildings.
If you have a physical office that you operate out of, then a BOP may be worthwhile.
Keep in mind that a BOP may not cover professional liability.
If you are the sole employee of your business, then you may not need workers’ compensation. However, if you have any employees, you will likely need workers’ comp insurance.
Virtually every state requires this insurance coverage by law. Even if you operate out of a state that doesn’t require it, you should have this coverage anyway. Otherwise, employees could sue you if they are hurt on the job.
Workers’ compensation will cover lost income and medical expenses if an employee is hurt on the job. Policies may also cover:
- Retraining if the employee is unable to return to their role
- Permanent injury
- Survivor benefits if an employee dies due to a work-related accident
If you have a dedicated vehicle that you use to get from one job to the next, you should have commercial auto coverage.
Your personal auto insurance likely does not cover claims if you were using the vehicle for commercial purposes.
Commercial auto coverage will cover:
- Repairs if the vehicle is damaged in a covered peril
- Rental reimbursement
- Medical expenses if you are hurt in an accident
- Underinsured motorists
- Towing and labor
- Property damage
A BOP policy will cover commercial property, but you may decide that it’s best to purchase a policy separately.
A commercial property policy can help protect your:
- Owned buildings
If you own the building that you operate out of and you store your equipment and tools here, commercial property insurance will be a worthwhile investment.
A commercial property insurance policy can help cover the cost of:
- Lost income due to a covered incident
- Damaged inventory or equipment
- Operating expenses
Tools and Equipment Coverage
If you own a painting business, you know that your tools and equipment are the lifeblood of your business.
If your tools and equipment were to be stolen or damaged, you would be out of business until you could purchase new gear.
A tools and equipment insurance policy will protect your equipment and tools wherever they are stored, whether it’s at the job site, in your vehicle or in the shop.
You can typically add this coverage as an add-on to a general liability insurance policy. While every insurer has different options, this policy will typically cover:
- Equipment you own
- Employee clothing and tools
- Equipment that you borrow
How Much Does Painters Insurance Cost?
There are many factors that affect the cost of painters insurance, including:
- Your location
- How many employees you have
You may need a specific policy that other painting businesses may not need. There are many variables when purchasing insurance, so it can be difficult to estimate costs.
However, to give you a ballpark estimate of your insurance costs, here’s what many businesses pay for the most important coverages:
- General liability: $600 per year, or about $50 per month
- Commercial auto: $1,600 per year, or about $135 per month
- Workers’ compensation: $3,300 per year, or about $270 per month
- Tools and equipment: $170 per year, or about $15 per month
Of course, these are just general estimates. Your actual business may pay more or less, depending on the insurer, your location and other factors.
The Bottom Line
If you run a painting business with employees or work as a self-employed painter, you will need insurance. Accidents can and will happen at some point. Insurance will provide the financial protection you need to keep your business operating even when the worst happens.
These are some of the most important coverages to have, but it’s important to consult with an experienced insurance agent to ensure that all of your risks are covered. Your business may have unique risks that add-on policies can cover.