I’m about to launch a new pest control business in California. Is any special liability insurance required for exterminators and pest control businesses? Or is Workers’ Compensation enough?

Businesses in the pest control industry use pesticides that pose potential risks to human health and to the environment. If a chemical can kill insects or rodents, you’d better believe it can do some serious damage if mishandled or used inappropriately. No matter what the setting—homes or office buildings, warehouses, farms, golf courses, food storage or packing facilities, or along public roads and highways—the risks are real. Accidents happen.

So, yes, California does require exterminators, fumigators—in short, all businesses in the pest control
industry, to carry special liability insurance in addition to Workers’ Compensation. Specifically, your pest control business needs liability coverage for chemical bodily injury and chemical property damage that occurs during your application, storage, and transportation of potentially dangerous pesticides.

Is there more than one kind of liability insurance for pest control businesses in California?

Different insurance carriers refer to such specialized liability insurance by different names, and may bundle different coverages under one umbrella pest control liability policy. Some of the terms you may hear include: pollution liability coverage, exterminators’ liability coverage, fumigators ‘ liability coverage, errors and omissions insurance, pest inspection damage liability insurance, to name a few. When you talk to your insurance provider, describe your business in detail and don’t worry about what to call the insurance you need. Let the insurance professionals who know California’s insurance laws figure that out.

How much pest control liability coverage does California require me to have?

It depends. Agricultural pest control businesses in the “maintenance gardener” category are required to carry as little as $5,000 per person per occurrence, but the required coverage amount for companies that spray pesticides from aircraft or apply pesticides by ground rig or do fumigation is as high as $300,000 per occurrence. Again, look to your California insurance provider for guidance.

How do I prove to the state that I have the necessary liability insurance for my pest control business?

California requires proof of liability insurance as part of the licensing process for pest control businesses. To obtain your pest control business license you will need to submit an application, supported by several other documents, including proof that your business meets the Financial Responsibility Requirement.

There are several ways to prove that you have obtained the necessary pest control liability insurance to meet this requirement. Visit the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s website at www.cdpr.ca.gov to learn more about the Financial Responsibility Requirement and the different documents you can submit as proof of liability insurance for your pest control business.