California Commercial Applicator Insurance

For the Commercial Applicator, unlike any other profession, the Calif. Dept. of Pesticide Regulation not only mandates insurance limits in order to obtain & maintain the applicator’s license, they also define the coverage required. The three points of coverage are:

1. Covers crop or landscape or property damage as a result of a drift from the area of treatment.

2. Covers crop or landscape or property damage that may result from the handling of a pesticide or equipment failure during the pesticide application.

3. Covers bodily injury to persons not involved with the pesticide application when the pesticide is directly or indirectly applied on them and results in an illness, or injury.

Drift, Equipment failure and Bodily Injury are self explanatory. Where the coverage challenge exists is in the definition of “Handling”. “The term “Handle” is defined by the State of California Dept of Pesticide Regulation as: mixing, loading, transferring, applying (including chemigation), or assisting with the application of pesticides, maintaining, servicing, repairing, cleaning, handling equipment used in these activities that may contain residues, working with opened (including emptied but not rinsed) containers of pesticides, adjusting, repairing, or removing treatment site coverings, incorporating (mechanical or watered-in) pesticides into the soil, entering a treated area during any application or before the inhalation exposure level listed on pesticide product labeling has been reached or greenhouse ventilation criteria have been met.”

This wording requires the applicator to be responsible for damages to the surrounding area and to the crop the applicator is working with. Between the pollution exclusion and the “care custody & control” exclusion, the standard general liability policy excludes the required coverage.

In order to obtain the correct coverage, the applicator must purchase a policy specifically designed to cover the exposures outlined by Calif. DPR.  This type of policy is a specialty and not provided by most insurance carriers.

If you have questions about the required coverage or related issues – please contact me at: Direct Line (559) 634-7113 or email:

Jeanette Heinrichs, CPIW, Vice President, Van Beurden Ins. Services, Inc.

Jeanette Heinrichs

Vice President | Kingsburg