Workers’ compensation insurance in Florida and approximately 40 other states uses a rating code system designed by the National Council for Compensation Insurance (NCCI) to rate insurance premiums differently for groups of employees. There are approximately 600 class codes, and the two main codes used for those employed in the landscaping industry are 0042 and 9102.

I often come across lawn maintenance companies that have their employees misclassified and not only can they receive a 50% reduction in their current insurance premiums, but they can also seek reimbursement for overpayments on previous workers’ compensation policies.

These experiences and many other questions about how these classification codes can be used together in a policy have brought to my attention the need to communicate specific information to the landscaping industry about the uses of workers’ compensation codes 0042 and 9102.

First, let’s start with a brief description of each classification code with quotes from the official NCCI descriptions:

Class code 0042 – Applies to employees primarily engaged in planning, cleaning, grading, turf laying, seeding, and planting necessary for landscape installation operations. The planting of trees, shrubs and flowers is classified under this code along with general gardening activities.

Class code 9102 – Applies to employees who perform maintenance on lawns, grounds, and gardens. “Maintenance may involve mowing, raking, applying liquid or granular fertilizers, spraying and trimming shrubs or small trees from the ground, and thatching or aerating. If any or all of the above operations are performed by a lawn maintenance hazard Classified under Code 9102, minor and incidental landscaping operations performed for the same hazard, such as replacing dead bushes, planting some flowers, and laying rocks or bricks as edging designs, fall under Code 9102. This minor landscaping operation is distinguished from work performed by an insured at a job or location where the primary work at the job or location is landscaping Since lawn spraying is a maintenance operation, a risk involved exclusively in jobs of this nature is classified under Code 9102.”

In Florida, the 2010 rates for these class codes are 6.36 for code 0042 and 3.49 for code 9102. In the other states, class code 0042 also ranks significantly higher than class code class 9102. For businesses in the landscaping industry, this emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between the two classification codes.

In many states, employees engaged in both landscape installation and landscape maintenance activities can split their corresponding payroll between class codes if proper records are kept. Check with your insurance agent for the specific classification rules in your local state. According to the state exception wording under class code 9102, Florida landscape businesses may use class codes 0042 and 9102 in their workers’ compensation policy only if those “operations described by these classifications are performed by crews separated”.

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