Snow Removal Insurance | Info for Snow & Ice Contractors
October 21, 2019
Snow removal insurance didn’t used to be so complicated. In recent years, however, securing coverage for snow and ice management operations has gotten harder… and more expensive. Here’s a quick look at what you need to know if you’re planning to plow, salt, or sand any Massachusetts roadways this winter. And, by the way, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, 2020 is expected to be a wild winter, full of “sludgy messes that freeze during the overnights.”
Where to Buy Snow Removal Insurance
Sadly, there’s a limited appetite for this type of coverage right now. In other words, only a few select carriers are willing to offer snow liability protection. Even those carriers are very selective about the clients they choose to insure. Some are opposed to working with contractors who plow for high-risk properties, like medical facilities or big-box stores. Your track record in the field, as well as the type of plowing your do (where and how often), can make it more or less difficult to insure your team.
But rest assured: it’s not impossible!
If you’re struggling to find snow plow insurance at a decent rate, contact an agency that has access to a wide variety of insurance carriers (which we do, by the way). This will ensure you’re getting competitive pricing, even in a limited market. You can reach our team at 508.339.2951.
The High Cost of Snow Removal Insurance
There’s no way around it. Snow removal insurance is still very expensive. Minimum premiums are currently hovering around $5K – $25K, depending on where you’re plowing and what your claims history looks like. Even on the lower end of this scale, rates can be prohibitive for many of the area’s small snow plowing operations.
Together with the Massachusetts Association of Landscape Professionals, our insurance experts are working to reform Massachusetts snow plow laws (and effectively lower the rates for snow plow contractors). Meanwhile, the best you can do is follow best practices in your operational procedures, contract language, and risk management planning. The better your loss history, the better your rates.
Best Practices for Snow and Ice Management
When it comes to snow and ice management, you could write a book on best practices. (The folks at SIMA wrote an entire library, in fact.) We won’t try to sum up all that knowledge here. Suffice it to say, proper snow business planning requires time and resources. Many contractors are now working to earn their ASCA certification. Insurance carriers recognize the Accredited Snow Contractors Association “seal of approval” as a sign that you’re committed to reducing risk and upholding the highest of standards.
Even if you’re not ASCA accredited, you should be able to answer questions like:
- Do you have written contracts in place with all customers?
- Do these contracts specify/include: a precise scope of work, schematics defining the area to be plowed, definitions for timing of service, a catalog of any preexisting property damage, new property damage reporting requirements, appropriate hold harmless provisions (reviewed by legal counsel)?
- Are all your drivers maintaining daily, written logs?
- Are you requiring proof of insurance (with minimum limits) from all subs?
- Do you have a contractual risk transfer program in place for any subs?
Snow Removal Insurance Experts
If you don’t have the bandwidth to take online courses, revamp your operational guides/employee training, or redraft all the wording of your contracts, look for an agent who is willing to lend a hand. This search might prove trickier than you’d think…
Sure, most insurance agents are happy to send you a quote. But fewer will actually help to review your service agreements and your clients’ nuanced contract clauses. (Contract language is super important when you’re working with savvy facilities management companies and/or mega retailers.) Fewer agents still are available to provide scope-of-work templates and other primers that will teach your team how to take photos, maintain logs, and document everything you need to protect yourself in the event of a liability claim.
Luckily, we know a great insurance crew that can handle all of the above. At C&S, we’re not only experts in snow liability and commercial auto insurance, we’re also happy to make all those annoying RMV runs for you—so you can spend time focusing on your business.