Snowplowing can be a lucrative business, especially in the New England area. However, the chances of injuring someone or damaging something unseen are high. For snowplow operators, ‘Bodily injury to others’ is the coverage on your auto policy that would apply. For ‘snowplowees’, you might want to check out the insurance policies of potential contractors before they get to work.
Operators: don’t wait until it's too late to review this coverage with your agent. Make sure you have adequate limits. Here are three more considerations and hazards for all you snowplow users to think about.
- You are plowing a driveway or parking lot and damage a parked car or building with your snowplow or the truck that it’s attached to. ‘Property damage to others’ is the clause in your policy that applies. But what if you collide with something that damages your snow plow?
- How much is the ‘Collision’ coverage on your policy? Sufficient to cover your damaged snow plow? Some companies require you to schedule the snow plow on your policy so you should check things out with your agent.
- Do you need a ‘General Liability’ policy? It depends on what you contract to do.
Don’t wait for the first flakes to fall before discussing both adequate ‘property damage to others’ limits and ‘collision’ coverage with your agent. Then factor these costs into your pricing for snow-moving jobs.
What if your services include more specific snow clearing areas, such as snow removal (and disposal) from walkways, sidewalks, steps and sometimes even the snow on the roof? Be sure that you are on top of your contractual obligations. For example, when 2 inches of snow builds up, you may be required to plow parking lots without a call from your customer.
Other contracts may call on you to sand and salt the parking lots, steps and walkways. In these situations you bear some responsibility if someone were to slip and fall. They could blame their injury on your improper snow removal, sanding/salting, or failure to plow during an agreed upon accumulation. In such cases you require insurance under a ‘General Liability’ policy. This would also cover the risks of you damaging someone else’s property in the course of your business.