If you live in one of the colder areas in the country (we’re looking at you New England, and you too Midwest), you’re undoubtedly used to harsh winters (that are seemingly never ending). Ask any resident of these regions about snow plowing, and they’ll tell you that snow plow services are invaluable to their daily lives during winter months (and sometimes even extending into spring).
Maybe you have your own plow and are looking to start a plowing business on the side. Or, maybe you’re an established plowing contractor but don’t quite understand the liability that you face on a daily basis. Either way, this blog gives a rundown of typical snow plowing insurance liabilities, as well as coverage types/options.
I already own a plow, isn’t that covered under my auto policy?
The answer to this all too common question depends entirely on the type of auto insurance policy that you have, and exactly what you’re using your snow plow for (i.e. personal use or business use).
If you’re only using your plow to work on your own driveway, your personal policy will probably extend to your plow. However, this varies from provider to provider and honestly depends on what coverage type(s) you have listed on your policy. It’s always recommended to get in touch with an insurance agent when dealing with these types of issues. Using a plow for personal use is generally much less complicated than using one for commercial use.
Plowing as a Business
It doesn’t matter if you’re just a part-time plow workers or you do it as your full-time job, you’re going to need a few different insurance policies to have all of your bases completely covered. Not only will you need a commercial auto policy (which may or may not include plowing coverage), but you’ll also some form of liability policy (in addition to a plowing policy if that’s not already covered under your commercial vehicle policy).
Snow Plowing Liabilities for Small Business Owners
If you want to start a plowing business (or you already own one), you’re probably aware that you need to open insurance policies to protect your business. Snow plowing insurance typically covers any associated liabilities involved with that line of work (property damage, personal injury, etc.).
Many states that are located in regions that receive large amounts of snow per year (such as New England or the Midwest), have enacted numerous laws that cover snow plowing liability. For example, in the State of Massachusetts, it’s essentially illegal to operate a snow plow (commercially) without some form of plowing insurance (with the proper coverage types).
Obviously you need insurance that will protect your business during the operation of running a snow plow. But, what about after you’re done plowing? Does any liability from property damage or personal injury fall on the shoulders of the plow owner after they’ve completed plowing? This is where plowing liability becomes a tricky issue. Keep the following liabilities in mind both during/after you’ve plowed commercially:
- Condition of the roads pre/post-plowing
- Whether or not there is any snow/ice on the roads after you’re finished
- What if someone gets injured due to a mistake in your plowing?
- Does your commercial auto policy cover these kinds of liabilities?
It’s important to have these types of questions in mind before your start a plowing business (or even if you already own one). Does your policy cover this type of liability? Will you need to purchase an additional general liability policy? If you’re interested in learning more about general liability policies then talk to an insurance expert in your area.
Snow Plow Insurance & Contracting Tips
If you’re ready to start plowing commercially, but are unsure of how to start getting work, consider the following tips:
- Know exactly what your competitors are charging in your target area.
- Understand that potential clients will be fielding offers from other contractors.
- Include some references in your potential contracts.
- Look at properties in-person prior to plowing, and take photographs to use as references during/after plowing.
- Remember to get any contracts/agreements in writing, and file them appropriately.
- Pick a quality snow plowing insurance company to open a policy with.
- Make sure the insurance policy you choose has the proper coverage amounts for the area where you plan to operate your business.
- Make the safety of your employees and clients the top priority in your business’s operation (especially during adverse weather conditions).
- Ensure that all of your snow plow equipment is regularly maintained and in good working order (before using it commercially).