As we watch the colorful leaves fall to the ground, and the daylight hours become shorter, we know that snow is soon to follow; and as a Northern California insurance agency, so are questions pertaining to insurance for snow plow operations.
Due to the seasonal nature of our beautiful area, its common to have individuals who plow snow in the winter and perform landscaping or carpentry/construction duties during the remaining seasons. Be advised that just because you have a general liability policy covering a construction, contracting or landscaping business, does not mean you have automatic coverage for snow plowing operations.
In order to help decide general liability insurance coverage is needed for a snow plowing exposure, we walk clients through a process of uncovering exactly what they are doing, where, how and for whom. If you were contacting us, we would ask the following:
- Are you just plowing for family and neighbors and not bartering or charging a fee of any kind?
- Where and for whom are you plowing? We want to know the types of property: residential driveways, business parking lots, commercial businesses or any streets, roads or even highways.
- Are you charging for these services, who is the check written to? (an individual, or a business).
- Do you offer additional services, such as cleaning off roofs or business sidewalks?
- How are the snow plowing vehicles titled?
- Do you have employees performing this service and who owns the vehicles they will be using?
By gathering this information, we can educate you on what possible exposures you have when choosing ‘not’ to purchase insurance for these exposures: (Spoiler alert: Majority of individuals plowing without separate insurance end up paying out of pocket for all damage and injury they do!
What kind of damage or injuries you ask? – I was just getting to that:
Vehicle: Your personal auto policy was never intended to cover business exposures. Some will allow you to place a ‘business use’ class for very incidental exposures (I plow my mom’s and one neighbor’s driveway only); but not all companies will allow this.
Plow Value: A personal auto policy always must be endorsed to cover any ‘aftermarket’ equipment you add to it including a snowplow. (Keep in mind that vehicles and attached equipment are paid out on an ‘actual cash value’ basis, so you may want a separate rider on a commercial policy for a newer plow to have replacement cost).
Property Damage: You hit a building, vehicle, or structure while plowing, or severely damage a client’s sprinkler system with the plow. This is not covered by a personal auto policy when you are using the vehicle as a business auto.
Personal Injury: You have a signed contract to keep the walkways clean from snow and ice for a business restaurant, but you get busy and just plow the parking lot and don’t take the time to clean the walkway entrance into the restaurant. One of their patrons slips and falls on the buildup of ice and suffers a broken ankle. You most definitely could be sued since you had a contractual obligation to maintain those walkways.
Ted Hamm Insurance Agency is in business to take care of people and that includes providing important education to assist clients to make the decisions that are best for them, their families and their businesses.
So, although you can answer no, that you don’t have to purchase snowplow insurance protection, we have seen enough uninsured claims to know that it’s best to turn to a knowledgeable insurance agent who can competitively provide you the correct protection for your exposure. We just happen to have several companies that can do just that and as always, we are simply a phone call, email or text away.