Winter in New England means snow—and snow and ice removal. But beware! If you are a commercial property owner or snow removal contractor, your coverage may not be sufficient to cover your liability. In fact, some general business liability policies now exclude snow removal, so you may need a separate policy.
For Commercial Property Owners
In Massachusetts, laws affecting your liability in cases of accidents involving snow and ice have changed in recent years. In addition, many towns and cities have their own ordinances regarding snow and ice removal.
As a commercial property owner, you need to know the law and make sure that you are adequately covered for personal injuries or property damages that may arise.
Before an accident occurs, there are many important issues you need to consider, especially when deciding if you will handle snow and ice removal yourself or enter into a contract with a snow removal professional.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What removal measures are needed before, during, and after a storm? (It is your responsibility to make sure the proper steps are taken promptly, especially in heavily-trafficked areas!)
- Medical bills add up quickly; how much liability coverage could you potentially need for personal injuries that may arise?
- If you use a snow removal contractor, have you reviewed the contract to be sure you haven’t assumed the contractor’s liability via a “Hold Harmless” agreement?
- Did you know that if someone’s business vehicle or equipment sustains damage in your lot, you could be liable for any income they may lose as a result?
- If you rent out all or part of your commercial property, can you hold your tenants responsible for snow and ice removal?
If you hire a snow removal contractor (recommended for most commercial property owners):
- Get reliable references.
- Make sure your commercial general liability policy covers injuries if someone slips and falls. It may not, especially if snow removal isn’t your primary operation (a landscaper, for example).
- Ask the contractor for a certificate(s) showing sufficient liability limits.
- Consider what type of contract you need. Make sure it is specific in terms of when (under what conditions) the contractor will come, what they’ll do, etc.
- Log or document your contractor’s activity on your property.
For Snow and Ice Removal Contractors
There are many misconceptions about liability. Before an incident arises, you need to know what kinds of injuries or damages you may be responsible for and the limits of liability set forth in your policy.
Here are a few tips:
- Make sure you have the right contract in place!
- Be sure that you and your crew follow best plow practices at all times.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your clients.
- Make sure you have substantial coverage for personal injuries, property damage, worker’s compensation, and other types of potential claims.
- Bundle your policies whenever possible to avoid coverage gaps and save money.
- Review your liability coverage at least once a year.
Clearly, issues surrounding snow and ice removal are complex. Be assured that Paul & Dixon is here to help.
Contact your Paul & Dixon Insurance agent today for a free review of your policies!