When the snow first starts, many of us smile. We remember those big fluffy flakes we’d catch on your tongue as kids. A dusting coats the neighborhood streets; snow lines once empty tree branches or clings to evergreen needles. It’s a wonderland … right up until the next morning that is, when we have to get up an hour early to clear the walk or driveway before work. Then, it’s something we have to deal with. Part of what we have to deal with, whether you know it or not, is insurance.
Insurance for my snow blower? For my snow plow? Really? Like so many questions of insurance, the answer is, "It depends."
It depends on whether your snow blower or plow use is business-related or strictly personal. For personal use-only equipment, insurance is a nonissue. If you use your snow blower just to clear your own driveway, you do not need additional coverage. Even if you wanted to be friendly and clear the neighbor’s sidewalk, that’s no problem. If you happen to ding their mailbox or bump into their house, your homeowners policy will extend to cover that. The same goes with snow plows. If you’re being a good neighbor and plowing out the driveway across the street, your auto policy will cover the damage.
A word of caution here: If you’ve purchased your snow equipment since we first wrote your policies, please check back with us. Your coverage is only as good as your policy limits, and we may want to re-evaluate those.
Now, the situation changes dramatically as soon as money enters the picture. When you accept payment for your snow clearing services, you open yourself to the whole range of liabilities. Insurance is definitely an issue in this case. You’ll need a snow contractor’s liability policy. Even if you’re just doing neighborhood driveways for $30 each and you have your customers sign a liability waiver, insurance is still advisable. Not all waivers are enforceable to bar a person from seeking restitution for perceived damages. Also, whether or not you’re in the right, court costs and lawyer’s fees will accrue.
Play it safe. If snow removal turns into a business, make insurance one of the first things you consider, not an afterthought. If you need to talk insurance for snow equipment or anything else, give us a call. We’re always glad to walk you through any coverage issues and to make sure your policies offer all the protection you need.