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Good News on the issue of Liability Insurance

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by johntwist, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    The insurance issue has been a heavy topic of discussion lately and everyone seems to agree you should have it, myself included. Then it breaks down to what kind and how much, which varies depending on where you live, and so many other factors there's too many to list.

    My situation is that this is a part-time thing for me, but because I'm frequently laid off in the winter it would become full time then. I'm starting off small, one contract to do 4 driveways. I'm trying to hook up a deal as a sub for a guy too. Then whatever else I get from advertising and flag-downs. I had to switch carriers to get a commercial policy for my truck that gives me up to 1 million in coverage for property damage only, no liability. For me, liability would be a separate policy, cost $1,700.00 for the season, and I don't have the money for it. I also didn't think I should have to buy it, as I'm not being asked or paid to shovel, sand or salt. So, right there this will not apply to alot of you. But, I was still concerned about being sued, so I spoke to my lawyer.

    He said that if I put a disclaimer on my contract with specific language in it that it would put the onus on the homeowner and not me. Of course, someone can still sue me, but the chances of me being found liable in any way are about nil with a properly executed and signed disclaimer. This is also something that can be written on a receipt for service, which can be given to be signed by non-regular customers. This is the basic language of it:

    (Fill in customers name), hereinafter called the HOMEOWNER, agrees to indemnify and hold harmless (fill in your name or business), hereinafter called the CONTRACTOR, against any claim or damage arising out of or relating to the use by the HOMEOWNER or his employees, tenants, agents, licensees, or invitees, of any areas of the HOMEOWNERS properties plowed by the CONTRACTOR, and that the CONTRACTOR has no responsibility whatsover for the use of plowed areas.

    Now, of course, this is generic legalese. It has to be modified for each persons particular use and situation and I wouldn't recommend anyone else use it unless you check with your own lawyer first. But, for me and any of you who won't be getting out of the truck to shovel, sand or salt, it covers your butt pretty good without the cost of the liability insurance. My lawyer said the fact that I have insurance for property damage, and that I made the effort to get a written and signed disclaimer, would weigh heavily in my favor in the event of a lawsuit.

    I know this won't fit the bill for everybody. I know somebody may even flame me for this, but I hope not because I'm just sharing information. What you choose to do with it is up to all of you. :nod:
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2004
  2. Bad Luck

    Bad Luck Senior Member
    Messages: 741

    John - I assume you also had to switch your truck Reg to commercial plates? Are there any restrictions in your policy that would limit your personal use of the truck after you have a commercial reg?

    Aslo was there a big difference between your commercial policy's premium and your personal?

  3. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    That's the good part. I was paying about $1,280/yr before just for regular insurance, and I get the lowest possible rate for my good driving record. I did have to switch to commercial plates. The new policy is about $1,340/yr with 1 million prop damage, 5 thousand med payments, 100/300,000.00 bodily injury and it even covers damage to the plow itself, but only while it's attached to the truck. No restrictions at all on use off season or for any other use. So it really only cost me an extra $40/yr plus the cost of new plates and re-reg, which I think will end up being around $150.00. All in all, not too bad I thought.
  4. DeereGuy

    DeereGuy Senior Member
    Messages: 346

    I live in NH and because of my vehicles gross wt. (2500HD)I am required to have Comm. insurance and it no longer gets bunched together with my wife's vehicle so I lose money there. I also have a separate 6 mth policy for plowing snow $500k worth. Driveways and parking lots are OK but the policy does not cover street plowing. Not even private developments because of the traffic I guess. The big thing is the completion portion of the plowing policy I'm told. This is what you don't get with regular insurance.

    I'm not an expert and don't even understand my own policies fully but am curious why I was asked to disclose certain things. One of which was to see if I had any hold-harmless agreements. I assume that it would have been a problem if I did. Do you understand what this is about? I assumed that I couldn't use that language in my contracts for some reason, or it would void my insurance. Any ideas?
  5. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    Sorry, no idea at all about what you mention.
    My insurance company only wanted to know how much my truck and plow went for new. Since they are only covering property damage, they didn't ask anything else. Since I both can't afford and don't feel I need the extra liability, I spoke to my lawyer and he recommended the disclaimer. That's really all I know on it.
  6. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    It has to do with risk they are taking. I ran into this when I started going after commercial accounts. With residential, they weren't so concerned with contracts because the residentials are less likely to sue you. With commercial, there is more likelihood of being sued, leading to loss for the insurance company. This is where the "hold-harmless" clause comes in. In your contract, there should be a clause where they agree to hold you harmless. In other words, if they get sued their insurance will settle the claim. You may still get sued and the claimant's lawyer will most likely name you in the suit, but the company you are plowing for will not try to shift all the blame to you. (I know; complicated). But, the end result is that the company you plowed for will at least share the blame, leading to a lower payout for your insurance company.

    Actually, it's a more of a problem if you don't have a good hold-harmless clause.

    My insurance company wants a copy of my contract when my total number of commercial accounts exceed the number of residential accounts. At that time, the rate also goes up.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2004