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Snow Plowing Insurance and Other Questions...

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by SnowRemoval1, Nov 9, 2014.

  1. SnowRemoval1

    SnowRemoval1 Junior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 16

    Hello All,
    My name is Matt and I've been doing snow removal and lawn care in my general 1 mile radius around my house going on 5 years now. The business started when I was 13 and it has really grew from there. Last year, I hired a guy to do my properties (just the plowing aspect) and he charged a cheap penny. No incidents and everyone was extremely pleased including myself as after all accounting aspects, I still got about 70% with little overhead. This year, we bought a F250 and got some commercial accounts and moved away from small Condo/Apartment complex's (which average about 12 parking spaces and the middle). So, I thought I was screwed so I went out and bought a new 2014 Nissan Frontier SV $29k, bought a SnoDogg snowplow $4k, and gaining clients. I'm getting worried about overheads I didn't have last year such as gas while operating the plow as well as insurance. All of my properties are located within 1 mile of me and I've never had a problem with any of them in the past. Normally, between 2-5" inches of snow I charge around $75.00 a building. I'm getting very worried because not only with gas and the 20k I'm in debt over the next 60 months, the Snow Plowing insurance as well. I was recently dropped from State Farm BEFORE I got my truck. With state farm, they told me I was covered for collision with property or another vehicle while plowing. 2 weeks later I find out I am dropped due to someone on the plan having 2 major accidents in 2 months. I called Allstate and Progressive and they state that IF you are making money from snow plowing, its diagnosed as commercial and therefore I need a commercial business insurance which in IL would carry 25k injury a person, 20k property, and $500 medical. I received a quote from progressive of $6,000 a year which would be about 50% of my earnings for the season IF the business were to not grow the next year. That is way to much and I'm highly concerned about the overhead along with the risk. Yes, the properties are close but they are also small and pose a hit risk in bad conditions. The other issue is I have a cosigner under me so IF i were to hit something/someone, they and there assets are also sueable. Any idea on what I should do. I'm almost dammed if I do and dammed if I don't.
     
  2. CHPL

    CHPL Member
    Messages: 80

    Sounds like you jumped in before gathering all the facts. You need insurance its a sue happy world.
    If you made 70% last year why did you spend on all the equipment?
    Your margin will definately be lower.
    It would be best to consult an attorney to be sure everyone involved is covered, before you spend money on anything else.
     
  3. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,521

    Call American Family in Oak Forest. Sam Rolph 708 687 8770.

    I'm under 700 with a perfect Driving and credit score for 2mil.
     
  4. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,965

    If all.these issues. Why don't you go back to the guy who was doing it before?
     
  5. NBI Lawn

    NBI Lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,797

    Your age is going to screw ya. You kinda screwed the pooch...you need general liability and commercial auto. I am surprised some of the commercial lots you picked up didn't ask for proof of insurance. Doing it right isn't cheap.
     
  6. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    You spent $33k to rig up a Nissan Frontier? You situation is a mess, my friend. You should have set up two used 3/4 tons for way less than that. The insurance would have been cheaper and now you're freaking over the debt.

    I don't know how you get out of this one but Nov. 9th isn't the time to be scrambling to figure this out. This should have all been ready in August. Your cosigner is on the hook for the debt, not the plowing service if something happens. So not this cosigner is praying you get to work. That's why you don't cosign.

    I'd get rid of that Nissas asap, if possible. Start by organizing your massive debt at the same time you're working on insurance for that F250. Good luck and come here in the Spring for advice before getting into the spot you're in now.
     
  7. SnowRemoval1

    SnowRemoval1 Junior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 16

    The guy who did all the buildings last year bought an 2010 F250 truck and the truck and 8ft plow doesn't fit in the lots. All the buildings I do are all smaller apartment/condo complex's and I have no commercial lots. That's why I bought the smaller truck as well.
     
  8. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    An 8' blade is too big for commercial plowing? Post some pics of these lots. Sounds like a Jeep would be really good for them.
     
  9. SnowRemoval1

    SnowRemoval1 Junior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 16

    http://i60.tinypic.com/14nztab.jpg

    The driveway entrance itself to most of these are between 7ft and 8ft wide. Angling the blade was an option but I don't want to pack the snow to the side and make the entrance even smaller. Secondly, the Nissan Frontier is only about 7ft wide so a 6'8 plow was more practical.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  10. SnowRemoval1

    SnowRemoval1 Junior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 16

    Everything is last second and I am seriously freaking out. I bought the truck about 1 month ago. Immediately purchased a truck rino bed liner that I am STILL waiting on as when I ordered it they never ordered it. I purchased the plow days after I bought the truck and am still waiting on Central Parts to get the mounting bracket in so my install date is late on November 17th. This is the last lawn care week as well. I still have to submit the lawn care statements in for checks for Oct and Nov by the end of this week and end that season while trying to get ready for winter. Salt is already bought and paid for. Just too much going on in these next 2 weeks not to mention I leave for Minnesota on the 25th of November. Yes, I easily rushed into this without knowing the facts but I thought I was covered by State Farm like they told me. I think my best bet would be to try to get as many clients as possible between now and it snowing (hard to do) and certainly get an insurance plan which will be extremely hard to do. The problem is there are so many low ballers in the Oak Lawn area that have no insurance or anything that have a truck and a plow and want the cash. I've heard that a lot of big time commercial owners are backing out of snow removal business because of this. I'm not big...I have around 20 properties and that's it. Ugh the headaches...
     
  11. derekslawncare

    derekslawncare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,003

    Well, I don't know who said you can't plow that site you pictured with an F-250 and an 8' blade. That is the setup I started with 9 years ago, and I did accounts that size all day long in my sleep. I currently service accounts smaller than that with my new truck, a 2012 F-550 chassis cab with a 205" wheel base, a 10.5' V-plow and a 3.1yd V-box spreader on the back, so no looking out the rear window to back up; all mirrors. Is it fun? Not in the least. Can it be done? YES. So I don't know how you drive (or your guy with the 250 that was doing your plowing for you), but I think someone needs to go back to plowing/driving school.

    As for the insurance:
    Well here comes a long answer. Are you incorporated/LLC? I'm guessing no by your age. If not, you need in addition to the above mentioned general liability, you need to have a personal umbrella policy. This will keep you from losing your house in the event you have a serious accident and are sued. Also, you ABSOLUTELY have to let your auto insurance agent know you are plowing and make sure it gets added (in writing, not just a verbal, "I got you covered") from your agent, otherwise, again when something happens, if they didn't know you were plowing, they could refuse to cover it, or cover it and then immediately drop you as just happened. I had my F-250 insured through State Farm w/o issue, but when I got my 550, they refused because I was also doing roll off dumpster rentals with it and the liability for property damage was too high. So now all my business insurance (truck, equipment and liability) is handled through someone who specializes in commercial insurance. General liability policy needs to be in the neighborhood of 1 million at bare minimum, unless your agent tells you differently.
    The biggest thing to remember with insurance is that it isn't there to replace your truck, plow or whatever, it is to PROTECT YOU FROM BEING SUED INTO THE STONE AGES IF SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS, so shop for and price it with that in the back of your mind. Remember, we live in a day and age where everyone thinks that someone else owes them something for nothing and this is never more apparent than after an accident. (Think woman and the cup of coffee and Mc D's) Hope this helps.
     
  12. SnowRemoval1

    SnowRemoval1 Junior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 16

    Appreciate it Derek. Certainly going to need insurance but $6,000 is far to steep. I have about 2 weeks to shop around and get covered until all hell breaks loose with snow in Chicago. Praying for another year like last year or I'll be plowing to be insured. Not the smartest planning on my part and I really rushed into this which I shouldn't have. The drive (which is not pictured) is only 8 foot/2 inches wide so getting a 8 foot plow down the driveway (3 complex's are like this) would be tough. I also charge extra to do the parking spaces themselves and an 8 foot plow wouldn't fit in the spaces. It was more about accessibility for me and not wanting to hit anything. I appreciate the help.
     
  13. SnowRemoval1

    SnowRemoval1 Junior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 16

    No incorporated LLC to answer than question as well.
     
  14. SnowRemoval1

    SnowRemoval1 Junior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 16

    Another question- Would it be better to go with regular collision coverage and let state farm know I have the snow plow and will be doing a few lots and get it in writing that i am covered then go to a site like Hiscox.com and get General Liability Insurance. If I have to pay $50 a month for that which is a lot better than $6,000 a yr for a business in which that 6k is 25% profits
     
  15. derekslawncare

    derekslawncare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,003

    I am by no means an insurance expert. I only know what my dad taught me growing up, and what my agents have told me throughout my time as a small business owner, which is, people will sue for anything they think they can get a buck for. The only thing State Farm handles for my wife and I are her car, the house, my disability (think Aflack) and our umbrella policy. Everything that has anything to do with my business is handled through a broker that specializes in commercial insurance. The benefit of using a broker is that he can go through several different companies, so he is able to search several to get the best price for what you need. You wouldn't have your family doctor do your heart transplant, you would have a heart surgeon. Commercial insurance is the same. Go with someone who knows how to underwrite commercial policies. The agent I use for my entire business is CEK Insurance, Mark Tomes, 816-453-8584. He writes my commercial policy through Allied Insurance. He covers my truck, my plow, salt spreader, liquid spray rig, two flat bed bodies and three roll off dumpsters. Further, he covers my skid steer, snow bucket and HLA Snow Wing plow for the skid steer. All that cost me about $2800.00 a year. Of course, I'm 44 yrs old, not 18 and haven't had an at fault accident in over 20 years, so obviously we aren't exactly comparing apples to apples, but I still think $6000.00 a year seams VERY high. You might give him a call and tell him that I referred you and if he can't write you, he's probably not licensed to do business in your state, than maybe he can put you in touch with someone through Allied or another of his companies that can maybe help you out. Good luck and let me know how it goes.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  16. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 8,518

    In all the chaos that surrounds you why-O-why did you get a plow narrower than your truck?
    A 8ft plow is more practical. Thumbs Up

    next, it's going to snow while your in MN do you have a subcontractor ready to cover your accounts?

    If not, just take the rest of the year off.

    hint, you don't need to be covered in the summer for snow plowing....
    I know agents hate it but cancel the policy and regroup.

    You should have been shopping Ins back in August, as it's time to go to work now.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  17. lawnlandscape

    lawnlandscape Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    My biggest question is why the hell did you buy a Nissan Frontier for plowing??

    I'd suggest selling it immediately! Your not going to want a new vehicle for plowing anyway, your going to beat it up.

    Get a 3/4 ton truck, and a lot of your 'problems' will be fixed just with that move.
     
  18. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    That's what I suggested. Trade that Nissan in on a real work truck. Nissan is 7 feet wide (he says) and he puts a 6'8'' plow on it for commercial plowing. The logic doesn't add up with any of this. You need a couple older paid off trucks to do this sensibly at your age. The insurance is going to be higher for your age, so paid off equipment will help offset that cost until you're older.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2014
  19. SnowRemoval1

    SnowRemoval1 Junior Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 16

    Plows paid off. Nissan truck isnt 6'8 wide ive paid off all the other 2 cars ive owners which are 2008 and newer. The nissan is doable for my small parking lots and parking spaces. I'd be a moron if you traded in a car thats not paid off (as the dealer gives less value) in change for a bigger truck when I have small lots and not commercial lots.
     
  20. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    Sounds like you have it all figured out. Good luck, man.