Dents and insurance


I was wondering what most guys do when they dent a parked car or their own truck. Do you file claims or cough up the cash? Heres the totals so far this year. 9 storms. 4 trucks. My guys have hit- 1 tree $800 damage to truck. 1 Fire hydrant $600 damage to truck. 1 parked car $1,100. 2 mailboxes (that I know about). 1 Phone box with enough cables inside to make a 2" rope. At least they tell me when they hit stuff. Ive been avioding the insurance, but It's starting to really add up. I was the cool guy on this site in November with almost all seasonal contracts. Now I'm feeling poor and frustrated.


Senior Member
Central NJ 08620
Hell, I feel much better now since all its cost me so far was the window on one truck when the mirror clipped the drive thru pole.

Now as far as your situation, do these guys clean the snow off the windshield before they start plowing or do these jedi masters just use the FORCE???

Seriously Insurance is designed for these "accidents" but with that much damage you might want to cover at least you truck damage yourself or you comp coverage will go thru the roof. I made my guy pay for 1/2 the cost of the window as I believe that if they dont feel your pain, they will be just as careless next time. Good luck.


GeoffD Veteran
Ok relax, If you plow snow you will hit stuff, that is why you need insurance. I had a loader opperator push a Geo Metro 8 to 10' up in a snowbank. That was a 3000 dollar claim.

I would rank your problems in the order of expense

Utility Box deal with that first, if there is any damage inside the box it will be expensive. I know this from being in the utility biz.

Parked car Deal with that next.
The Mail Boxes you can fix yourself. So deal with those.

Your trucks should be the last thing you deal with IMO.

I would call the insurance co on the Utility box and parked car. Unless you want to pay cash.

I would pay cash on the Mail Boxes and your trucks to keep your insurance claims down.

As far as seasonal contracts. Thats why I always add in 5 to 7 storms above our average. I have a per storm cost for each lot, and I multiply that by out average and add in an extra 5 to 7 storms. So I am never a low bidder, but at the same time I can tell people I will still be there providing service in March. Maybe when you do your bid for next year try to add in a few extra $$ to cover yourself on a big winter.

BTW I am all seasonal too.

I don't see how you can ask your employees to come up with the money to pay for 1/2 the damages. I don't even think it is legal, they are being paid to use your truck to make you money, and crap happens.


[Edited by GeoffDiamond on 01-22-2001 at 09:38 PM]


I agree with Geoff, start with the Utility company and the auto owner. They can be the biggest thorns in your back side. We have a couple of $500.00 dents in one of our trucks from the mowing crew. I just decided that these things happen and most likely will continue to happen. So we just don't fix them, it is the cost of doing business. We only had one problem this winter so far. My dad backed into a concrete light pole standard and krinkled the bumper and side of the box. That will be turned in because it is not an everyday work truck and we want that one nice.


Senior Member
Central NJ 08620

I didnt state the paying half the cost part very well in my post. That was for the one incident with the window and a result of just carelessness on the drivers part. Not paying attention to what he was doing. Now had he taken out a car or something major then we would turn it over to the insurance company, and obviously he would not be expected to pay any of that cost. Big mistakes I can handle easy, its the little dumb ones that occur over and over and over that make me nuts. By having them pay a portion of the cost they are more likely to be focused on what they are doing.

Cost him 65 bucks or three hours of driving and he felt that was fair. In fact he offered to pay the full cost but again the issue wasnt the broken window but the carelessness that next time could be a car/firehydrant/lightpost or pedestrian.


Western Michigan

I would pay for a mirror a night for a good reliable dependable driver who could be trusted.

Its so easy for that little stuff to happen, and so hard to find reliable people, that I could overlook quite a few oops, especially after I just asked him to work a 11 pm to 11 am shift in my truck.


I wont be deducting anyones pay for their screw ups. but I will keep it in mid when it comes raise time. I trust my guys to do a good job and look out for me and they do their best. I hit stuff too- just not yet this year. Also, they have had a lot of accidents this year, but we have a tough route. Many full paring lots, lots of tight areas, and the phone box was hidden by an older snowbank.


2000 Club Member
Yeah I also think that making him pay for that damage is pretty tacky. This last storm we had 2 mishaps, one will end up cost about 2500.00 to repair a window and wall section at the nursing home. The driver didnt pay attention, and when he realized he was to close, he hit the brakes hard and slid into the building. That one will go onto the insurance.
The other was a driver "trying" to be a nice guy and widening a driveway, and slid off. Wrecker was needed, took 5 hrs to get him out. No damage, but alot of missed plowing time. He turned his time card in today, and had deducted the 5 hrs from it, on his own. He felt really bad about what happened. He thought I would freak when I saw how bad it was stuck, but some how I kept my cool. It was 10 degrees, so I stayed real cool.
Like Geoff says, stuff happens, but if you are having that many claims, I would go over the route and safety procedures again.

John Allin Addict
Erie, PA
Unfortunately, truck dents are part of the biz. Hitting buildings ??? Well.... I don't know about that. However, it is what insurance is for.

I agree about the phone box. EXPENSIVE. Now THAT's what insurance is for, IMO.

I'll tell you what I consider "abuse". When something happens (dent in fender, broken wing window, salt damage to the cab of the sidewalk crew's truck, etc) and they don't tell us. Hiding it is abuse. Tell me so we can get it fixed.

Had an employee that was crew leader on a sidewalk crew the past two years. Wanted into a plow truck in the worst way.... not too reliable either. The day we interviewed him for the plow truck job, he drove a truck trailer combination (landscape maintenance) into the side frame of one of our overhead doors. Didn't know he'd done it until someone screamed at him to STOP. Says he didn't judge the distance correctly.

Third time last season he did this.

He's still on the sidewalk crew.


Stamford, CT
Luckily, the only I caused was my fault to my truck last winter. I was turning around in this large driveway, checked my nmirrors and started backing up, Guess I was overly tired and should have known better, but I was in a hurry.

I was trying to finesse myself around a car left in the driveway ... when all of a sudden... WHAM!!! backed right into a large rock outcropping, and bent my step bumper and the lower bed corner. Replaced the bumper and cab corners myself. $300 bucks in Parts...

Well, at least it wasn't the Customer's house or car!!

So far this year (KNOCK on Wood) No accidents or incidents!


Senior Member
Now I don't feel so bad for all the mishaps we have had this season. This past storm had one guy take out the side of a 2001 Ford Crown Victoria, the windows, mirror and fender and doors all peeled off not to good, but stuff does happen. The last storm a light pole was magiclly knocked over. Just like John said it is even worse when they dont tell you and you find out by either driving by yourself or getting a call from the property owner or mangager. But thats why we carry so much insurance. Just dont like to make too many claims. Use your judgement and fix what you can on your own and if the damage is close to your deductable then pay for it yourself. Just my two cents


Senior Member
Making guys pay for their accidents out of their own pockets I'm not sure is legal unless you have it in writting with their signiture.I would never make one of my employees pay for an accident,thats why they work for me and not for themselves.If they are really a problem then you need to find some one else to run your equipment,but if they are qualified and usually careful then you should ante up.As far as bills you have coming in the Utility repair could be very health,I know that because on occation we dig up phone lines and it could be several thousand dollars and this would be a good one to turn in to insurance.

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