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Insurance/liability question

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Eddiej, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. Eddiej

    Eddiej Member
    from UK
    Messages: 39


    I'm based in the UK, and have seen an opening to start a snow clearing business in my local town and the surrounding area.
    Private sector snow clearance as far as I am aware isn't something that happens over here. The local council clear main roads and everything else is pretty much left!
    I'm intending to start a business, clearing school playgrounds/access routes, public and private carparks, privately owned industrial estates, retirement homes, hospitals and anywhere else that I can think of including possibly public highway.
    My concern and question though, is with insurance. How is this dealt with in the USA and are there disclaimer forms signed by customers prior to commencement of work. I'm thinking exoneration from blame in the event of someone falling over or a car skidding and having an accident. This is major problem over here, and no residential pathways are cleared by home owners, as they fear being sued by pedistrians.
    Also what happens in the event of say street furniture being damaged because it is hidden under snow, or even perhaps sunken lighting that is hooked up. Are you in some way protected from these incidents, or do they even occur.

    I just want to make sure that my back is covered before venturing into the unknown. All replies gratefully received, and I hope that I have posted this in the right section.:)

    Sorry, one last thing. if there are disclaimer forms or terms and conditions available, would some one be kind enough to forward me a copy, to give me an insight of what to have written.
  2. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    Laws in the US vary from state to state, I can't iamgine how what we have here would do you much good. Have a lawyer who is familiar with the laws in the UK draw you up the contract, terms and conditions disclaimer(hold harmless) ETC, anything you get here would be a guideline only and MAY be a liability for you as well. And by the way, what the hell is street furniture??? I've never heard that one..........
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  3. Eddiej

    Eddiej Member
    from UK
    Messages: 39

    :D:D Its term that we have for things like bollards, bike parks, benches, and street lighting.

    Thanks for the input. I was only really after a guide, as snow clearing is going to be a whole new world to me, and don't want to start off on the wrong foot, then regret it later because of some foolish mistake that I have made.
  4. eshskis

    eshskis Senior Member
    from 4
    Messages: 138

    God I hate street furniture, Hows the weather in the UK?
  5. Eddiej

    Eddiej Member
    from UK
    Messages: 39

    Other than on the pavements, the snow has already pretty much gone.
    Here in the South East of the UK, we don't get that much snow, but when it does everything just grinds to a halt. Its pathetic really, and happens each time. Most of the problems are caused by 4x4 users who don't have a clue about how to drive and show no consideration to road users of 2 wheel drive vehicles or commercial vehicles/trucks. They just push through, don't give way, and lack complete common sense to allow others to move first. This then snarls everything up, and those that do need to get around can't.
    The Government and local authorities are just as bad. They get caught out each time that snow falls. I'm hoping that because of there lack of efficiency, I can capitalize upon it!:) Sadly, the time period is very short, so I'll just have to work bloody hard to earn the money while I can.
  6. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    What city/town and country (or former named) are you in? The laws are certainly different here than over there. I saw some of your other posts and you seem to have an inquiring mind. If we could get some more information about your climate, populous, resources for equipment and de-icers, perhaps even fabrication, we will have a better chance of helping you out.

    What is the price of fuel there and do you have limits or regular shortages? Just curious.
  7. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    Pavements? lawn areas? Here pavements are roads(generally).
  8. Eddiej

    Eddiej Member
    from UK
    Messages: 39

    I'm based in the County of Sussex, England. The following link should help provide a bit more info on the requested info and thank you.:) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowborough
    As said, this is whole new venture for me, and one that I would like to get into and take very seriously. Sadly the time period that we actually have snow condition here in the South East is very short. This in truth makes the viability of snow clearing as a commercial venture, fairly unrealistic given the cost of equipment etc and more so the lack of availability of it. I'm not going to let this put me off, and want to look at a much bigger picture by offering a year round dedicated snow and winter equipment and resources supply business. That way, the opportunity for making profit may be increased, particularly if I can get onto government supply lists, and sell tools equipment nationally to agricultural contractors and domestic users.
    The difficulty in respect of my own snow clearing equipment is that ideally you need four types. A small blower for domestic driveways, a larger vehicle type blower for clearing rural roads across our open forest area, a small ATV mounted plow, for clearing our many schools, hospitals, shopping areas, surgery's and private residential car parks. Then lastly a larger vehicle mounted plow for private industrial estates and minor roads. Local authorities clear and salt all major roads, but minor roads are left.
    Realistically, the large plow and large blower, aren't a viable option in my area, as local Government would need authorize both use and funding, which unless things became very out of hand weather wise, won't happen as the money isn't there.
    This just leaves me with the small blower and ATV based plow. This is where I beleive where the money could be made anyway, especially if I also offered a salt/gritting service.
    Equipment and tool supply here is rubbish, so one of my first hurdles is going to finding anyone abroad who is interested in selling me the equipment. I've been onto Ariens four times now, to both the USA based company and European, and haven't heard a word of contact bac! Shipping is also going to be a major sticking point, along with I suppose customs duties etc, which currently I know nothing about.

    In respect of fuel, you wouldn't beleive just how much that we have to pay for 'white' diesel.
    The forecourt price in my area is currently about £1.10p a litre or £5.50p a gallon!!!
    We also have 'red' diesel, which has a different tax duty on it and is aimed at agricultural use. Its the same product, but with a red colour added. It is a very big offence to use red diesel on on a road vehicle over here, and carries extremely high penalties if caught. I have an idea that snow plows may be able to use red diesel, but that it also something that I need to look into, and may also require me to fit a twin tank fuel system, one for red and one for white.

    I can see that it's quite easy to have confusion between definitions.:)

    Over here, roads, tracks and lanes are for vehicle use. The term lane is generally used for very minor routes, but also on dual carriage ways and motorways as in separation of lanes.

    Tracks are mainly rough unsurfaced roads that lead to farms etc.

    Pavements are for pedestrian use only, as are parks, lawns and grass verges.
    The majority of streets in my area have a pavement directly bordering a property boundary, then a grass verge boarding by kerb stone, then a highway.
    If the space is restricted, there will be no grass verge.

    In many European countries, the home owner by law, is supposed to maintain and clear both the grass verge and the pedestrian pathway. Here in England, this isn't 'sadly' the case. The liability for these two areas stays with the local councils. To this end, nothing gets done, as finance always goes somewhere else. It also makes a nasty situation, where by any home owner maintaining or clearing these two areas, can be sued by any member of the public that has an accident. It one law that badly needs changing as when snow does hit, the pedestrian paths are un-walkable, and pedestrian then have to take their lives into their own hands by walking on the roads. This obviously isn't an ideal situation for anyone, and particularly at risk are mothers, children, and the elderly.
    One simple change of law could change that whole sorry situation, but it'll sadly never happen!

    I know that the above has taken the thread off topic, but hopefully you have all found it interesting.:)
  9. coral

    coral Senior Member
    Messages: 128

    Not sure how laws and regulations in the us would be valid or useable in the uk....hopefully someone from the uk may have some advice...
  10. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    Clear Diesel $1.84cdn/l = $8.96u.s./imp.gal =$8.14u.s./u.s. gal
    Your paying about twice what we do here in my province.

    We call a verge a boulevard over here. At first I found it odd that they would have to be cleared of snow. Then I realized most of our roads were designed for big cars and snow plows not pedestrian or horse and buggy traffic. I'm assuming your verges are generally under 1 meter wide.

    As far as the thread going off topic it happens a lot, I don't mind, I do find it interesting. Perhaps you can start another thread and call it the UK snow thread. We don't have many members here outside of the U.S. and Canada. This site does have a high SEO ranking, so who knows maybe a new thread would be worthwhile.

    P.S. We like pictures too.