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Insurance nightmare

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by cutntrim, Sep 23, 2003.

  1. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    Here's a little story about how things can go from good to bad in a hurry for landscapers...

    I've been in business for a little while now (1992) and offer summer and winter maintenance for commercial and residential clients in Burlington and Oakville, Ontario. (Basically the outer suburbs of Toronto if you will). Until this past winter I was accident-free on my commercial vehicle policy.

    Then in February one of my employees backed into a little Honda which drove right behind his bumper as he was finishing up plowing his first property that day. So after she produced a couple of estimates of $3000 or so, I figured lets go through insurance since I'd never had any previous claims.

    Well, then in May I was broad-sided by a tractor trailer and my truck was bent to hell from just behind the cab on the passenger side. No injuries but the truck was a write-off. He was "timing the light" and I was trying to clear the intersection with 14' trailer in tow after being stranded behind a overly cautious woman in a little VW who waited until the light went yellow before making her turn.

    The officer on the scene wrote it up as "no fault" since there weren't any witnesses other than me that could say he entered the intersection as it went red. Turns out the insurance companies ALWAYS assign blame to a driver in an accident, and the left-turning vehicle is automatically at fault. Unless the other party is caught (or admits to) running a red light. This meant two "at fault losses" within 12 months. The truck I was in was a 1989 that I did not opt for collision coverage on, so I was re-imbursed nothing for the truck...and the trailer being attached at the time was not covered under my liability insurance policy, since it was technically a "vehicle" at the time. So no payout for truck or trailer.

    After losing thousands and having to have a new trailer built, and working all summer down from three trucks to two, I was looking forward to picking up my newly ordered '04 GMC yesterday. However, my broker informed me (yesterday) that Royal & SunAlliance would not be renewing my insurance because of the accidents. Royal was giving me exactly 30 days notice before my policy expired.

    The only other co. that my broker said would touch me is "Facility Insurers" which is a group of several insurance companies that together assume the "high risk" clients no one else wants. My cost to insure is quoted at $5800.00/yr for the '04. Payment in full, no payment plan offered. I had been paying $3,600.00/yr for all three trucks (two 1989's and an '85) prior to the broadside collision.

    So, basically I'm screwed. I'm going to shop brokers prior to my coverage expiring in a month's time, but the prospects aren't good. Most insurance companies won't even touch snowplowing for any landscaper, never mind one so "high risk" as myself.

    Shows you how bad the insurance market is today. They dropped me, with no appeals process available, and I so far can't even find any other insurance companies (other than Facility) that will provide plowing rate quotes. Oh, and Faciliy is actually managed by none other than Royal & SunAlliance, so no mercy there for me.
    Makes a guy consider dumping snow services altogether. Be careful out there guys, 'cause a couple of strokes of bad luck and you could be in my shoes...and your previous claims-free history won't help you.
  2. GVLawnCare

    GVLawnCare Junior Member
    Messages: 22


    Maybe this will help, but I am not sure. Keep in mind i live in NY and you are in a whole different country. 2 years ago, I hit a pedestrian with my truck. Not my fault, the kid ran out from a behind a parked vehicle, paying no attention. Yup, you guessed it: SMACK :eek: About 15 days after the accident, I get the same notice you talk about, 30 days and i will be dropped from Nationwide. (You can bet they won't be on your side!!) The police report stated clearly that the pedestrian was at fault. But guess what. NYS is a "no fault" state, and the pedestrian always has the right away, even if your doing 30 mph and he runs out in front of you, giving you about 1/2 a second to stop. Kind of stupid, nonetheless, that is the law.

    So what are your options? Heres what i did. After getting many crazy premium quotes, I asked......If I was not at fault, why should I be charged?? Well guess what. I hit a pot of gold....It is illegal for an insurance company to charge you for an accident that is not your fault. Read your policy. If you are being charged, bring it to their attention. If you are looking for insurance, tell them, show them the police report.

    Now I can only speak for NYS, but law where you live may be the same or similar. They will try to charge you, but can they?? Fight it, don't let them take any more from you, god knows they already get enough of our money. If you have been getting charged for an accident you were not at fault for, you may even get a refund for overpaying your premium.

    Good Luck,
  3. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    That sucks.Have you tried checking with Landscape Ontario ? They have some good companies available,and they specialize in insurance just for our industry.

    I'll ask around here,and see if I can track down a few other companies for ya.
  4. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    I asked the ombudsman for Royal & SunAlliance for help, since they are supposed to be impartial and there for the consumer. She turned me over to an internal investigator within Royal & SunAlliance who said the best she could do was to guarantee the new truck under the old policy for 30 days. Current policy expires Oct.23. She also said that the issue of a left-turning vehicle is cut-and-dry from an insurance standpoint. The vehicle turning left is always at fault...unless the other driver is charged with running a red, speeding, intoxication, etc... Since the other guy was not charged (officer wrote it up as "no fault") I'm S.O.L.

    I have contacted Landscape Ontario and they recommended Sinclair Cockburn Insurance. I left a message with the guy who handles landscaper's accounts. Waiting to hear back...