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Plowing Insurance

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by NEUSWEDE, Dec 27, 2004.


    NEUSWEDE Senior Member
    Messages: 949

    I am not plowing this winter but will be plowing next winter and want to know what I need for insurance. I have gotten quotes for my landscape side of my company but say in bold it doesn't include plowing. What do I need insurance wish for a plowing and what general area should I expect to pay. I am in Maine and expect to have 10-30 accounts next winter half commercial and half resdential.The company that the quote for my landscaping insurance is through doesn't have a market for plowing that is why I am asking before I go looking for plowing insurance. It is awhile off just want input.
  2. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    In essence insurance is not "mandatory" per say...Generally Speaking....

    You will need General Liability (GL) for the business which covers suits like the common slip & fall. You will need a auto policy (i.e. commercial) that covers the plow on the vehicle in transport and any damage it or the vehicle causes.

    Your rates will depend significantly on your deductibles.

    For my particular situation...

    I have a landscape company that has G&L. I pay ~$1k for a "rider" that attaches to that policy to cover my snow plowing. If I didn't have this rider I would NOT be covered for ANY type of snow plowing incidents/suits. Also, the commercial auto policy covers plow/vehicle damages.

    If I were to go out and just get "snow plowing" G&L insurance the rates/quotes were anywhere from 3k on up to 5k. Again, this depends on amount of coverage, deductibles, and other factors. Therefore, I saved a few thousand by having the rider added to my current insurance policy.

    I would look into changing insurance policies in your case. Talk to a reputable, recommended insurance agent who has the ability to speak with several insurance carriers.

    NEUSWEDE Senior Member
    Messages: 949

    So what your saying is that if I add a "rider" which I don't have but say I do I pay a lower rate than just getting G&L for overall.

    I went through allstate for my landscape stuff that goes through a few but they claim they don't have a snow plow market. So If I just insure "another person" with G&L and don't even mention snow plowing just that they are working for me I am covered or I need to mention it has to do with plowing. I am looking into other companies just slow response with the holidays and I just wanted to get input as I am new to this and I am making a go of my company soon.
  4. somm

    somm Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    We pay $183 a month on a million bucks of commercial vehicle insurance, and $115 a month for a million bucks of general business liability insurance. No Claims yet for 15 years, through American Family.
    This million dollar level is the level most commercial accounts want from you to satisfy their underwriters.
    We pass this on to the customer, of course, but this bites because there's only 3 to 5 decent snows a year here, and we pay these rates all year long!

    When i retire, i think i'm gonna be an insurance man, lol.
  5. Mick

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

    You really need both - Commercial Vehicle and General Liability insurance. I'm north of you about an hour. Check with an independent insurance agent for a company that can offer GL insurance - not all insurance companies do which you found out. Your rate is going to be very dependent on type of accounts, years of experience plowing snow, location, driving/claim history, personal factors like age and the particular company you insure though. Rates can vary widely from company to company.

    DJL is correct, technically you are not required to have GL insurance. But if you ever have a claim for damage, a court settlement could cost you everything you have or ever will have. If you do not have Commercial Vehicle insurance and cause damage, the company could refuse to pay the claim and, again, you could lose everything ... Unfortunately, agents who claim "you are covered, all you have to do is ..." do not have to back it up unless it's in writing. That's why agents will tell you anything, but not write down anything. The only thing written is from the Underwriter - and the bill. If you press the agent on a point - he/she will eventually tell you that they will have to contact the Underwriter for clarification. I've done it - and have the documentation specifying what I wanted clarified.

    "Unless it's written, it doesn't exist".
  6. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    I'm not 100% that it would be lower but in my particular case and those a read on this site I believe it is true. Allstate may not insure for snow plowing. As an example. I have a dump trailer in my landscape business. I contacted my insurance company about using the dump trailer as a dumpster for house renovations. The insurance company said if I was going to do that they would give me 30 days to find another insurance company cause they don't deal with covering that particular "risk". Needless to say, I'll let the dump trailer sit for a few months during the year.

    Listen to what MICK has said. He makes a VERY good point. If it isn't written into your insurance contract... chances are you are NOT covered. When the claim would come in they (ins. co.) simply would not pay and they would come right after all of your business assets.

    Also, I believe you might be confusing workmens comp (WC) with G&L. G&L covers accidents, incidents, faults, etc. caused by your company (i.e. you & your employees) that damage property and/or people. Workmens Comp would cover medical costs, missed wages, and other items for employees that got hurt on the job.

    Workmens comp will be affected by the type of work the employee is performing. I'm not required to carry workems comp b/c I do not have any employees (I have a member run LLC). However, I've gotten quotes for WC and it starts at a minimum $8k/yr for a "laborer" in the landscaping field. However, the cost would be less that $2k per year to have WC on a secretary. Why? The risk is less, chances are secretary isn't going to loose her hand in the stapler but chances are higher that the laborer will loose his hand in the lawn mower. Or, in this case, the snow thrower---if applicable. This may/may not reduce your WC. Also, WC is based on the amount of payroll usually with some sort of min for the year.

    As a side note, it is very good to see you asking these questions BEFORE you jump into the business. :nod:

    NEUSWEDE Senior Member
    Messages: 949

    Thanks it gives me a good idea what to look for in an insurance policy, I don't want to go broke before I start but want the right paper work so I don't go broke from a mistake when I get started. I just wanna go the legal route from the start and so I know what to factor into my work so I can pay the bills.
    So now I guess I just need to get a bunch of different quotes and see what it says in the paperwork before moving forward.

  8. CrazyCooter

    CrazyCooter Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    Who did you end up finding for a reasonably priced insurance? I've been checking, but so far haven't found any that I like enough to bite on.... You?
  9. JTS Landscaping

    JTS Landscaping Member
    Messages: 53

    i pay $1973 for the year that covers me with the landscaping, mowing and plowing thats in michigan though.

    NEUSWEDE Senior Member
    Messages: 949

    After tons and tons of research and picking the brain of my local Allstate agent and tons of calls. I can insure my truck with commercial insurance which is cheeper than regular auto and insure my company with general liability insurance and I will be covered. The commercial insurance will insure me if I back into or damage anything with my truck/anything connected to it while operating it. The general liability will protect me when on someones property. So for me doing landscaping and plowing is the way to go.
  11. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    Good for you. What you can hope for now is thatthe insurance you are paying be a waste of money and never have a claim against you...

    NEUSWEDE Senior Member
    Messages: 949

    That is what I hope for. But the world is filled with sue happy people!
  13. jeffw

    jeffw Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    i have commercial truck insurance on my new plow rig i looked into gl and it is 1400 for 1 mil of coverage for 6 months, just plowing ect. My agent told me if i do not shovel or salt ect i really don;t need the gl insurance as there is little that can happen that would not be caused by the truck hitting something. that is what the truck insurance is for.

    what is your thoughts on this?

    i was thinking of getting a small salter for next year, but at those prices i would have to move alot of salt and time before i make my expenses. this is only an extra income for me, as my f/t keeps me busy. salting may be a problem as when you need it you need it now not when i get out of work.

  14. Mick

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

    (My thoughts are: ) Your agent is wrong. Typical scenario - You plow a parking lot. Someone falls on that lot. Could even be days later. They can sue the property owner and you for damages. Or maybe they sue the property owner. The owner's insurance in turn sues you. Doesn't matter if you salted the lot or not. They could even claim that you're responsible because you should have salted or should have the capability to salt.
  15. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    LOL, can't sue cause you didn't salt. Think about it...you have someone suing Micky-D's cause it made him fat, someone else is suing cause the D&D coffee spilled on her lap and burned her.

    Dump this yahoo and find an insurance agent who knows what the heck they are talking about and is familiar with commercial plowing.

    SIPLOWGUY Senior Member
    Messages: 686

    I've been sitting this winter out because I can't get the proper insurance that is worth getting involved in. If anyone has a link please let me know!
  17. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    Your agent is actually right I think. But so is Mick. That doesn't seem to make any sense I know. Here's how it is for me. Same scenario, I have the commercial policy for prop damage, up to 1 million. No G/L. Why? The quote was for about $1,700.00 a year. With the amount of plowing I do, which is all residential at the moment, there is no way I could operate at a profit paying that much for G/L. So, then you have to choose. Either don't plow or take your chances without the G/L which is what I'm doing.

    Now, it is true that you can be sued, lose everything and so forth. But, I talked about this with my attorney at length and there are plenty of ways to cover yourself without G/L in this circumstance. First, yes, you can be sued, but guess what.......they have to WIN. If you are only plowing, not shoveling, sanding or salting, and you use "ordinary care" in doing it, there is virtually no chance you'll ever be found liable for some jackass who's trying to sue for slip/fall. So if you have your truck properly registered and commercially insured, proper safety equipment, amber light, you're not drunk or stoned while plowing, and not driving like a maniac, that's "ordinary care".

    It's common sense, you're only hired and paid to plow and therefore it's not reasonable to say that you should be responsible for anything beyond that. You can also put a simple "disclaimer" in your contracts and invoices that indemnify you from responsibility beyond simply plowing snow. You can set up a trust and put your house and everything you own under it so if you personally get sued, even if they win they can't get a DAMNED THING!

    Now, before the rest of you start coming after me like crazy, I want to point out that my comments are not directed towards guys who are running bigger businesses that can afford and should have G/L. Guy's who are doing lots, walkways, sanding/salting are much more open to a slip fall lawsuit and would probably be crazy to not have G/L insurance. But for the "one man band" who's just doing driveways, it is simply not cost effective or necessary for the reasons I've given.

    Are you taking a chance? Yes. That's what life's all about, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You try to play by the rules and cover yourself the best you can, but you have to draw the line somewhere. So, talk to your lawyer, set up your trust, write up your disclaimer and do what you have to do. If they sue you, they won't win and if by some one chance in 10 thousand they do win, they won't have anything to collect. So PLOW on and to hell with the ambulance chasers!
  18. insnow4fun

    insnow4fun Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 43

    one man show here too

    well said....johntwist....i myself am thinking of getting into this venture, and the price of GL is scaring me out of it. i try reading this site over and over, and really have not seen where a suit has been brought against a snow plower. even my insurance guy sez, a gl might not be needed. so either i need a gl or i need a new insurance guy.
  19. Mick

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

    John, I'd say you did a real good job of outlining the issue of insurance. As long as a person is aware of the risks and chooses to take the chance, that's their decision. Just be willing to live with it. Like any other gamble, you stand to win or lose more than the person who isn't taking that chance. It's just that for me, I'm not willing to take the risk at this point in my life. If I didn't have the GL insurance, I'd clear another $800 a year. Just like I carry full coverage insurance on my newer truck, even though it's paid for and full coverage is not required. It's just not worth the risk.
  20. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    Thanks Mick.

    I agree. This has to be handled by each of us according to our own circumstances, and we all have to be able to live with the results. Another reason I can't afford the G/L is that I carry alot of life insurance. I'm 39, my wife 38. Our kids are 7yrs, 3yrs and 8 months old. I'm not willing to risk them not having their own home to grow up in should something happen to me. I'm also covered if something happens to my wife, and each of the kids is covered for funeral expenses. I hate even thinking about that, but I know that we'd be going through enough grief should we lose one of them that the added financial burden is something we don't want to deal with too.

    All that piece of mind costs me plenty each year, but for us we think it's worth it. Maybe for other families it's not. It's like you said, you're taking a risk. When I weighed out all the risks I have to take, I can only pay for so much insurance and unfortunately the G/L is too expensive right now. The other thing is when you think about it, out of all the threads here, all the talk about insurance, I've never seen any member say they were sued or say they lost a law suit and took a beating from it. That and cost made my choice for me for now. Hopefully, it's the right one.