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Snow season's almost here! Are you ready?

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Bill Grey, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. Bill Grey

    Bill Grey Member
    Messages: 43

    Once again summer seems like a distant memory already. I hope everyone had profitable summers. For those of you who remove snow in the winter, is everything ready? Are the trucks setup? Have you tested out all of your equipment? Have you mapped the properties for your drivers yet? Are the properties staked. I find that the guys who stay ahead of this process always seem to have the most successful operations.
    Insurance seems to be a real sore spot for contractors in the Northeast for the last several years. I will be honest and tell you that there is no easy solution to that problem. The prevalence of slip and falls is increasing every winter due to no fault of you guys. A slip and fall is a guaranteed payday for the plaintiff. I've yet to see one not pay out.
    I'm an insurance broker and we work with medium to large contracting firms all over the state. We write our fair share of coverage. I've been a long time lurker on Plowsite and Lawnsite for awhile. I've seen a lot of bad information passed along in many of these posts. If I can help anyone out who has questions, please feel free to ask. I know there is another broker on here who takes your questions as well and his answers have been spot on so far. Sometimes it's hard for me to help a smaller 1-2 truck company because a lot of carriers have minimum premiums that really don't make sense for a guy doing 10-20k in snow removal a year. If you're doing 50k, 100, 500k a year, I can most likely help you. If you guys are primarily landscapers you need to have your policies setup to primarily cover you for your landscaping operations and also cover you for snow removal in the winter. You can't bid jobs if you don't know your true operating costs.
    Please feel free to reach out if you've got any questions, comments or just want to get a feel for where the industry is headed.


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    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
  2. mtnbktrek

    mtnbktrek Senior Member
    from NEPA
    Messages: 144

    Where is the industry headed?
  3. Bill Grey

    Bill Grey Member
    Messages: 43

    Based on what myself and my partner have been seeing over the last few years, I would say that snow removal related insurance costs will probably push a lot of the smaller companies out of the game for awhile. 2-3 years ago a small guy could buy a monoline snow removal policy for about $2200. It went to about $3500 last year and now those same carriers are no longer offering the coverage in NY. Please remember that I can only speak for NY. It's the only state I do business in. I just got a rate back for a small contractor yesterday at about $5700. He's telling me it's the best rate he has but he probably still won't go for it. Some of the remaining carriers will only cover for street and road work. They will no longer cover shopping centers. The big box stores drive all the claims. I don't really have much more to offer you than that. This is what we see. If the economy makes a drastic improvement what you'll see happen is a few new carriers will come on board and offer "Low" rates again. At some point the larger accounts are going to have to swallow some of the rate increases as well if they want to keep the stores open during a storm. I'd love to hear others feedback on this as well.


  4. Citytow

    Citytow Senior Member
    from phila
    Messages: 548

    Yep,it's rough out here .
  5. mtnbktrek

    mtnbktrek Senior Member
    from NEPA
    Messages: 144

    what percentage of slip n falls are just settled? And is it really cost effective to just settle?
  6. Bill Grey

    Bill Grey Member
    Messages: 43

    I don't have an exact number on the cases that are just settled. Stores like Walmart, Home Depot, and Target for example do not ever want to go to court in these cases. Jurors perceive companies like them to be giant cash cows and then what happens is settlement amounts are usually inflated. Remember the woman who spilled coffee on her lap at McDonalds? That went to a jury.
    Now in most of these cases it's the snow removal contractor in court who is being defended by his insurance company. Same principle, the jury see's big money and they over compensate. The insurance company looks at it this way. They pay the least amount they can and they're done, versus going to court and having a jury possibly award millions. This is why so many carriers are no longer writing snow removal insurance. From what I've seen the average payouts are higher than car accidents. :confused:


  7. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    It's sad we live in such a litigious society where common sense or lack of common sense would empower these insurance companies so much. Honestly, if insurance companies started investigating these so called slip and falls instead of just being lazy and fear they might offend someone, I bet 85% of these claims would not exist! But everyone has this "I'm ENTITLED to get mine" attitude even when your the dumb ars who wears 6" hooker boots, tries to basically jump over a pile of snow instead of walking another 10 feet to where it was shoveled, slips and falls onto the sidewalk. (Not my slip and fall but a buddies) and then trys to sue him...WTF!
  8. Bill Grey

    Bill Grey Member
    Messages: 43

    I personally don't even think you should be able to sue for a slip and fall in the snow. Clearly it's snowing out. You can see the danger. We all learned at the earliest ages that snow and ice can be slippery.
    That's just me................

    Again Brian, if the insurance companies try fighting these cases and go to court it will ultimately cost them more in the long run between legal fees and the actual award. The mindset of the jurors is what makes it so risky to go to court. Just look at some of the awards you see jurors dish out sometimes. Billions to a man who smoked for 40 years and died a smoking related death. BILLIONS.


  9. mtnbktrek

    mtnbktrek Senior Member
    from NEPA
    Messages: 144

    I agree that if its all snow n ice lawsuits should be dismissed. On the same hand I do not think they should be allowed to sue the contractors customer being the contractor assumed the liability. I understand the "who has deeper pocket" stuff. Now I also agree that this stuff ought to be fought because it is the insurance companies who set the standard of "slip on ice in an ice storm and get a settlement" no questions asked. Maybe if more suits were argued less people would sue for stuff they shouldn't have a chance in hell winning- it costs both sides money not just the defendant.
  10. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    I was involved in a 5 year long slip and fall case that eventually was dismissed due to "questionable" circumstances. that was 5 years of hell. I hope no one goes through the constant worry of a case against you. Myself and my insurance attorney always believed it would be dismissed but you just never know and that's the anguishing part. Because we were fairly confident we had a good case I asked my insurance attorney not to settle for any amount but they refused. They did offer some sort of settlement in order to "gauge" what her attorney was thinking , moneywise, but nothing was ever paid out. So here's my question, ... wouldn't it be a great idea to say that if you file a slip and fall claim you are responsible for
    reimbursing the defendants legal fees if you lose ? I bet people would think harder about silly slip and falls.
  11. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,779

    There are slip and falls that are legitimate and damaging. The problem with the industry is that we hold the lowest rung on the ladder responsible after the highest rung has tied their hands with stipulations of service in order to lower costs.