For some, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” for reasons worth singing about, but for others, winter in the Northeast hits a sour note. Snow, ice and freezing temperatures are more than just uncomfortable, they come with responsibilities like shoveling, salting, and in some cases, snowplowing.
Home and small business owners are responsible for keeping their property well-maintained after a snowstorm or risk liabilities such as slips, falls and other damages. And operating a snowplow can be a risk in and of itself.
So, whether you operate a snowplow as a part-time winter gig or are simply a bystander watching the plow rumble by from the warmth of your home or office, it’s helpful to know about snowplowing risks and how your insurance can protect you.
If you have any questions about your insurance coverage, a knowledgeable AAA Insurance agent can guide you. You can even meet “face to face” with virtual video appointments.
Snowplowing Risks for Homeowners
Snowplows are huge, heavy pieces of equipment that have the ability to wreck anything in their path – that includes your mailbox, curbs, car, lawn and sprinkler heads.
To prevent anything other than snow from getting plowed on your property, pull your car as far into your driveway as possible and off the apron and put tall, brightly colored stakes to indicate where sprinkler heads, curbs and other buried items are located.
Are You Covered?
In most cases your homeowners policy will cover damage caused by a plow. But if your insurance agent reviews your claim and determines that it could have easily been prevented – like if your car was parked in the street at a time when it shouldn’t have been, or your mailbox was less than the U.S. Postal Service-recommended 6”-8” from the curb – you’re on your own.
Depending on what was a damaged, you may also want to reach out to your city or town, which sometimes have insurance policies to protect property they may own, like sidewalks and curbs.
Snowplowing Risks for Small Businesses
For small businesses, snowplowing risks vary as each state, municipality and carrier handles snow removal slightly differently.
Are You Covered?
Landscapers, contractors, property managers, retail business owners, building lessors and dining establishments are some of the types of businesses that need to think about snowplowing coverage.
What if you attach a plow to your personal truck to clear snow for yourself and neighbors? Whether or not you charge for the service, you do not necessarily need a business auto liability policy. Your personal auto policy will likely still cover you. If you are using a private car less than 10 thousand pounds to plow for other businesses, your agent may recommend adding an endorsement to your auto policy for a small premium that would specify that the vehicle is used for business part-time.
If you plow for a town or business that requires additional insurance, then you will need a business auto liability policy. But not to worry, your premium should not increase by much if at all, as insurance companies recognize that snowplowing is a limited-time operation.
A business auto policy should provide physical damage coverage for the plow itself as long as the vehicle it is attached to also has physical damage coverage. However, it will not cover any slips, falls or other injuries that happen after you have finished plowing. You would need separate general liability coverage for that.
For any questions about snowplowing risks and small business insurance in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, schedule a call – or video call – with the AAA Insurance commercial team.
Do you plow for neighbors or as a side business in the winter? Tell us in the comments.