W^H? The Holmes Murphy Blog

  • It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Snow Plow Time

    It’s just a matter of time before snow coats the grass, sidewalks, streets, and parking lots in the Midwest. I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen much of anything to date. Though, in Iowa, just like in the states around us, it can be 60 degrees one day and snowing the next, which means now is as good of a time as any to talk about snow removal…a topic I think we’re all impacted by in one way or another.

    For purposes of this blog, I’m strictly talking about businesses who hire snow removal companies to clear the pathways and parking lots. Seems simple, right? Hire a company, have them clean off your lots and sidewalks, and boom…you’re good to go. Well, it’s really not that simple.

    Here’s where I’m going with this. What if one of the snow plows from the company you hired hits another vehicle in the parking lot and injures someone or does property damage? What if someone slips on an icy sidewalk while walking into your business? What happens if you get five inches of snow and the snow plows simply don’t show up? See what I’m talking about? There are a lot of factors to take into consideration this time of year. It’s important every business that hires snow removal contractors addresses risk management and insurance issues…specifically premises liability.

    As a first step and recommendation, we tell our clients to ensure they have a process in place when hiring and notifying snow removal contractors. Along with that, there are three important issues and main points to consider:

    • The contract you have in place with the snow plow contractor.
    • The insurance requirements in that contract.
    • How that contractor responds when the snow starts to fly and the timing of the removal.

    Contract

    For the contract portion, there should be an indemnity agreement where the snow plow contractor holds harmless the parking lot owner (you), agrees to indemnify you/your business, and also lists you/your business as an additional insured on a primary non-contributory basis. This goes back to what I mentioned regarding if property/vehicle damage were to occur as a result of something the snow plow driver did or if someone were to get hurt.

    Insurance Requirements

    As for insurance requirements, we recommend coverage to be shown on the Certificate of Insurance for general liability, auto liability, workers’ compensation, and umbrella liability. If you have any questions about this, I’d be happy to talk with you further. There are a lot of intricacies when it comes to insurance, so it’s best to talk with an insurance professional to ensure you’re covered appropriately.

    Timing

    Through best practices of our customers, we feel it’s best in order to limit liability that the responsibility is on the snow plow contractor to show up without being called when there is a minimum amount of snow that triggers them to show up. Usually, we recommend two inches.

    High-quality snow plow companies monitor the weather and will identify when the time is right/needed to engage their services at a particular location. So, keep this in mind when you’re in the hiring process. It may be best to go with a reputable snow plow company that has plows tailor made to handle your job.

    Other Recommendations

    We also suggest having a process in place for an employee (or the snow removal company) to be responsible for clearing the snow from the sidewalks and high-traffic walkways, and using ice melt where needed.

    As an insurance broker, we see the main issues with our customers when parking lots or walkways have snow and ice are the slips, trips, and falls that happen during or even after a snow or ice storm.

    So, before the snow starts flying, you may want to take a little time to ensure you’re prepared to handle any situations that may arise and have a comprehensive contract and risk management strategy in place.

    If you have any questions on how to create the strategy or would like someone to review your contract and insurance information, we’d be happy to help. Simply call or email!

    Published on: 12.07.17

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