Business Insurance in the Winter
Winter can be a difficult time for business owners. Some small business owners struggle to get customers and clients still in the door with snow and ice being an issue on the roads. Others may be dealing with an off-season altogether, and lastly, for some it has been such a busy time it’s almost difficult to keep up (we are thinking of you plow truck drivers). No matter what category your small business falls under this time of year or how snow and ice affect your business, be sure your business insurance is matching up with your needs.
- Busy Season for Plow Drivers
- Slippery Snow & Ice at Your Business
Busy Season for Plow Drivers
Do you own plow trucks? If your small business works plowing in the winters, it’s important you have the business auto insurance you need. No matter how seasoned the driver, the conditions this year is terrible. Extra narrow roads, snow piles, and black ice make for terrible driving conditions, especially for those with a wide plow attached. The first thing to do before you hit the road or if you have any doubts at all about your business insurance coverage is to call your agent.
Some of the coverages you have with your business auto policy limits are:
- If plow jockey plows down a mail box or a fence you would have the coverage for property damage to other people’s belongings.
- If plow jockey plows into another vehicle either moving or stationary you would once again property damage coverage on the auto policy.
- If plow jockey plows into people you would have bodily injury coverage on your business insurance auto policy.
- Auto coverage applies to the damage done to others or others’ belongings while in the act of plowing or driving
In addition to the above accidents that may take place while they are on the road, there is also added completed operations coverage you can get. This could help cover your employees and your company in the event that they finish plowing, salting, or sanding, but an accident occurs after they have left. If your employee/company is held liable for that incident, this coverage would help pay for medical costs and things of that nature. This is a situation where you may want to look into extra business liability coverage for your business if you feel your business could be vulnerable. Not all commercial general liability policies cover snow plowing operations; check your policy to be sure.
Many snow plowing contractors can have very late hours and are sometimes working throughout the day and night. Be sure that you and your employees are you keeping hydrated and staying alert when out on the roads. That alone could help save accidents from occurring.
Slippery Ice at Your Business
Business owners may find themselves responsible from clearing walkways, shoveling pathways, and even clearing ice dams. While it may depend on who owns your building and things like that, as a business owner it is safe to assume you want to do everything you can to protect your customers and help get them in the door with the recent conditions. Avoiding trip & fall injuries by properly sanding or salting the cleared areas especially in places like parking lots and sidewalks is one of the most important things any business owner can be doing right now.
Have you hired someone to do this for your business? If you are hiring contractors to plow, shovel, sand etc. be sure those businesses have the proper insurance coverage. Any experienced contractor will be willing to answer questions about proper insurance coverage such as how much liability, commercial auto, workers compensation and umbrella coverage their business has. Are you requiring Certificates of Insurance with additional Insured coverage? This may be something that is worth doing, for the peace of mind it could offer to you.
Another thing to consider is to be keeping separate receipts for the snow removal operation for audits and business purposes. After the snow goes away and it is time to take a look at your business expenses, it’s best practices as an owner to keep all of this on hand.
Snow & Commercial Property
Contractors should have procedures in place for major storms to stay on top of heavy snow fall. Do you have the proper coverage to insure your business assets and not just the minimum limits? Whether you own the building your business is in or you are a commercial property owner, you should make regular inspections of all roof surfaces for buildup of snow loads. Heavy, wet snow is of particular concern and hazard.
Do not just inspect via drive-by as drifted snow can build up in valleys. When removing the snow be sure to wear a roof harness to ensure safety while walking on the roof or hire a professional with a bucket truck to be worked from. In addition to issues of collapse it is important to keep roof free from snow and ice to ensure no falling that can do bodily injury to those walking past the buildings. In the event that this happens, you would need to be sure you had the necessary commercial property coverage, for the building, and the necessary liability with your business portfolio to cover accidents to those while on your property.
In addition the issue of snow build-up, consider any unused spaces that can be colder than the occupied parts of a building. Maintain adequate heat in all spaces occupied and unoccupied to prevent pipe freezing that can lead to significant damage. Sprinkler systems need to be inspected regularly to be sure that they operate properly in all temperatures.
From peak season to doing what you can to maintain business in what can be a lull, be sure you have all of the commercial insurance you need to keep your customers, employees, and company safe. Winter can be a tough time for New England and given the snow we have been dealing with this year, it could be more difficult than usual. Having the right coverage and hiring experienced contractors to help deal with and prevent snow and ice issues is key.
If you have questions, call us at 888.865.1244. Snow, rain or shine our commercial lines staff is here to help protect you and your business.Read More