If your business includes plowing snow, you need snow plow insurance coverage to protect your equipment — and your livelihood. You provide a valuable service to businesses and individuals in your community. However, in spite of your best efforts and safety precautions, accidents can occur.
Weather conditions may make visibility difficult and road conditions hazardous. Making matters worse, snow plow machinery is heavy equipment, typically weighing 15 times more than the average car. When an accident occurs or the plow causes damage to someone else’s property, the resulting losses can be substantial.
What Snow Plow Insurance Covers
An insurance policy for snow removal activities is generally stand-alone coverage you purchase in addition to commercial auto insurance. Typically, snow plow insurance includes coverage for businesses engaged in clearing:
- Retail parking lots
- Apartment building parking lots
- Private roads
Understanding Coverage Options
Insurance coverage for snow removal should be designed to include the following components.
Collision and Comprehensive Coverages
First, you need collision and comprehensive coverage for the plowing equipment itself, so that if a loss occurs, you have insurance protection for your investment.
Collision coverage will pay to repair or replace your plow or equipment if is damaged in a covered accident. Comprehensive coverage will cover damage to your snow plow if it is damaged in some other way. Plows and plowing equipment can be expensive; an uninsured loss could be significant for almost any business. Having collision and comprehensive coverage can provide needed peace of mind.
The second component is liability coverage. If your snow plow damages someone else’s vehicle or other property or injures someone, your liability protection can limit your out-of-pocket costs by paying for the damage and medical expenses of the injured party. These coverages are referred to as “property damage” and “bodily injury” protection.
Your liability insurance will also cover the costs of defending against a lawsuit brought by someone claiming they were injured or their property was damaged by your plowing activities. Coverage may be available for $1 million or more, although your snow plow liability limits must be similar to your commercial auto liability limits.
- Coverage Is Not Optional. Your state’s laws probably mandate that you purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance for your snow plow. In addition, the legal contracts you have with the individuals or businesses that hire you to perform snow removal may also include stipulations requiring you to have adequate insurance coverage.
- Various Types of Vehicles Can Be Covered. You may be able to purchase snow-plow insurance protection for plows, trucks, pickup trucks and different types of trailers. Generally speaking, coverage is limited to trucks with front-mounted snow plows.
- Limit Costs in the Off-Season. Snow plow equipment is typically only used in the winter months. You can limit your insurance costs by just maintaining your comprehensive coverage in the off-season when your equipment is stored. You’ll have coverage in case something happens while your vehicles are in storage but won’t be paying for liability coverage you don’t need.
- Coverage May be Available for Lost Income. If your business depends on income earned from snow-plowing activities, you may want to consider adding coverage to protect that income. If there is a covered loss that makes your snow-plowing equipment unusable for a period of time, insurance protection could help keep your business afloat until your plow is operational again.
- Don’t Rely on Individual Auto Policies. Even if snow removal is not your primary business, and clearing snow for other people or other businesses is just an occasional activity, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your personal auto insurance policy will cover losses. Generally speaking, commercial plowing activities are not covered under individual policies. While you may not need a separate snowplow policy, you need commercial auto coverage.
How to Buy Snow Plow Insurance
It is important to have adequate insurance protection in place before you begin using snow removal equipment, to comply with the law and to protect yourself and your business against potential losses.
When evaluating how much coverage you need, start with the minimum amount you are required to carry by law or contractually (whichever is higher). Understand that the minimum amount may not be enough to protect you if a loss occurs. Talk to your insurance professional about your needs. He or she will need to know how many snow plows your business operates, how many commercial drivers work for you and how much financial loss your company could stand to absorb.
Work with a commercial insurance provider that regularly handles commercial auto and liability policies to ensure your agent has the experience, knowledge and resources to provide the protection you need. Not every insurance carrier or agent offers snow plow insurance; KORE Insurance Holdings understands the unique risks snow removal businesses face and helps commercial clients obtain the coverage they need.
Protect Your Business From Unforeseen Losses
If your business involves snow or ice removal, it’s important to inspect your snow plow equipment and ensure your employees know how to operate it safely and effectively in all kinds of weather conditions. You should also ensure you have adequate insurance protection in place so that if an accident or another loss occurs, your business can weather the consequences.