Best Practices for Snow Removal Contractors
Many snow-removal contractors in New England are small companies or people who choose to do snow removal on the side. Because of this, many don’t realize how important it is to have the proper insurance coverage and an official snow removal contract in place.
A removal contract is a set-it-and-forget-it way of dealing with snowfall. They’re worth the investment, especially in our region, where we experience five + months of winter weather during the year.
So, whether you are removing snow on a residential or commercial property, you should have written contracts in place with all customers. Here’s an example of what these contracts should cover:
- Scope of the work to be performed (e.g. “when X inches or more of snow has accumulated as measured by the contractor at the pavement, not to include drifts”)
- Define specific areas to be plowed, shoveled and blown (schematics recommended and include pictures)
- Identification of any existing property defects
- Definition for the timing of service (i.e. you should specify your availability)
- Inclusion of a property damage liability limitation or hold harmless (e.g. “damage to landscaping caused by piling of snow”)
- The requirement that the property owner-report any property damage to you within a specified time
- Identification of the specific term (e.g. from 10/1/22 to 3/1/23)
- Appropriate indemnification/hold harmless provisions from the property owner
As with any contract, read it carefully and consult with your legal counsel before you sign.
Documentation is vital to your snow removal business. If you want to keep your liability down, you need to document every time you drive onto your customer’s property. Here are some of most important items you should be documenting:
- Snow Removal Logs: Maintaining a snow removal log to be completed by the person responsible for removing the snow/ice. The log should include items such as: driver name, time in, weather conditions, snow amount, lots plowed, amount of sand or salt used, time out. If you subcontract some of the snow removal work, any subcontractor should keep the same type of log, to be sent to you within a specified time after completion of work.
- Sidewalk Logs: Maintaining sidewalk logs to be completed by the person responsible for removing/treating the snow/ice. This should include the same elements noted above.
- Complaint Logs: Maintaining a complaint log to be completed in the event either property damage or bodily injury occurs.
- Pictures Tell A Thousand Words: It is a good practice for you, your employees or your subcontractors to take pictures of the property after the snow removal is complete. If the quality of your work ever comes into question, then you have clear documentation and pictures to reference and attest to the job completed.
When it comes to insurance coverage for your snow removal business, it is important to consult your insurance agent to make sure you have the appropriate coverage. Many times, people think if they do snow removal on the side it is covered under the personal auto policy but that’s NOT always the case.
Additionally, if you plan to hire subcontractors to perform any part of the snow removal for your customers, you should have a contractual risk transfer program in place. This should include elements such as:
- • Signed contracts for all subcontracted work which include all elements that are contained within your contract with the property owner.
- An acceptable hold harmless / indemnification agreement in your favor.
- Requirement to name you as an additional insured under general liability and commercial motor vehicle insurance policies for both ongoing operations and completed operations on a primary and non-contributory basis.
- Specification subcontractor cannot further subcontract or assign the work to another without your prior written consent.
- Certificates or other proof of insurance should be obtained from subcontractors, before the job commences with stated minimum limits of liability
- A diary system in place to track expiration dates for certificates of insurance.
- A subcontractor selection process.
- Requirement that the subcontractor maintain a snow removal log to be completed by the person responsible for removing the snow/ice. The log should include items such as: driver name, time in, weather conditions, snow amount, lots plowed, amount of sand or salt used, time out.
- Requirement that the subcontractor maintain sidewalk snow removal log to be completed by the person responsible for removing the snow/ice. This should include the same elements noted above.
- Requirement that the subcontractor maintain a complaint log to be completed in the event either property damage or bodily injury occurs.
This article is an adaptation of an article provided to us by Acadia Insurance. Re-worded by: Josh Tefft
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