Why Snow Plow Liability has become Abominable
Winter will be here before you know it. In the Northeast, the winter months bring snow and ice that can unfortunately lead to slips and falls. If you are a property owner or a snow plow contractor, you can be held liable for injuries and need the proper levels of insurance protection.
A court case in 2010 changed Massachusetts legistlation that had been in effect for over a century, after a Danvers man slipped on ice outside a Target store and sued the store and its plowing company. The Supreme Court ruled that all property owners (owner occupied or rental) are legally obligated to keep their property free from snow and ice for the safety of visitors. Prior to the ruling, snow was considered “an act of God,” and everyone did their best by shoveling and plowing. People knew that snow is slippery and they exercised caution while traveling or walking during snowstorms.
The 2010 ruling holds property owners and their snow plow contractors liable for snow-related injuries — whether the plows have cleared the snow or not. While the law finds business owners and plow contractors can be held responsible if snow isn’t cleared off sidewalks and parking lots, it does not specify how quickly they’re required to remove the snow. Some cities and towns within Massachusetts have local ordinances with a minimum time by which snow must be cleared while others have not.
The Effects of the Ruling
The ruling has put an unreasonable amount of responsibility on snow plow contractors and property owners to provide a “slip-free” surface. Since the ruling, plow contractors and property owners have 100% liability for slip and fall accidents and as a result, litigation of slip and fall accidents has increased. Many insurance companies have paid out more in snow claims than they’ve collected in premiums, resulting in a very difficult market place. As a result, there are only a small amount of insurance carriers willing to offer snow plow liability, those who do are more discerning about which clients they will insure and the coverage is more expensive.
McSweeney & Ricci Can Help!
Dealing with the ramifications of the ruling, is where it’s imperative to have an experienced insurance agent in your corner, with access to multiple markets. McSweeney & Ricci Insurance represents more insurance companies than most agencies our size, which allows us to select the best combination of coverage at competitive rates. For more information on snow plow liability coverage contact us at 844-501-1359.
If your business handles plowing and snow removal, (even on the side), you need the proper levels of insurance protection to protect your vehicles and other aspects of your business. When it comes to snow plow insurance coverage, there are more factors involved than just paying a premium to obtain coverage. Snow plow liability is usually required by law and detailed in snow removal contracts. To protect yourself and your business, you need an insurance agent with expertise in:
- reading snow removal contracts
- liability of property owners
- liability of snow removal contractors
- changes in legislation regarding snow removal
McSweeney & Ricci has partnered with the top insurance carriers and can offer your business a full range of commercial insurance products including business auto, general liability, worker’s compensation, and completed operations coverage. Our Commercial Insurance Division has over fifty years of expertise insuring snow plow contractors and businesses and keeps current on all issues surrounding snow plow liability insurance. For more information on Snow Plow Insurance for your business contact us at (844) 501-1359.