05 Jan Everything You Need to Know About Snowplow Insurance in Massachusetts
Everything You Need to Know About Snowplow Insurance in Massachusetts
Another New England winter has arrived and, if you live in the area, then we’re sure you know the drill – decreasing temps, bulky jackets, shorter days and the constant threat of a snowstorm, are what we have to look forward to over the next few months! However, just because winter is already here doesn’t mean it’s too late to prepare for what the season has in store for us. As your local, knowledgeable insurance agent, ICNE, Insurance Center of New England wants to ensure that you haven’t missed any important winter readiness steps.
While there is much to consider when it comes to protecting your home, vehicle, and family against the harsh elements of winter, in this post, we’ve decided to focus on something that you may not have given much thought to in the past, but that deserves your attention. If you add a snowplow to your personal vehicle during the winter months, then it’s critical that you understand that the type of auto insurance that you need changes the moment you add that apparatus to your truck.
Thinking About Plowing Snow As a Side Gig?
Some drivers make a little extra money by using their personal vehicles to ride-share, while others have hopes of earning some additional bucks using their own cars to deliver packages for Amazon. In New England, there’s certainly another lucrative option for vehicle owners – adding a plow to your truck and digging out homeowners and business owners from mountains of snow!
However, if you’re already snow plowing for others or just considering starting something small on the side, then you know that it’s a lot more complicated than just buying and adding a plow to your personal truck. There’s a lot to consider, including finding the right equipment, understanding vehicle repair costs, determining the rates you will charge, and figuring out if the long days and nights that come with plowing are worth any profit you might make.
Even if you’ve gone through the checklist of things that need to be done and you’re ready to start dropping flyers off in your neighbors’ mailboxes, there’s one very important item that you want to make sure you’ve got covered. It’s ICNE’s job, as your trusted insurance agent, to remind you about the importance of having sufficient insurance when considering this business venture.
Driving in the snow is no easy task so it should come as no surprise that operating a vehicle with a plow carries increased risk for a possible motor vehicle accident and property damage. Therefore, if you are considering offering snow plow services, for profit or not, it is of the utmost importance that you have the necessary insurance in place to make sure you are adequately covered. Trust us, we’d much rather see you spend that hard-earned money on cool gadgets or a family vacation than on costly repairs, or worse, on an accident caused by you or someone else when you are out plowing this year.
This is why your knowledgeable ICNE team has compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked insurance questions about snowplows, and provided you with our professional advice, in order to help you spend your winter plowing and worry-free.
The First Step In The Snowplow Insurance Process in Massachusetts
Whether this is a new business or something you’ve dabbled in for a while, congratulations on deciding to run your own snow plowing venture. First things first, it’s important that you give your ICNE insurance agent a call and let them know the exact kind of snow plow services you will be providing this season because there can be very different risks working on a residential property versus a commercial one.
For example, when plowing a residential property, you may be worried about damaging your customer’s mailbox or garage, whereas, at a commercial property, a freestanding light post or carport structure might be the biggest plowing obstacles you face and hard to avoid. In addition, your overall exposure to risk and liability is increased when plowing for commercial clients. You may think you’re already prepared for risks associated with motor vehicle accidents and property damage. But you may not be aware that you are also exposing yourself to possible legal liability claims related to personal injuries suffered from a slip and fall, even if the incident occurs well after you’ve properly plowed, spread salt and left the premises.
Personal Insurance Versus Commercial Insurance For Your Snowplow
Whether you’re plowing for profit, or just to have something to do this winter, sufficient insurance is an absolute must. The level of insurance you need will ultimately be determined by the type of plowing you anticipate doing.
Plowing for Personal Use
If you plan to plow your own driveway or walkway, you’ll be happy to know that your personal auto insurance policy will likely provide sufficient coverage. Most personal auto policies consider a snowplow to be a customized or specialized piece of equipment, which is covered under a traditional auto policy; however, the damage this specialized piece of equipment may cause is not. To properly protect yourself, your truck and your property from damage, you should consider adding an endorsement to your standard policy. ICNE recommends that you list your truck or SUV for Business Use (or as a commercial vehicle) on your personal auto policy. That way, in the event of an accident at your home or a family member’s that causes damage to your property or someone else’s, and/or to your truck or plow, you should be adequately covered.
Plowing for Profit
As we previously mentioned, when plowing with the goal of making some extra income, whether it’s in a residential neighborhood or a commercial lot, your exposure to risk is high. Thus, it is essential to make sure you have the proper coverage for yourself and the new business you created. Since most personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage for vehicles used for business purposes, purchasing a commercial auto insurance policy for your snow removal business will not only provide you with higher liability limits than a standard personal policy, but is also a requirement of owning these types of business vehicles.
Plus, having the proper insurance is critical for landing those snow plowing jobs since most people and companies will only hire you if you provide them with a certificate of insurance. This standardized insurance document provides evidence that the minimal insurance coverages and limits have been purchased by you, the contractor, or your business. This certificate of insurance can only be generated from a commercial policy.
In addition, perhaps the number one reason you need to work with your ICNE agent on getting the correct insurance is that the state of Massachusetts legally requires anyone operating a vehicle with a plow on public roadways to carry a commercial auto policy. Even more, if you are planning on applying for a city or town plowing contract or permit in Massachusetts, you will likely have to present a certificate of insurance, which, as discussed above, can only be produced from a commercial auto policy. Contract and permit requirements will vary by location, so please visit your local town website or city hall for more specific information.
Whether you are an established business owner or just someone who plans to plow occasionally, ICNE recommends the following commercial auto insurance coverages, when you’re plowing for a profit:
- Liability Insurance provides Bodily Injury and Property Damage protection.
- Bodily Injury could pay for medical expenses of injured parties as well as legal fees that may result from an accident.
- Property Damage could pay to repair and replace property damaged by an accident.
- Collision may cover repairs or replacement to your snowplow if damaged in an accident.
- Comprehensive may cover repairs or replacement to your snowplow if damaged in a non-collision related incident.
- Completed Operations Coverage should cover you in case someone attempts a claim against you for a personal injury event, like a slip and fall. A standard commercial auto policy does not include this additional coverage, but ICNE strongly recommends our snowplow operators add it to their policy to potentially avoid paying thousands of dollars out of pocket for legal defense fees and hospital expenses in the event of a claim.
Four Tips To Prepare Your Personal Vehicle for Plowing This Winter
As mentioned at the start of this blog, it’s never too late to protect yourself, your family, or your home and vehicles against the winter. So, in addition to providing you with key insurance insights for your snow plow, our team also wants to share some easy-to-follow tips to help you safeguard your plow during this particularly treacherous season:
Tip #1 - Be Familiar with Your Work Environment
This includes surveying your clients’ property for possible objects that could damage your truck or plow such as broken curbs, speed bumps, potholes, etc. Before a big storm, stake reflective snow poles around the perimeter of your clients’ properties to properly mark roadways, hazards, landscaping, etc. which will help minimize the likelihood of property damage.
Tip #2 - Properly Maintain Your Truck or Plow.
It is important to have your truck and/or plow professionally checked at the start of each season to ensure that your vehicle is in good working condition. Before heading out to plow, always visibly inspect your plow, as well as the hitching mechanism, for any signs of damage, such as cracked welds or hydraulic fuel leaks.
Tip #3 - Rest Up!
The Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep a night for adults ranging 18-64 years old. Snow plowing often requires long days and late nights and drowsy driving is a real concern. Signs of fatigue include having a hard time paying attention to the road, slow reaction time, or inability to make the right decisions, so getting adequate sleep to make sure you are alert and attentive behind the wheel is a good idea. You can also plow with a buddy who can help make sure that you stay awake and take breaks as needed.
Tip #4 – Don’t Ever Drive Uninsured or Underinsured
Even if you think you have the right insurance for your snowplow, there’s no time like today to let a professional make sure that you are properly covered for all of the unique risks of plowing. Remember, your snowplow business operation is not covered under a standard personal auto insurance policy so ICNE urges you to contact a member of our commercial insurance team who can ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for plowing this winter.
Ready To Talk Insurance For Your Snowplow?
If you are ready for a more personal relationship with a trusted insurance agent who can help you protect you, your loved ones, and your prized snow plow this winter, and in any season, call ICNE today at (800) 243-8134 or stop into any one of our three convenient Massachusetts offices.