Acadia Insurance Offers Snow Removal Best Practices for Contractors in the Northeast
(Nov. 19, 2012) – During the winter months in the Northeast, snow removal can be a great source of revenue. However, there are risks to performing this duty. That’s why Acadia Insurance is providing best practices to its snow removal contractor customers to help them reduce their exposure to loss. More specifically, Acadia recommends that all snow removal contractors implement service contracts with their snow plower customers. If you are a business owner that does not utilize service contracts, Acadia encourages you to do so.
“Contracts help to protect both you and your customer by clearly outlining the scope of the work that is to be performed,” said Jim Sievert, Assistant Vice President, Loss Control, Acadia Insurance. “Using clear service contracts and maintaining snow removal and customer logs is an effective way to manage the performance of your business and your reputation.”
Consequently, Acadia’s experts suggest that contracts be reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that the following items are covered:
- Scope of the work to be performed;
- Clear definition of specific areas to be plowed, shoveled and blown;
- Identification of any existing property defects;
- Definition for the timing of service;
- Inclusion of a property damage liability limitation or hold harmless;
- Requirement that property owner report any property damage to you within a specified time;
- Identification of the specific term of contract; and
- Appropriate indemnification/hold harmless provisions from the property owner
Sievert added that it is also helpful to have best practices in place for your employees while they are out on the job. These physical controls should be readily available and reinforced by the management team to help minimize the potential for loss. Acadia recommends that your employees understand and follow these best practices:
- View areas and take pictures of property prior to bad weather for your files. Mark objects that may be damaged or could damage your plow. Also have a camera in your vehicles to take pictures after service is provided.
- Install proper lighting on all vehicles including strobes and strong back up lights.
- Conduct thorough, pre-shift inspection checklists at least each shift.
- Have caution cones and tape in your vehicles to use for warnings or unexpected circumstances should an area need to be closed off.
- Place snow piles in areas away from pedestrian traffic and where backing can be minimized, and pay attention to areas of water drainage to watch for black ice. In addition, pay attention to the north side of objects or buildings and other shaded areas.
- Rest drivers who have operated or worked more than 14 hours
In addition, maintaining a snow removal log can be a strong risk management tool when recording the dates and times that the service was conducted for your customers in the event of a dispute.
“The snow removal log should include items such as driver name, time in, weather conditions, snow amount, lots plowed, amount of sand or salt applied and time out,” Sievert added. “If you subcontract some of the snow removal work, any subcontractor should keep the same type of log and be sent to you upon completion of work for your records.”
In the event of a complaint, Acadia also emphasizes that it is important to maintain a complaint log as the best way to track the status and resolution of the issue, as well as identify possible trends with customers or personnel to help minimize future complaints.
For more information on snow removal best practices and other winter risk management tips for your business, visit our loss control toolbox, or contact your local independent agent.
About Acadia Insurance
Acadia Insurance Group is a regional company offering commercial and specialty property casualty insurance coverages through independent insurance agents with local offices in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best, Acadia Insurance is a subsidiary of W. R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE: WRB), one of the nation’s premier commercial lines property casualty insurance providers, and one of the 50 largest diversified financial companies in the United States. Please visit www.acadiainsurance.com.