We always clear our driveway and paths of snow in the winter to make it safe, especially if the grandparents are coming over. I’ve been thinking of getting someone to do it for me but am unsure how the insurance works. Do contractors need their own or do we get the cover?
Snow clearing contractors should have specific insurance cover for removing snow from a private driveway or public road, using either a snow blower or snow plough. If your contractor only has general liability insurance then consider adding snow clearing cover to your home policy to be safe.
Let’s explore this subject in more detail, and discover who needs the snow removal insurance and why – and also consider what an example snow removal contract should include…
What Insurance Is Needed To Plow Snow? (For Service Providers)
Most contractors already have general liability insurance. However, although this insurance is essential to protect you, your equipment, and any employees, it may not cover a specific snow plowing incident. So, you’re going to need to add snow plow insurance.
This will cover you for most snow plowing-related accidents. It will protect you from any injuries to people or property caused by your snow plowing business.
Speak to your insurer about how much it will cost to add on this specific element to your policy. Ask if it will cover the plow itself, any workers, your vehicle, and any accidents relating to your operation. Here’s an example. You’re engaged to plow a sidewalk. Someone still manages to slip on the snow or ice, and sues you for not doing a proper job.
Before you speak to your insurance provider, write down what your operation covers, so you can get a tailored policy. What will you be plowing? Residential driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, streets, commercial properties, the highway… All these different plowing tasks carry different risks.
What Are The Benefits To Homeowners of Contractors Having Snow Clearing Insurance?
Like any insured contractor, homeowners find it reassuring when their snow plow team is covered. The homeowner knows that there won’t be a long and unpleasant legal battle if anything is damaged: rather, it will be sorted out through the insurance.
A good policy should cover issues you and the homeowner may not have thought of. An example we heard of is of a contractor plowing the driveway of a property while the owner was away. The snow was pushed to one side, eventually melted, the snowmelt found its way into the building, and destroyed the flooring. If the resident wanted the contractor to pay for the clean-up and replacement costs, the insurance should cover this.
An insured contractor also looks more professional. You appear credible and trustworthy to potential clients, and it’s a good thing to be able to put on your information and advertising. If you want to branch out into commercial contracts, it’s good to already have insurance in place.
Will Contractors Have Their Own Snow Removal Insurance? (Or Do I Provide It?)
If you are hiring a contractor for any job that involves snow removal, they’ll need their own insurance. If you’re a contractor yourself and you’re taking on someone to help, first check that they’re covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s up to the person who owns the snow removal business, whether as a business or as a single trader, to sort out their own insurance.
When you take on a job, it’s useful to set out a written agreement for services (we’ll go through written agreements for snow removal contractors in more detail later on). This should include what you’re covered for, and of course, what you’re not.
Can I Put a Snow Plow On a Leased Truck? (To Clear Snow Myself)
If you’re the type who likes to do the job yourself (and we hear you!), are you allowed to attach your snow plow onto your leased truck? The answer varies, so you’ll need to speak with your lease company.
Many leases specify that you have to return the vehicle in the same condition as when you originally leased it. We know, it’s a truck not a sports car, so it’s going to get some wear and tear during its daily life. However, that’s not the same as damage.
So for many lease companies, you’d need to be able to guarantee you can get the plow on and off without causing any damage. The general consensus is that a plow shouldn’t change the warranty; however, always check first, just in case.
Now insurance… Plowing should be covered under personal motor insurance. There are two exceptions. Firstly, if your truck is leased by your employer or through your own business, you’ll need additional insurance to cover plowing. Secondly, if you accept payment for any plowing work, this won’t be covered by your usual motor insurance.
If this all sounds a bit risky, there’s another way… The good news is that in colder climates, there are rental companies that will lease you a proper, dedicated truck and plow setup. These arrangements are designed for contractors to use during the snow plowing season, in order to maximize their work capacity without having to purchase their own kit.
If you haven’t worked with a snow plow before, watch this clip from Heavy Metal Learning. They take you through the basics of operating a snow plow on a truck: really handy if you’re planning to expand your landscaping services and offer winter yard clearance.
How Do I Write a Snow Removal Agreement? (Contract Advice)
A snow removal contract is between you (the contractor) and the business or individual who needs the snow shifting. It’s a good idea to get things down in writing before you start, so both parties know what is and what isn’t expected.
Have a contract up and ready to go, so it’s there as soon as that snow storm hits. You’ll need to adapt it per job, but at least you have a template contract to work from.
What needs to go on your snow removal agreement? Here are the main points that it needs to include:
- Your business name and address
- The name and address of the client
- A description of the services you’re offering the client . You can set this up as a list that the client checks off. As well as snow plowing, this could include sanding the ground or any snow removal from the roof
- A more detailed description of the scope of the project (“clearing the driveway from the gate to the front doorstep, including the area under the carport”, “the hotel’s access road from the gate to the parking lot, both front and rear parking lots including pedestrian areas”)
- The snow event. This term refers to the agreed amount of snow that automatically generates a job for you. For example, you or your company may agree with the client to attend their property when the snow reaches a depth of x feet
- Your insurance details, and if something isn’t covered, make sure that’s clear here
- The cost of the job, sales tax, and how to pay. If you have a retainer, the agreed amount and the payment intervals
- Any other instructions or conditions. An example of this could be that the contractor won’t undertake the work until the snow has stopped falling (you won’t regret adding this one!), or that you will provide (and bill for) and sand that you use
You can download template snow removal contracts online if you want extra help with the wording. It’s worth getting your agreement checked over to make sure it’s in line with the law and your insurance policy / policies.
It’s worth spending time on this from the start, then you have a safe and binding document ready to go whenever you need it. After all, you never know when there could suddenly be an unseasonal blizzard and your services are in demand…
Unless you have a truck and want to attach your own snow plough to the front – or clear your driveway yourself with a snow blower – then you’re going to need a contractor to help you.
In addition to their general liability cover, all snow clearing contractors should definitely have specialist insurance – or you should add it to your homeowners policy to be sure you’re covered for accidents and potential claims against you.
I’ll probably get some extra snow clearing cover just to be safe – as I’ve always hated clearing the snow from the paths and drive and will get someone to help me this year! 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >