It is time for spring cleaning, putting away the snow removal equipment and gearing up for the next season of work. Many snow removal businesses have already started to work in other industries and on finding additional work for their summer crews. This time of the year is vastly important to shore up the winter’s activity and properly close out the season. Here are a few end-of-the-season tips that can help save your business future headaches or surprises… like a costly insurance premium hike.
1. Clean out the open claims bin. In the event that your winter operations caused property damage or raised other liability situations, it is always best to have a claims review meeting with your insurance agent. These meetings help to close out any open claims, and review open reserves and outstanding claims that may have been sat on during the hectic winter. This practice will greatly reduce the amount of money the insurance company has to keep in a “reserve” to settle any disputes and will allow your loss ratios to drop, which will increase your all over account profitability in the eyes of the insurance company. These actions help to increase the chance of a favorable renewal.
2. Learn from past mistakes. Sadly, we all have to admit, we are not perfect when it comes to snow removal. For any claims that are filed, it is very important to take the time to review and refresh your drivers and employees on any accidents that occurred and how they could have been prevented. Most of the time, this will help to uncover training opportunities and additional safety concerns to consider for the next season. This information will also provide invaluable feedback to your managers on jobsite maintenance and high-risk areas. Setting aside the time once a year to compile a list of claims for all to review can be difficult but it can also be provided as a value by your insurance agent. Many agencies utilize risk management tools to help identify trends and help with corrective actions.
3. Identifying trends within claims. To help improve our results and continue as a “best-in-class” service provider, it is extremely important that you review the claims data, near misses and any problems you have had throughout the season to identify any repeats or trends within the claims. Often, claims are attributed to the same driver, same location or jobsite, and the same overall action or service being provided. Taking action on these high-risk areas or individuals can be just what you need to avoid costly repeat claims or avoid a massive catastrophe. Adding additional training to prevent problematic results can help your agent argue that you have corrected the claims issue and secure a favorable renewal. This practice wills aide your business in reducing its annual claims year-over-year, which also helps to reduce your insurance rates over time.
4. Equipment inspection. To avoid any summer production delays or problems entering next year’s snow season, I highly recommend having all of the snow removal equipment cleaned and inspected before storage. Most claims over the spring and summer come from equipment breakdowns. Having a simple maintenance program to clean and inspect your equipment between seasons will reduce the risk for future losses and claims.
5. Celebrate another season finished. The ability to look back on another successful winter season should always be a cultural milestone. A special event or incentive for your crews can help them keep safety and a claims-free culture front of mind. Advertise this reward to your entire staff, and have a tiered system just in case you fall a little short of the lofty “zero claims” goal. Then celebrate with everyone since you have survived another snow removal season.
Jack Demski is a licensed commercial insurance advisor with Ansay & Associates, specializing in risk management for snow and land contracting. Contact him at Jack.Demski@ansay.com or (414) 491-5918.