Is your snow management company operating as safely as it can be? One adviser that can help you assess your operations and serve as a risk/safety consultant is your insurance provider.
With the insurance marketplace trending toward increasing rates and tightening underwriting guidelines, insurance carriers are seeking to limit exposure to claims, which makes safety and risk management paramount.
“Many contractors are going to see, at the very least, an increase over last year, or at the very worst, a non-renewal letter from their present carrier,” said Robert Barresi, insurance broker for New England Heritage Insurance and a SIMA preferred provider. “It’s more important now than ever before to have a solid relationship with their insurance broker, because that will ultimately be the deciding factor as to whether a contractor is able to obtain the coverage it needs at a reasonable premium.”
Barresi encourages snow contractors to make the most of those relationships. Areas in which insurance providers should be able to help, include:
Contracts. Your insurance broker should review the contracts you are signing to ensure you’re protecting your company from uninsurable risk or restrictive wording that puts you at a disadvantage or greater risk of being found liable regardless of how conscientious you perform your work. Be sure the contracts you are signing are specific as to scope of work.
Vehicle fleet safety programs. Many agents or insurance carriers can provide this material. For an example, click here. Drivers should sign off on this program, and give you the ability to obtain and review their driving records with the agent on a periodic basis.
Safety personnel. Tap someone to be the safety foreman within the company, who will be the point person for insurance carrier loss control representatives, claim reporting and the first contact for the insurance agent when an issue arises.
Value-added services. Many insurance carriers offer driver training, hiring strategies, etc. See what programs might be available that can help you strengthen your processes.
Sample forms and agreements. Barresi provides clients with subcontractor agreements that contain the proper “risk transfer” terminology regarding waiver of subrogation, hold harmless agreement, and proper endorsements to be included on a certificate of insurance. He also provides a “sample certificate” to give to subcontractors that contains all the proper protections to insulate the snow-contractor from claims arising from subcontractors.
Greg Botson, president of Botson Insurance Group, said because of the unique nature of the snow industry, it’s important to work with the insurance provider to assess the following:
Insurance coverage. Contractors should make sure their insurance professional knows the snow industry and knows about their business and how to property protect the company’s assets through transfer of risk with insurance and other loss control measures.
Safety training. Your insurance professional should attend your safety meetings at least a few times per year and offer advice on how to reduce or eliminate claims. An evaluation of your claims for a 3- to 5-year period will paint a picture of where your attention need to be focused, whether its backing accidents or theft of equipment from job sites, for example. The provider can help create plans or tactics to reduce those claims.
Ken Bowman, commercial auto product manager at Progressive Insurance, said it’s important to focus on:
Vehicle maintenance programs/checklists. A series of equipment violations can cause insurance rates to go up, which often is the result of a lack of maintenance. Additionally, the consistent upkeep of your vehicle or vehicles is important from a safety perspective, preventing potential breakdowns and more expensive problems down the line.
Policy review and customer service. Talking to your insurer or agent about the right coverage can help identify different coverages and endorsements that will cover extra items in a variety of circumstances, including theft, fire or a crash. Ask whether your insurer offers 24/7 service, including roadside assistance. Having an expert ready to come out and service your truck whenever you need it will help give you confidence you’re safe on the road as you do your job.
Thank you to Snow Safety Week sponsor Progressive Insurance.