Why winter and ice insurance is so difficult – Landscape Management

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Ask Craig Lillis, president and owner GroundsCare Landscape in Somerville, NJ, if it’s been easy for him to get snow and ice insurance taken out of his business, and he’ll tell you it’s no walk in the park.

“We have a hard time finding just one solution,” he says. “We’re a good company. We don’t have a lot of claims. We do a lot of safety training. We focus on snow all year round. We do everything right, and last year, I had one option.”

GroundsCare Landscape offers commercial/construction, maintenance and irrigation services. Snow and ice removal is a major part of the business. Although his business does between $4 million and $6 million in snow jobs a year, his position is mainly in New Jersey, Lillis says.

“We’re paying $200,000 to $300,000, even if you get a policy,” he says.

Jared Perkoski, senior risk consultant and FBinsure in Taunton, Mass., says Lillis’ experience matches what he sees as an insurance agent.

“In the last few years with lawsuits, there have been many lawsuits that have been pushed to snow builders. Because of this responsibility, there will be many complaints because this responsibility continues to be pushed to the person who provides the service or their subcontractors,” he says, seeing the increase in complaints about the descent and the fall causes so that insurance premiums are higher.

How to avoid high fees

Perkoski says not all snow and ice suppliers will face the challenges of high costs and limited selection. It depends on how much business is in the snow and ice. Some jobs can turn snow and ice into whole businesses.

He said: “If you lose money, and if you don’t have a long history of losing money, then that will be a good sign for you if you are trying to get insurance,” he says. . “If 75 percent or 80 percent of your income comes from your property, that will be another sign.”

Another important factor is the type of products that the snow and ice management company handles. Big-box stores or 24-hour drug stores can make it difficult, but not impossible, he says, because of the potential risk and liability.

He said: “If you are only doing churches, hardware stores, businesses and office parks, then you will get the insurance and policy you already have. “That’s when most of your money comes out of the snow, you have a couple of $100,000s sitting there and then on top of that, you’re probably doing things that are high risk, you haven’t done anything to consolidate them. your property or another policy.”

From there, companies will need to look at the additional and additional market for snow policies, which may mean higher fees for assistance.

Some things to consider

Perkoski says contractors should consider ways to distinguish between snow and ice, such as the use of logging software, GPS-based and built-in weather systems. Ensuring that employees are certified by the Snow and Ice Management Association also helps. Those steps show the insurance underwriter’s job is to reduce risk.

“Go there, learn, invest in technology, convince your employees, it will all pay off in the long run,” he says.

It is also important for owners to consider the expiration date of the law. Perkoski encourages contractors to work with an insurance provider to make sure repairs come in at a time that doesn’t affect winter and ice.
“You don’t want to get hit with an insurance renewal on Jan. 1 because you’re going to be in the middle of your season,” he says.

Perkoski says a big jump in the middle of the season can be expensive and the contractor is left to absorb the cost, unable to pass that cost on to customers.

“August is like the last day we want to start doing this,” he says. “Typically, August is when landscapers start putting their snow and ice in. June or July is the sweet spot. They have a lot of income from mowing or digging, so they have a lot of money at that time.”