If you are a contractor who also plows snow for public or private entities, there are a few things you should know before you start plowing this winter.
Your automobile insurance policy will provide you with liability coverage — bodily injury and damage to the property of others — while you are actually plowing. And hopefully (keep reading), your general liability policy covers you once you have finished the work. That is, it provides coverage for suits regarding slips and falls resulting from any alleged poor plowing claims that might come.
Massachusetts courts used to have a high bar for proof of negligence before these types of slip-and-fall claims could proceed. “As a pedestrian in New England, you should know it snows and the ground is slippery, plowed or not!” Recently the bar has been lowered, however, allowing these types of claims to proceed at a lower threshold of negligence. Not good for the snow plow operator.
Plowing for a private entity is riskier than plowing for a governmental entity because it is harder to sue a public entity and those working for them. However, the shopping mall operator and his contractors are fair game.
Don’t assume your general liability policy covers you for these slip-and-fall claims. Many contractors’ general liability policies exclude, by endorsement, snow-plowing operations. In this case, you would need to purchase this coverage separately. Always check with your broker to see if you are covered!
At Cleary, we will evaluate your business exposures and work with you to develop a comprehensive plan to safeguard your business. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700.