A Guide to Snow Removal Insurance in Ontario and Bill 118
In Canada, there are over 40,000 snow removal contractors that help to keep roads, parking lots, and walkways safe during the country’s harsh winters. In fact, the private snow removal industry is worth around $4.7 billion.
Suffice to say, this industry is lucrative for savvy business owners and dedicated employees that serve under it. But just like most other business landscapes in modern times, competition in the snow removal industry can be tough.
This is why no business can afford the hassle, cost, and overall damage from lawsuits and other risks. However, adequate snow removal insurance in Ontario has been challenging to find. Bill 118 Ontario could be able to change all that.
This article covers the fundamentals about snow removal insurance and the impact of Bill 118 on snow removal liability.
What Is Snow Removal Insurance and What Does It Cover?
Snow removal insurance is a specialized type of insurance for snow removal businesses. Its coverage can vary depending on the needs and preferences of the business. However, at its core, snow removal insurance plans have commercial general liability (CGL) coverage which protects the snow removal business from instances such as:
- Third-party injury in connection to business operations or mistakes therein;
- Third-party injury within business premises; and
- Third-party property damage due to business operations.
Because snow removal is considered a high-risk industry, business owners can also get added protection from other risks by bundling CGL insurance with other coverages, such as the following:
- Equipment & Tools Insurance
- Commercial Auto Insurance / Fleet Insurance
- Commercial Property Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance / Personal Coverage
For more information about how to do this, read this article on why you should bundle your insurance policies.
Why Do Snow Removal Businesses Need Insurance?
Snow removal is a risky industry which makes insurance all the more necessary. Every season, snow removal contractors face the following potential hazards:
Even with clear skies, snow removal involves low visibility work. The blanket of snow conceals most of the topography and/or outdoor fixtures. Not only can this cause worker injury, but it can also lead to third-party property damage. Even a poorly placed cluster of snow can create a blind spot that can result in a vehicular collision and other accidents.
Worker Injury or Illness
The fact that snow shovelling related deaths happen in Canada every year shows us just how physically demanding snow removal can be. This is because physically strenuous work is done in sub-zero temperatures which constrict the blood vessels. Although snow removal contractors use more sophisticated snow plows for larger areas, smaller areas would need the finesse of shovels or snow blowers; both of which are more strenuous to use.
Slips and Falls
The Canadian Institute of Health Information published a recent study showing that one-third of E.R. injuries are due to accidental falls. And from this portion, a whopping 8,800 cases were due to slipping on ice.
In addition, hospital stays tend to be far longer for slip-and-fall accidents that involve ice. This means that injuries sustained tend to be more severe and this makes injured parties more inclined to press charges against the snow removal contractor in charge of the area. Lawsuits concerning slips and falls could get even more complicated when a senior citizen or person with a disability is involved because their injuries would typically be more severe.
The Challenges of Getting Snow Removal Insurance
Not Enough Companies and Brokers are Willing to Provide Insurance for Snow Removal Businesses
Many insurance companies and insurance brokers refuse to draft an insurance plan for snow removal businesses because of its high-risk nature. One of the risks that have caught everyone’s attention is that of slip-and-fall liabilities.
As we talked about earlier, a snow removal company can be liable for slips and falls. These accidents may result from mistakes on the side of the snow removal contractor. However, even when snow removal is done with due diligence, unpredictable weather patterns can still result in slips and falls.
Snow Removal Insurance Has Had a Trend of Rising Premiums and Limited Coverage
Because snow removal insurance is relatively uncommon, premiums tend to be higher. In fact, rising premiums for snow removal insurance is a well-known trend in recent years.
Furthermore, some of the remaining snow removal insurance policies come with a clause that places full liability on the snow removal contractor for slip-and-fall accidents.
The Impact of Bill 118 Ontario on Snow Removal Insurance
The status quo before the passing of Bill 118 Ontario is that snow removal businesses had few insurance options, steep premiums, and limited coverage. Sadly, some regions in Canada don’t even offer this type of insurance for snow removal contractors.
Therefore, snow removal businesses were compelled to either adapt to the high costs of limited insurance, go about their operations uninsured, or shut down.
So how can Bill 118 change all this?
From 2-Year Notice to a 60-Day Notice For Intent to Sue
The changed timeframe for filing the notice for intent to sue is the highlight of Bill 118 Ontario. Though this may not look like much at first glance, this change has a tremendous impact on snow removal business liability.
Before Bill 118, claimants (people who suffer slip-and-fall injuries) can file their notice to sue within a lengthy two-year period. When this happens, claimants are poised to sue with complete documents while the defendants (the snow removal businesses) could be blind-sighted by the sudden claim and may not have (or no longer have) strong proof to defend themselves.
Now that the notice to sue needs to be filed within 60 days, snow removal businesses will be in a better position to defend themselves against possible false or invalid claims. Within 60 days of an incident, the employees are most likely to be the same people and they would have a fresher memory of what transpired.
A Possibility of More Insurance Options and/or Lower Premiums
The change brought about by Bill 118 can hopefully result in more insurance options and/or lower premiums for snow removal businesses. Only time will tell how long this will take and to what extent the changes will occur.
Personalized Snow Removal Insurance That You Can Count On
Here at Contractors Insurance, we specialize in putting together personalized insurance plans for various businesses, including those operating in the snow removal industry. Because we’ve been in business for years, we understand the challenges of getting a fitting snow removal insurance plan. But with our team’s dedication, expertise, and connections, we will be able to find the best option for you.
Our insurance experts are here to make insurance hassle-free every step of the way. You can count on our constant support in negotiating premiums, updating your insurance, following up on claims, and more.
If you would like to learn more or get started, contact us today!