Insurance and Your Snow Plow in Massachusetts

Top 5 Questions about Snow Plows

From Commerce Insurance Company

As the winter weather approaches, we would like to share some of the most common questions asked by our commercial customers who plow or remove snow as part of their business.

Question: I have a plow on my light truck and plan to clear snow. Do I need a Business Auto liability policy?

Answer: Not necessarily. A snow plow or other detachable equipment does not disqualify a risk from a Personal Auto Policy even if the insured is paid for services. If your customer is an individual, a personal policy with class 30 may be appropriate.

Question: I plow for the town and businesses that require additional insured status. Do I need a Business Auto liability policy?

Answer: Yes. Regardless of the weight or ownership of the vehicle, an additional insured cannot be added to a Personal Auto Policy. A Business Auto policy should be used. The Enhancer endorsement automatically added to your voluntary policies for no additional fee includes additional insured status when required by written contract. The MM9950 can be added to include additional insured status to voluntary policies where no written contract exists or for ceded policies with or without a written contract.

Question: Will the premium increase on my Business Auto Policy if I offer plowing services for a fee?

Answer: Probably not. Assuming that plowing is a side operation, and given the trend towards milder winters in Massachusetts, it is hard to imagine that a vehicle will plow more than 20% of the time. Nevertheless, if plowing exceeds 20%, then a “service” classed vehicle might have to be changed to a “commercial” class (80/20 rule).

Question: I am attaching a plow to my vehicle. Does my Business Auto Policy provide physical damage coverage for the plow?

Answer: Yes. There is physical damage coverage for the plow (equipment) as long as the vehicle to which it is attached also carries physical damage coverage. The cost new of the vehicle should be increased to include the cost new of the plow.

Question: I have a Business Auto Policy now. Does my policy provide coverage if someone slips on ice and is injured after I have finished plowing?

Answer: No. Incidents that occur after you have completed your job are not covered on an unendorsed policy. Those incidents, in insurance terms, are called “completed operations liability” and if you are being asked to cover them you will need to purchase the endorsement. Completed operations are covered on a General Liability policy, not a business auto policy. In order to keep liability rates low , most insurance company underwriters will provide this coverage when plowing is limited to driveways, streets and roads. Because of pedestrian traffic in parking lots many company’s will not provide coverage if you plow parking lots. We have markets for all the different snow plow risks but, as you can see, it is important to be as specific as possible about the kind of plowing that you do.