Snow and Ice Removal: Risk Management Advice for Property Owners and Managers

When you have to scrape the frost off of your car’s windshield in the morning or you start to see your breath in the cold, it’s time to prepare for winter in the Northeast. For property owners and managers, this means making sure you have an effective snow and ice removal plan to help reduce the potential for injuries to guests and patrons. It is your responsibility to address potential snow and ice hazards, so it is important to assess your options and be prepared.  

  1. Determine if you’d like to use your own property maintenance staff (option #1) or use a snow removal contractor (option #2). If you choose option #1, make sure that you have adequate staff and proper equipment. If might also be a good idea to have a contractor available on standby, just in case.
  2. If you use a snow removal contractor, obtain a certificate of insurance and review certificates and contracts annually. It’s important to make sure that the contractor has both liability insurance coverage and appropriate limits of insurance. Rose & Kiernan can help if you have any questions regarding the insurance certificates received from the snowplow contractor.  Have your attorney review the terms of any written contracts to understand any harmless and indemnification clauses. Also, make sure that invoices include details of services rendered.
  3. Develop and implement a comprehensive written snow and ice removal plan. This plan should include determining who is responsible for carrying out the plan, contractor selection, maintaining snow removal logs, frequency of removal, use of sand and salt and proper claim handling/reporting practices.
  4. Be proactive (not reactive). Actions to consider include posting warning signs in high hazard areas, providing adequate lighting where possible, correcting drainage problems that result in puddles in areas where people walk and removing or providing warnings of hidden hazards that could be accidentally struck by cars or trip pedestrians if covered by snow (curbs, fire hydrants, grates, etc.).
  5. Stay organized. Record removal activities in a log and perform incident investigations promptly. Information that should be included in the log includes the individual’s name, estimated amounts of snowfall, ice buildup, temperature, action taken, date and times, inspection notes and unusual conditions.

Overall, having an effective snow and ice removal plan is a great way to protect your business, employees, customers and the public as temperatures drop this winter. Mitigating risk is always important. In addition, Rose & Kiernan, Inc. can assist with an overview of your specific business insurance policies at each of your locations to understand how your company would be covered.

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