Three areas for liability vulnerability have been trending in small-business circles, Sherman says, and snow and ice management contractors need to take notice, as well. They include:
Contractors Pollution Liability (CPL): Coverage includes bodily injury, property damage, defense, cleanup, and related defense costs as a result of pollution conditions. For the snow and ice industry, vulnerabilities run the gambit from salt leeching to chemical spills. “These policies are very cheap and can save you a fortune down the road, especially if environmental clean-up costs are involved, which can be astronomical,” Sherman says.
Cyber: If you conduct business over the Internet, then you’re at risk. If you manage personal data, client information, credit card numbers, etc., then you’re vulnerable to data breeches by a hacker who gains access for the purpose of damage, theft, disruption or corruption of your electronic data, Sherman says.
Employment Policies (EPLI): Employment practices liability is generally not covered by general liability insurance. Vulnerabilities includes work-related issues such as harassment, wrongful termination, breach of contract, and discrimination, to name a few.
Cyber and EPLI (discrimination/harassment) claims have jumped dramatically over the past 2-3 years, says Josh Ferguson, co-chair of the Philadelphia and New Jersey offices of Freeman Mathis & Garry LLP and general counsel to the Accredited Snow Contractors Association.
“Those are both areas in which (insurance) carriers used to provide add-ons,” he says, “but, given the heavy uptick in claims, [they] have changed course.”
Claims in any of these areas can do astronomical financial damage to a small business, so a relatively minor expense up front could be well worth it in the event of a claim down the road. Both Sherman and Ferguson agree it’s vital to talk to your agent about potential vulnerability.
“Your agent isn’t always going to initiate these conversations,” Sherman says. “But any agent worth their salt would be happy to have this conversation and see what sorts of exposures there are with your business.
“I’m not saying go out and get every coverage that is available, but it’s worth a discussion with your agent to assess these exposures and to see what applies (to your business),” he adds.
Mike Zawacki is the editor of Snow Magazine