Winter Preparation – Insurance Risk Reduction

Winter Sidewalk

The number of lawsuits from slip and falls are on the rise. Make sure you protect yourself by following this simple checklist:

  1. Have your property staked – This shows pedestrians the intended paths for foot traffic and with a clearly marked map you will be prepared to demonstrate to your insurer that you have marked walkways that you address with snow clearing and salt or ice-remover.  If falls happen away from the marked area you will be much better prepared to argue that the pedestrian takes the risk of walking unintended paths on themselves.
  2. Place Salt boxes on site – Proper placement of salt (or ice remover) boxes will simplify the process of spreader ice removal products for staff, contractors, or even residents.  Ice forms quickly and snow removal contractors cannot be everywhere at once.  Map the locations of walkway intersections and place “salt” boxes in locations that make it simple and easy to spread salt and protect residents.
  3. Ask if your contractor has GPS enabled vehicles – this new technology will help you provide accurate facts to insurance adjusters in the event of an accident.  Your best defense against false claims is indisputable facts and if you present accurate times of salt spreading and snow removal to an insurance adjuster they will be better able to protect your community from false, fraudulent or exaggerated claims.
  4. Have a signed contract outlining the Scope of Work – This allows you to clearly outline the responsibilities of your staff and your contractors.  It can help your community deflect the liability that you have contracted out as part of your snow removal agreement.  This practice also encourages your snow removal contractor to make your site a priority as they become a defendant in the event of a slip and fall.
  5. Have a Customized Emergency Snow Plan and a customized snow map – Spend the time before the winter season planning on at least one or two major snowfalls that will require additional snow removal or relocation.  Plan on the placement of snow and make sure the contractors and regular drivers are aware of your plans because 4 a.m. on the morning of a major blizzard is not the time you want to be trying to reach your snow removal contractor.  Also trying to get the driver back to relocate snow after they have already left the property will not be an easy task during a major snowfall.
  6. Make sure your Snow Contractor has a minimum of  $5.0 M General Liability– The amounts of claims are steadily increasing and reviewing the Corporations liability coverage, and the coverage of your contractors, is an important part of protecting your residents.  Managers and Board members should also consider the exposure to the Condominium based on who your residents or guests are.  As one well known insurance expert reminds us, “If I fall on your property $5Million will cover you, but if Tiger Woods falls and hurts himself you want more insurance.”

Planning ahead is the best way to ensure that you, your Board members and your residents are ready to enjoy winter – and with these steps completed you are much better prepared for a safe and happy holiday season.