Snow Removal and Ice Management Industry Law Changes?Dave Botz
One of the reasons why snow contracts are important to pay attention to is hold-harmless and indemnification issues that are outlined in the contact itself. Go ahead and take a look through some of your contacts and you will more than likely see this mentioned in the contact itself.
Basically, if someone slips and falls and breaks a hip while walking on a sidewalk maintained by your snow removal team, you could be at fault. Well, your insurance could. That is one of the reason why your insurance and liability prices are setup the way they are.
Don’t get me wrong, a good contract with outlines such as this isn’t all bad. It allows you as the business owner to take matters into your own hands and make decisions which you know are right for the customer and will get the job done right without issues such as this.
Eliminating hold-harmless and indemnification clauses from service contracts means more than just a reduction in contractor liability. ASCA Executive Director Kevin Gilbride explains the legislation’s financial impact on the industry, and how close this is to becoming a reality in a number of snow states.
Last month, the ASCA announce the launch of the ASCA Action Network (AAN), a grassroots movement to aggressively impact legislative change at the state level. That announcement coincided with the ASCA getting our model legislation introduced as bills in both Illinois and New Jersey.
This legislation, if enacted, would make hold-harmless agreements and indemnification clauses null and void in the snow industry. This, of course, would have a huge impact on your insurance policies… as you would no longer have to defend your clients for incidents that had nothing to do with you. However, the bigger impact is that by everyone taking responsibility for themselves, this is going to open up more profitable pavement for the snow and ice management industry.
Why is this? Because of the property manager can’t pass on their liability to you, so they are going to want to make sure they have a well-maintained property. At the same time — if they grant you the authority to salt — you would take on that liability. That is not a bad thing because it gives you the ability to make the call and do things right and, as a result, bill more for these services. In all likeliness, 2-inch triggers will come down as the property manager ensures things are safe.
In the end, this legislation is be a huge win for the snow and ice management industry.
So where are we at on this? Here’s a summary:
- In Illinois, the legislation is House Bill 4221 and Senate Bill 2138.
- In New Jersey it is Senate Bill 3121.
- On September 16th, the ASCA is holding a legislative day in Lansing, Mich. We have 20 individuals who are scheduling appointments and we plan to have the legislation introduced with that state’s legislature soon.
- We are working with Massachusetts law makers on the proper wording for their state and expect to have a bill number in the very near future.
- We have a commitment from Alaska to have the legislation introduced at the beginning of the next session.
- We continue making great progress in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Connecticut and Vermont, and we have active groups of participants that are driving this in those states.
If you are interested in supporting these efforts, please contact me directly.
If you are not an ASCA member, and you would like these laws to pass, just a reminder that membership dues are a main source of funding for these initiatives. So you don’t need to be actively involved to support these efforts. In the end… all contractors will benefit.