Is My Snowplow Covered Under My Auto Insurance Policy?
Whether you’re looking to start a snow removal business, a side hustle for some extra income or just keep your own driveway clear… a snowplow can be a good investment.
Before you get started, get the answers to some common questions from beginner snowplow drivers.
I’M THINKING OF BUYING A PLOW FOR MY TRUCK. ANY TIPS OR ADVICE?
First things first: Always consult local Department of Transportation regulations and your vehicle owner’s manual before installing any plow equipment on your truck.
When you’re ready to make the investment, get to know your local snow plow dealer. He or she can help you find a plow that meets your needs and budget. A dealer can also direct you to resources about maintenance, safety, spare parts and repairs specific to your plow.
The pros at the Snow and Ice Management Association, a membership organization for snow removal contractors, offer these tips for safe operation of a snow plow:
- Do your research. First, read the owner’s manual. Then, familiarize yourself with all the controls and settings on your plow before you fire it up for the first time.
- Drive safely. Turn the plow controls off when driving on roads to avoid any accidental drops or movements.
- Be mindful of added weight. You’ll want to brake a little earlier when driving with a plow. The weight of your plow can increase your stopping distance and put stress on your transmission.
- Visibility is key. Weather conditions can be unpredictable. Remove all snow and ice from windows and mirrors before you plow. (Need ideas? Read our list of 14 hacks to deal with snow and ice on your car.) Resist the urge to plow with your head poked outside the driver’s side window. It’s just not safe!
- Stay safe and visible. Always wear a seat belt. When actively plowing, use flashers or warning lights.
- Take it easy. While plowing, a good rule of thumb is to keep your speed at or under 10 mph. On the road, don’t exceed the speed limit – even when driving between sites on a busy day.
Get the full list of snowplow driving tips or download a best practices checklist on the SIMA website.
I HAVE A PLOW ON MY PICKUP TRUCK. IS THAT COVERED UNDER MY AUTO POLICY?
That depends on what type of insurance policy you have and where you’re using your plow. As always, talk to an insurance pro like an ERIE agent if you have specific questions about what’s covered.
- If you’re only using your plow for personal use: For example, say you’re plowing your own driveway or driving over to plow your brother’s driveway as a favor. (Aren’t you thoughtful!) Under an ERIE personal auto policy, liability and physical damage coverage is usually automatically extended to your plow, as long as you have those coverages purchased for your pickup truck. Learn more about personal auto insurance from ERIE.
- If you’re making an income as a full- or part-time snow removal contractor: You’d need to purchase a commercial auto policy. Operating a business – or even a side hustle – presents risks that are not covered by a personal auto policy. Your local ERIE agent can help get you a quote based on your needs and budget. Learn more about commercial auto insurance from ERIE.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET BUSINESS AS A SNOW REMOVAL CONTRACTOR?
Prices tend to vary widely, so know what other snow removal contractors are charging in your area. Don’t be surprised if your potential clients get multiple estimates! To stand out, it helps to have a few good references to provide to potential customers.
It’s also a smart idea to visit the property in person so you know what to expect regarding the scope of the job. (For example, is it a driveway or a parking lot? Are there any obstacles or tough maneuvers?) When you’re ready to lock it down, always get the final agreement in writing. Get more tips in this checklist for hiring a snow removal contractor.
We can help with snowplow insurance coverage
At Erie Insurance, our local insurance agents can help you understand the insurance coverage that makes sense for your needs and budget. From workers’ compensation and general liability insurance for your snow plow business to top-notch coverage at a great price for your truck – we’re here to help.