For years, snow and ice management contractors have complained to me about insurance carriers settling claims, especially slip-and-fall claims, instead of fighting them in court. And while I sympathize with their frustration, there are reasons carriers fail to put up a fight. Some are logical, some are financial and sometimes they’re simply justifiable.
I recognize the claims are, more often than not, baseless and not the contractor’s fault. However, if you can’t prove every little bit of your defense, then you are at risk of your insurance carrier paying out on a claim.
One phrase I use when I’m out addressing snow contractors is, “It is your responsibility to protect yourself, your company, your client and the insurance carrier.” There is no way around it.It is why the Accredited Snow Contractors Association developed the ANSI standards for this industry. These Industry Standards officially titled, “ANSI/ASCA A1000-2014, System Requirements for Snow and Ice Management,” provide everything you need to know about proper training, preparation and in-event processes to ensure you have safe and reliable risk-management practices.
Most importantly, industry standards provide contractors with a road map to practice proper documentation for a snow business. Most of the time, when a claim is settled or paid out, the contractor failed to prove they did what they said they did at 2:14 a.m. on Jan. 14, 2017. If you can’t provide the insurance carrier with every detail from your business records of what happened, they are most likely to settle the case, rather than potentially lose hundreds of thousands of dollars on the claim.
On average, it costs an insurance company at least $100,000 to take a case through the entire process and go to trial. If you can’t provide the documentation and details they need, and they can settle the case for any number less than that, they are making a business decision and ultimately, in their eyes, saving money.
Companies that follow the industry standards, remember, it is your responsibility to protect yourself, your company, your client and the insurance company.