Snow and ice contractors brave insurance blizzard

New legislation and a first-of-its-kind standard may quell a crisis that is ultimately affecting condo corporations

A hard global insurance market has been affecting all types of service providers across Canada, but one in particular is feeling the chill and facing a crisis point, the effects of which will trickle down to private property owners and condo corporations.

Two years ago, Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of Landscape Ontario, began receiving weekly phone calls from snow and ice contractors. Their insurance premiums were escalating, and some, who spent years building their business, couldn’t obtain any insurance at all.

“It started off at 25 per cent, then you’d hear stories about 40 per cent, then 600 per cent,” he says. “It’s a crisis not just for members, but eventually, if this doesn’t get solved, who is going to keep Ontario safe? It will affect everybody.”

There is a confluence of factors. At the heart, is a heightened amount of slip-and-fall claims. Fewer insurance companies are willing to insure risky businesses now, but with snow contractors, it’s largely due to this particular liability that property owners and managers pass on to the contractor through the Occupiers’ Liability Act (OLA). Because snow and ice contractors assume control over a property during a contract, they are deemed at fault if someone is injured from a slip-and-fall.

Terry Nicholson, vice-president of Clintar Landscape Management and chair of Landscape Ontario’s Snow and Ice Sector Group, says the costs to fight these claims are so expensive that insurance companies are settling them before they reach the court… [Read More]