Choosing the right snow removal service is a crucial step in winter preparation for both businesses and homeowners. Here are seven expert tips for choosing a reputable and reliable contractor this season.
Step #1: Request an on-site visit or evaluation
Your snow removal contractor should visit the property and take notes on requested services and potential obstacles before the first snowfall. By doing so, they can accurately estimate the time and labor required to service the area.
Step #2: Ask for a schedule
Different properties have different needs when it comes to snow removal. Where one may require weekly plowing, another may require every other week or just a cleanup after another snowfall. Knowing when to expect your contractor to arrive can help you plan alternative snow removal methods between visits, such as shoveling, salting, etc.
Remember: Some contractors perform snow removal services as a part-time job, which may affect their availability. Be sure to confirm their opening hours before winter begins.
Step #3: Check their references
It is important that you have a reputable, licensed and bonded professional in charge of your snow removal service.
While some property owners may fall into the trap of choosing less reputable contractors in exchange for a lower price, snow removal (and its potential impact on the safety of yourself and those living on your property) is not an area where you should put savings over safety .
A quick Google search should give you an idea of a company̵7;s reputation, but it never hurts to ask for references. A reputable company should be able to provide these, and any company that is unwilling to do so is likely not as reputable as it should be.
Step #4: Ask to see their proof of insurance
The company you choose for your snow removal service should be properly insured against any accidents or damage they cause. Ideally, they should be able to provide a copy of their insurance, which you should keep for the duration of your contract.
Most importantly, this documentation should prove that their liability and workers’ compensation insurance coverage is current.
Step #5: Always get a written contract
A conversation with a snow removal company is just the first step in strengthening your coverage. Always make sure to get a detailed contract written before the start of the season. An effective contract includes sections on:
- The extent of the services they will provide (plowing, shoveling, grinding/salting)
- Your property’s unique needs (such as parking lots, driveways, walkways, roofing)
- The frequency or conditions of their visits (ie the amount of snow required for them to appear, days of the week they plan to plow, etc.)
- Their expectations of payment
Did you know: Most contractors use either a pay-per-plowing or a pay-per-season model. If you are asked to pay all fees in advance, this should be a red flag that the contractor is not reputable, as most contractors will split the fees into several payments over the course of the season.
Read everything before signing and note any cancellation fees and extra fees that may apply.
Step #6: Remember to evaluate
Most home and business owners make the mistake of setting up a snow removal plan and considering their part of the process done. However, it is important to monitor the contractor’s work throughout the season.
Check that they remove snow and ice after a weather event on time and according to the established agreement. If they are not, follow up to address any issues and adjust future seasonal contracts as needed to prevent further mishaps.
Step #7: Check your insurance every winter
Establishing a snow removal plan is critical to ensuring the safety of those who set foot on your property during the winter months – but accidents still happen from time to time.
Make sure you are covered check your policy limits and coverage details for your commercial property insurance (for entrepreneurs) or yours home owner insurance (for personal property owners) policies before the first snowfall. Knowing that you have coverage in case someone is injured on your property gives you the peace of mind you need to keep operating throughout the winter, no matter how much snow falls.
This article was originally published in February 2021. It has since been updated for accuracy.