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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,
A couple of friends and I have an opportunity to get started in snow plowing but we are not sure on how to do it. Here is a little background info.

My sister and brother-in-law purchased a couple of small office buildings during the summer and they asked us if we wanted to be in charge of plowing the parking lots and side walks for them. They said they would pay us fairly so we thought it might be a good chance for us to get started. (I know the rates on plowing is a whole separate subject... I did the search). What they will pay us is not really an issue now b/c they have always been generous to us. They even offered to loan us money to purchase a truck so we can get started. We are not going to do it and that's beside the point. We're more interested in gaining experience first.

I checked on insurance and received a similar quote as Snoworks from American Family Insurance. To be honest, we don't have the money to get the commercial insurance right away. But we also don't want to miss this opportunity. So my question(s) is...

If we plowed the snow for them as a favor and not get paid, can we still be held liable?

What if we were employed by them as "maintenance guys" responsible for snow plowing? My sister formed an LLC as the owner of the building.

If we sub for a larger outfit. Will we still need the commercial insurance? Would we be covered under the main contractor’s insurance?

How did some of you guys get started?

Sorry about the long post guys/ gals but I have done searches and have not really found answers to these questions.

We plan on joining SIMA for some guidance but won't be able to until next month.

Any answers/ responses will be appreciated. We just want to minimize the "would've, could've and should've" in the future

Thanks in Advance!
 

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It sounds like you have a very good oportunity here. However, you do still need to be aware of some potential pitfalls:

ITR450 said:

If we plowed the snow for them as a favor and not get paid, can we still be held liable?

Yes, and they might not be able to shield you even if they wanted to. Say someone slipped, got hurt and incurred medical expenses. Your sister and brother-in-law may want to take on the responsibility and that is commendable. However, their insurance company will not. That is when opposing lawyers will want to know who was responsible for maintenance, who did what and when. With that realize the lawyers will go after the deepest pockets. That is not likely to be you.


What if we were employed by them as "maintenance guys" responsible for snow plowing? My sister formed an LLC as the owner of the building.

Then you would be employees and they would need to pay you as well as cover you for Workmen's Comp.


If we sub for a larger outfit. Will we still need the commercial insurance? Would we be covered under the main contractor’s insurance?

Yes. Maybe but not likely. Check with the owner of that outfit and his insurance company. If you sub, they will usually require certificates of insurance from you.


How did some of you guys get started?

I bought a plow, put it on my truck, put an ad in the paper, spent a lot of time online with some of these guys, plowed my own driveway a couple of times to learn the basics and started plowing. The first customer asked me for GL insurance. I didn't have it, so she said to get insurance and come back. Never been asked for it since, but have always had it. The first push I ever did for anyone else, I came VERY close to backing into her car.
 

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I started out by subcontracting for a larger company with my pickup. It's a good way to learn the business and make a few bucks at the same time. After a few seasons, I began to build my own business and then later broke my ties with the larger company.

Common sense goes a long way in this business and your post suggests you have a fairly good dose of that in place. I wouldn't take a fairly large commercial account on as a first attempt at plowing, give yourself a couple seasons or more to learn how to handle snow and ice, then jump in with both feet!
 

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What if we were employed by them as "maintenance guys" responsible for snow plowing? My sister formed an LLC as the owner of the building.
You would have to be employees of them, with W-2's and paychecks for it to work. The vehicles would also have to be owned, or leased by them. Anything else, and you are simply independant contractors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I really appreciate all the info.

It seems whether we sub or get our own contracts we will need to have the GL insurance anyway.

If anyone else has anything to add please do so, we would like to gain as much knowledge as we can before actually venturing out.

Can someone also post the web site of the “other” forum? I would like to do some searches over there as well.

Thanks Again!
 

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IRT450,

Where you are located would have a big effect on a go or no go situation. How many plowable events do you get in a year? Do you have the time to devote to 24/7 response? Can you finance the insurance (monthly payments?). Can you get other accounts and/or sub for other large contractors?

Good luck!
 
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