July 3, 2020
By Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

Insurance has quickly become a huge issue for many business owners in the landscape and horticulture profession. Everyone is facing large increases. Some members report insurance premium increases anywhere from 25 to 400 per cent. Some cannot obtain insurance at any cost.

There are several reasons for these increases. Many insurance companies simply will not cover snow and ice operations — even if the business is profitable. This has happened in the past. Insurance markets fluctuate internationally, and we are currently in a very hard market where insurance companies are fleeing risky business. It also does not help when contingency lawyers proactively encourage the public to sue and insurance companies settle because it costs more to fight than to settle.

Landscape Ontario’s Snow and Ice Management Sector Group is fighting this issue. Below are some strategies being implemented:

Support of Bill 118
MPP Norm Miller’s Bill to reduce the statute of limitations from two years to 10 days will be going to committee. In fact, just before the Covid crisis hit, the Bill was scheduled. Unfortunately, Covid postponed all normal legislative activity. We are hoping to pick-up the process as soon as the government gets back to normal.

Support of the Freshwater Roundtable Alliance
LO is a part of this alliance that is working to convince government that the best way to protect oversalting of our water resources is to develop appropriate standards for snow and ice operations that focus on reducing the use of salt, and then to provide liability protection to accredited contractors who employ best practices. This is essentially the model that is being used in New Hampshire.

Feasibility study to determine if we should start our own insurance company
Through the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA) we have asked Marsh (our endorsed insurance broker) to investigate the feasibility of developing our own insurance company. The term used is “Captive Insurance.” If our members have their own insurance company, they may not be subjected to the ups and downs of the global market and can also control the standards and decide which claims to fight.

Investigation of a Self Insured Retention program
A number of our larger members are looking at developing a Self Insured Retention (SIR) program. This is similar to Captive Insurance, but without the formality of setting up an insurance company.

These are the main strategies we are employing to deal with this very serious issue. For the latest update, and to help support our efforts, please plan to attend our virtual Snowposium on July 28. To register, visit Snowposium.ca.