August 19, 2020
tony digiovanniI have been receiving many calls about massive insurance increases, especially from those in the snow removal sector. Many of you cannot even get insurance, even if you have a great claims record. There are two main reasons for this situation.

First, the insurance industry is global. That means that just as you purchase insurance to mitigate potential risks, insurance companies purchase reinsurance to mitigate their risks. The effect is that risks are spread out across many insurance companies. When global catastrophes happen, the payout affects the entire net of insurance companies. Recent global payouts have insurance companies wary of risk.   

Second, contingency lawyers make it easy for the public to sue and therefore claims have increased exponentially. Insurance companies often settle rather than fight because it is cheaper. Eventually, this leads to increases or insurance companies decide they no longer want to insure risk-laden sectors such as snow removal.

LO has prepared a template for you to personalize and send as a letter to your local MPP (see Letter to local MPP below). You can copy and paste the letter or download it. Once personalized, you can find contact information for your local MPP online at

Once you send a letter to your local MPP, we would also like you to be a part of a Twitter campaign to raise awareness on the insurance crisis. We have posted a handy Twitter Converation Guide below, including best practices, key messages and some suggested Tweets with the appropriate tags for you to customize. The Guide can also be downloaded.

Letter to local MPP

I am writing to you for help as a small business operator who provides the essential service of snow and ice removal locally to [businesses and residential] customers. [Provide a few details on your business – e.g. where you are, if you have employees or are you a sole operator, how long you have been in business.]

The help I need is to stop the out of control escalation of insurance prices for snow and ice contractors and in some cases the lack of insurance availability. This year alone my costs for insurance rose from [$XXX.XX to $XXXX.XX] because of the high prevalence of slip and fall claims (many that are frivolous/nuisance claims) against all contractors in the sector. My deductible for each claim also increased [$XXX]. [State the impact on your business and cite your own experience and/or what you have heard from others.]

The solution is not simple and requires legislative change. We need you to help us fight for the following amendments so that we can continue to provide essential high-quality snow and ice removal services in Ontario.

1.     Pass Bill 118, Norm Miller’s Private Members Bill immediately limiting the time to sue a contractor for a slip and fall claim to 10 days (consistent with municipalities) The Bill:
        -  Will limit the number of frivolous claims filed.
        -  Will limit the unknown risk premium for incurred but not reported claims to an insurance company that exists because claims can be filed for 2 years.
        -  Keeps the ability to sue after 10 days if the contractor has been negligent or there is another factor that prohibited filing within the 10-day window.
2.     Ban “Hold Harmless” clauses in contracts that push all liability to contractors when it is outside the terms of the contract. “Hold Harmless” clauses unfairly pushes all liability to the contractor. This legislation is in place in several U.S. states including Denver, Illinois and Connecticut. It will help reduce the cost of claims for landscapers and the cost to the insurance company to pay for claims.
3.     Define the duty of care for proper snow and ice property maintenance through a best practices certification administered by the sector and restrict the ability to take legal action if best practices are being followed. This proposal is based on a successful model in New Hampshire. The program clearly defines the responsibility of contractors and property owners.The program will also help reduce over salting and is supported by the Ontario Freshwater Roundtable which includes representatives from environmental groups, contractors and property owners.
Landscape Ontario, our provincial trade association, is also working on a captive insurance solution that will allow us to get the insurance company to fight more claims on behalf of policy holders. Right now, the cost benefit of fighting — even when the property is maintained perfectly, favours settling the claim verses going to court.

I hope you will see the importance of keeping all of Ontario’s snow and ice removal service providers in business and operating at full capacity as winter approaches.

The landscape industry sincerely appreciated the government helping to get our sector working safely again after the shutdown resulting from the pandemic. Addressing the insurance issues would help protect our businesses from unfair insurance costs in this important year.

[Your name here]

Twitter Conversation Guide

To encourage MPPs to support government action to resolve the insurance issue facing snow and ice operators.
Key themes:
  • The business of snow and ice removal is under unprecedented threat.
  • Rising insurance costs mean there will be operators, especially smaller ones, put out of business.
  • Coupled with the impact of COVID-19 across the industry, the results could be devastating.
  • Public expectations of safe snow and ice management will be shaken.
  • Snow and ice operators live in all ridings in Ontario.
  • Our solution will save jobs and help reduce salt use, which will be beneficial to the environment.

Twitter best practices:
  • Tag your local MPP, and MPP Norm Miller (@normmillerpc), Attorney General Downey (@douglasdowney), Premier Ford (@fordnation) and the Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Minister Sarkaria (@PrabSarkaria)
  • If you are including messaging about the environment you should also tag the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Minister Yurek (@JeffYurekMPP)
  • You may also wish to tag the Parliamentary Assistant  to the Attorney General, Lindsey Park (@lparkpc) and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Andrea Khanjin (@andrea_khanjin)
  • Tag Landscape Ontario @green_for_life.
  • Include #InsuranceCrisis in your tweet
  • Given that Twitter has a character limit, you can place your tags in a reply to your own tweet. This will create a thread. You can also tell a longer story in this format.
  • Landscape Ontario will retweet some of the stories to draw more attention to them.
Key messages:
It is important that you use your authentic voice to express these concepts.
  • The cost of liability insurance for snow and ice operators is skyrocketing (if possible, include a concrete example. Such as your insurance increasing by a specific dollar amount, or a percentage).
  • If there is not a solution to the insurance issue, your business may not be able to operate this season, or you may have to lay off workers in an already difficult economy.
  • With difficult decisions being made by operators throughout the industry, you are worried about the public’s reaction that their safety is being compromised.
  • The likelihood that more salt will be employed to reduce liability risks undermines the government’s own plans for reducing the environmental damage caused by salt runoff
  • MPP Norm Miller has introduced a bill that would limit the time for people to file slip and fall claims. This would help, but more is needed such as Smart About Salt guidelines and a “hold harmless” cause.
Suggested Tweets (customize them so that they are true for your situation)
The #InsuranceCrisis facing snow and ice operators resulted in my insurance costs increasing by [$XX,XXX] last winter. I don’t know what will happen this winter. We need the Bill by @normmillerpc implemented and more to continue keeping the public safe! @douglasdowney @lparkpc @fordnation
Our insurance went up by [XX%] last season. We do everything we can to keep parking lots safe, but the #InsuranceCrisis is killing our small business. The Bill by @normmillerpc is a great first step and we need it passed and more has to be done to ensure all the small operators stay viable @douglasdowney @PrabSarkaria @fordnation
Small businesses are struggling with #covid19, and things won’t get better in the winter for us. Last year our insurance bill tripled. @normmillerpc has a great Bill and @green_for_life has ideas to make it stronger @douglasdowney @fordnation
We are a small business in [location] and last year our insurance tripled. We do everything we can to keep parking lots safe, but the #InsuranceCrisis is killing our business. The Bill by @normmillerpc is a great first step, but we need more @douglasdowney @PrabSarkaria @fordnation @rodphillips01

Additional resources mentioned in this article:

Letter to MPP (download in MSword format)
Twitter Conversation Guide (download in MSword format)
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director