Ice dams are nothing to sing about.  Make sure your ice dam/roof snow removal contractor doesn’t get a bad rap!
Commercial General Liability insurance for contractors that perform ice dam and roof snow removal is a must have.  Claims happen – even if the contractor is not at fault, they can still be drawn into costly claims or lawsuits!  Take for example, the following claim scenarios*:
– The insured removed snow from a residential roof using a shovel.  After the first thaw, the customer notices a water leak in their ceiling.  The melted snow and ice leaked under a loose shingle and caused interior water damage.  Was the shingle loose before the contractor removed the snow? It’s tough to say, but the customer sued the insured. The General Liability policy provided a defense for the insured and the lawsuit was eventually dismissed.
– A contractor removed an ice dam from a roof using a steamer.  The walkway wasn’t cleaned up and the snow/ice re-froze.  A passerby slipped on the re-freeze and broke a hip.  The General Liability paid for the injured person’s medical bills
– A contractor removed snow from a flat rubber membrane roof using a metal shovel, not realizing that he had damaged the roof in several places, which then caused water to damage the building.  The General Liability policy paid for the damage.

What can roof snow/ice jam removal contractors do to protect themselves from costly claims?
– Inspect the roof prior to doing any snow or ice dam removal.  If any roof issues are seen, like loose or missing shingles or evidence of roof issues (besides the ice dam/snow), they should decline to provide service.
– Be experienced in the method used to remove snow and ice dams, and use the appropriate tools and equipment.  It’s easy to damage a shingle you cannot see! Hammers, pickaxes or saws used to chip through an ice dam will damage a roof.  Ice adheres to shingles, therefore if you are trying to chip the ice dam, you will most likely be chipping/puncturing the shingle too.
– When done, clean up the ground and walkways to prevent ice hazards from forming.-
– Commercial General Liability insurance can help protect and defend your insured against claims and lawsuits from the above claim scenario’s and more.    If the contractor currently has a CGL policy, some carriers may allow this exposure to be added.

Erickson-Larsen can help! We have markets that can provide all of the coverages needed for your clients. We also have specialized applications to help you collect the information necessary. Please contact our experienced team at E&L for specific insurance requirements and questions.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for general information purposes only.  The information contained is not intended to constitute and should not be considered legal or professional advice, nor does it represent that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any policy. *Claims settlements vary depending on the company and coverages provided.  The claims indicated in this post are scenarios and not actual claims.