Rooney bill stops unfair liability transfer from property owners to snow contractors

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney sponsors legislation that will help reign in escalating insurance costs for snow contractors who service high-traffic commercial and retail properties, such as shopping centers and big-box stores throughout the winter months.

“With contractors holding the liability, there is little incentive for property owners to have the job done right,” said Rooney (R-Bergen).  “This creates a safety issue for drivers and customers.”

Rooney pointed out that professional companies often walk away from signing these contracts, leaving a plower with inadequate equipment and unprepared crews to service a property.

The bill (A3968) renders void and unenforceable any indemnification language in a contract with a snowplow vendor.  It does not apply to the state or any municipal government.

The industry is also fighting costly insurance premiums that have escalated due to several factors, but primarily due to contractual language that is forced upon them.

Contractors pay 10 percent of their entire sales revenues for commercial general liability policies on average, which can be 6 times higher than insurance for summer businesses such as landscaping and excavating.  This doesn’t consider auto, health, workers comp and umbrella insurance policies that are also required.

Only three insurance carriers currently write these policies in New Jersey.