December 17, 2019
tony digiovanniWe are in the midst of an insurance crisis. I have received many calls from members who can no longer get insurance for snow and ice operations. Others report that their insurance rates have doubled or tripled, and their deductibles have also increased. In one day I even received three calls from desperate members asking that we organize a protest at Queen’s Park. This is a serious, complex issue.

Some insurance companies have decided to walk away from snow and ice operations. One reason is that slip and fall claims cost more than the premiums collected. Insuring snow and ice operations is too much of a risk. The ubiquitous commercials from personal injury lawyers are not helping. The constant refrain, “you don’t pay unless we win” is having an effect.

Another factor is the public's expectation that roads, parking lots and sidewalks should be bare at all times — even during a snow and ice event. Our members cannot be everywhere at the same time. The expectations are unreasonable. A common sign on the highway states,“drive according to winter conditions.” Pedestrians should dress according to winter conditions. It is everyone’s responsibility to do the best they can to stay safe.

This is not the first time we have faced an insurance crisis. About 13 years ago the insurance market did the same thing and walked away from $12 million in premiums built-up in our endorsed insurance program. It sent us scrambling to find another insurance broker. We finally partnered with Marsh — one of the largest insurance brokers in the world. Marsh was able to find an insurance company willing to take our business, but only if members did not sign a “hold harmless” clause. We also focused on helping members mitigate risk through optimum operational practices and better documentation.

If you are not with Marsh, look them up at They may be able to help. In addition, below are some actions we are taking (and some that need your help) in order to weather this storm.

Contact your local MPP

MPP Norm Miller has put forward a private member's bill to amend the Occupiers' Liability Act, which aims to reduce the statute of limitations from two years to 10 days. The bill has gone through second reading, and if passed, it will have a huge impact in limiting liability. We need every member to email or visit their local MPP to ask them to support Bill 118. Go visit if you can.

We have laid the groundwork for you with a sample email/letter available online.
  1. Lookup the the contact info for your local MPP at
  2. Click CONTACT MY MPP (or the button below).
  3. Click in the To: field and paste in the email of your local MPP. It should automatically CC: MPP Norm Miller,, Attorney General, Doug Downey,, and LO's Tony DiGiovanni,
  4. Customize the body of the message with the name of your MPP, your name (top and bottom).
  5. Click Send.
There's also a template of the email in Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF for you as well or as a webpage. Please don’t ignore this.


Strength in numbers

We have joined an alliance called Freshwater Working Group. The alliance is proposing legislation that will make it mandatory for snow operators to become Smart about Salt (SAS) accredited. Accredited companies will be protected from liability. This legislative remedy is modelled after similar legislation in New Hampshire.

A number of members have formed an insurance alliance through a company called the Insurance Market. Please contact Mark Jackson at if you are interested in exploring this option.

We are exploring the feasibility of starting our own captive insurance company.

We have hired a government relations firm to help guide us.

Tools and resources

We have developed a standard form contract that limits your liability. We suggest that you use it. You can find it at

We developed risk management guidelines. Please see:

About 20 years ago, Landscape Ontario’s Snow and Ice Management Group was responsible for reducing the Statute of Limitation from seven years to two. It is now time to get it to 10 days to match the municipalities. You can help.
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director