Thursday, November 29, 2012

Snow removal insurance, the trifecta

By Martin Tirado

I enjoy going to the horse track and betting on races. I didn’t grow up with it, as there are no horse tracks in Wisconsin, instead going the first time as an adult to a track in Arizona while on vacation. I’ve continued to go back when I can as I enjoy examining the odds, background of the horses, the preparations before each race, and of course the excitement that occurs during each race until the finish. 

For those familiar, there’s a bet in horse racing called the trifecta. It’s predicting which horses will come in 1st, 2nd and 3rd in exact order. The payout depends on the odds, but picking a trifecta typically pays out abundantly. There’s also a trifecta in insurance for snow contractors, and it’s not a gamble. It’s a requirement. This trifecta is the contractor to agent to provider relationship, and each has an important role in managing risk for a snow and ice business. 

The trifecta starts with the contractor based on the coverage needed for their business. This is often driven by what consumers are requiring in their contracts. Snow Business magazine has been publishing regular articles on insurance coverage, a baseline list of needed coverage is discussed here.

The second part of the trifecta is the local agent or broker. We have heard clearly over the years from snow contractors that they appreciate and value the relationship they have with their local agents. This is incredibly important. You want someone you can trust and who understands your business. This person should also evaluate your annual renewals, and search diligently for competitive rates from a variety of providers if you feel your premium rates are not competitive. Similar to how you use an attorney or an accountant, a knowledgeable insurance agent is an essential asset to your business.

The actual insurance company, or provider, completes the trifecta. Check the longevity, financial strength, customer reviews, and their claims process. Talk with your agent on the extent that your provider will challenge frivolous claims or situations where an accident occurred out of your scope of work or responsibility. Will they challenge a claim that could affect your future claim history?

When putting together your insurance trifecta, snow contractors consistently want to have options on the agents and providers they choose. If you’re among those looking for options, SIMA has them. We have relationships with several agents and providers that have the knowledge and experience with other snow and ice companies and can identify the appropriate and cost effective coverage you need. SIMA members can find these SIMA-approved insurance providers here.

Unlike at the race track, don’t make your trifecta a gamble, consider it a safe bet for success.

Martin Tirado, CAE is the Executive Director for the Snow & Ice Management Association and can be reached at 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Snow professionals value community service

By Brian Birch
I will keep this October, SIMA and Snow Business magazine featured three snow removal contractors who went above and beyond the average business and gave back in a big way to their communities. I just wanted to make sure you all had a chance to see these great video interviews from our 2012 Community Service Initiative, this is a perfect example of how great the people in our industry can be! Special thanks to Boss Snowplows for their sponsorship support of this project.

Rick Huffman, CSP for Convoy of Hope
Read the entire article

Jensen Gardens for Snowcare For Troops
Read the entire article

Wade Landscaping for Muscular Distrophy Association

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SIMA advocates for safe holiday shopping

By Brian Birch
As part of a larger advocacy initiative here at SIMA called the Impact of Snow, SIMA is working hard to spread the good word about the value of professional snow removal to the media and the public at large.

Just this month, prior to the first major shopping week of the holiday season, we put out our first set of releases focused on safe holiday shopping and walking safely on ice and snow.

The message may seem a bit broad if you are a snow contractor reading this, but our initial goal is to develop long lasting relationships with media outlets, as well as make sure that snow and ice and its inherent safety risks aren’t ignored during this hectic time of year.

We created these tips in the hopes that people will do simple things to avoid injury while they move from the parking lot into the mall or retail store. We hear on the news all the time about the dangers of driving in snow, but no one ever focuses on the challenges and risks of walking in it! If we can get more awareness out there, for example, on just wearing the proper footwear when going out in a storm, we can have an impact.

Check out what we’ve achieved so far:
  • Safe Winter Walking press release picked up in several outlets in early November, click here for an example.
  • 7 regional web news sites have picked up our 5 Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping this Winter release, click here for an example.
  • Martin Tirado, SIMA’s Executive Director, just finished up a radio interview for a major radio program for WBAL Radio in Maryland, we will link to the interview ASAP once it’s available.
Special thanks to Pro-Tech Manufacturing and Distribution as the sponsor of the Impact of Snow initiative. Their support is making it possible for SIMA to spread the word about quality snow & ice management and the value it provides to everyone affected by winter weather.

What can you do to help?
  • Download the 5 tips image (the image at the top of this blog, right click and save it) and share it on Facebook or in other areas you think might grow our awareness impact.
  • Link to this Blog in your social media spaces and let your colleagues in snow see what we are doing.
  • Follow SIMA on Facebook and share our awareness-related posts with your friends and family.
  • Share your thoughts on this initiative below, and we are always seeking ideas and topics that highlight the value of services provided by all of you in the industry, so feel free to share those as well or email them to
Brian Birch, CAE is the Assistant Executive Director for the Snow & Ice Management Association and can be reached at

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Politics and Legislative Issues for Snow & Ice Professionals

By Martin Tirado
Another Presidential and Congressional election has ended and not in a favorable way for the majority of SIMA snow and ice contractors, according to a recent SIMA survey. All told, 117 million Americans headed to the polls on November 6 to elect a President and other congressional, state, and local officials with President Barack Obama winning the electoral college and the popular vote with 60.7 million total votes to Governor Mitt Romney’s 57.8 million votes. If you were looking for structural change in the legislative branch of our government, it’s not happening anytime soon as Democrats will continue to maintain a majority in the Senate while Republicans have their majority in the House.

Where do SIMA members fall on the political spectrum and what issues are important to them? In a survey of members held just prior to the election, the results were:

  • 85% of respondents planned to vote for Gov. Romney, with only 8% for President Obama. The remaining respondents were undecided.
  • Political leaning was slightly different, with 75% conservative, 16% moderate, 5% ‘other’, and only 2.5% liberal.
  • 95% vote on a regular basis.
  • Interestingly, the top three legislative and regulatory issues of importance were, in descending order of importance, 1) opposing Obamacare; 2) reduce government spending and debt; and, 3) Taxes - business and estate. A notable 4th was changing energy policies to reduce the cost of gasoline and other energy fuels.
  • 72% support the legislative and regulatory issues of other associations such as PLANET, TCIA and others. 
  • Members felt that SIMA could best advocate for them at the state level (50%) with federal advocacy second (33%).

So what does this mean for SIMA and snow and ice professionals? It helps us clarify our thoughts on advocacy and sets the groundwork for what direction SIMA will take in the future. For issue development, after the election it’s clear that Obamacare is going to be a reality for the near future for small businesses. Now let’s take the provisions of Obamacare and educate SIMA members how they can live with and even prosper under the new law. With the law being so new, it’s difficult to tell what the short and long term impacts will be. We need further information on the impact of this legislation on snow and ice companies.

What’s generally important is for us to effectively tell our story of the challenges, issues, and essential services that snow and ice professionals provide as safety and risk managers during inclement winter weather. To advocate for what we do. To then advocate our issues to legislators, our customers and potential customers, the insurance industry, litigation attorneys, and the general public. We have an important story to tell, and I hope over time we are able to deliver that story in a positive, professional way.

Martin Tirado, CAE is the Executive Director for the Snow & Ice Management Association and can be reached at 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why does Snow Matter?

By Brian Birch
The launch of SIMA's new blog is part of an overall effort from the association to provide quality news and advocacy to our industry, and to the public, about the importance of professional snow management in the modern world.

But why did we choose ‘Snow Matters’, you might ask? The name of the blog implies two things:

First, the blog will be focused solely on matters that are relevant and important to snow professionals and our industry.

Second, we want the world to know that the services snow professionals provide are an essential part of our economy and our culture …in a nutshell, snow management matters a great deal to everyone in areas affected by winter weather.

Over the years, I've often referred to this industry as the ‘invisible industry’, because no one seems to think of snow removal until they are standing knee deep in snow. To raise the level of awareness about our industry’s value will be a great challenge, but within that challenge lays tremendous opportunity.

Our first step in an overhaul of SIMA public relations efforts is to create this space to celebrate the achievements of our volunteers, Board, and the association as we do the good work of moving this industry forward.

So yes, we have a clever name for the blog, but we’ll need more than that! Over the next several months we hope you will see that Snow Matters will be a place to discuss important issues, share achievements within the industry, and generate some meaningful dialogue together. Please share any thoughts in the comments on what you’d like to see here at Snow Matters moving forward.

Brian Birch, CAE is the Assistant Executive Director for the Snow & Ice Management Association and can be reached at