RI Regulators Give Guidance on Snowplow Insurance Implications

Just a week after the official start of winter, Rhode Island officials are warning residents that the colder months bring not only an increased chance of snow and ice, but also some auto insurance considerations that may not always come to mind.

Meteorologists have predicted that many parts of the country will experience below-average temperatures this winter, which officially began on Dec. 22. And state regulators say residents of the Ocean State should keep in the mind the need for adequate financial protection, whether they’re clearing the driveway or zipping along on a snowmobile.

Car with snowplowAccording to an advisory on the state Department of Business Regulation’s website, motorists who have snow plows on their trucks should be covered for liability and property damage if they are clearing the white stuff away from their own homes or are volunteering to dig out around friends’ houses. But a private vehicle policy will likely not cover those who are plowing snow to make a few extra bucks.

Rhode Island regulators say drivers who accept money for using their snow plows should consider getting a commercial vehicle policy that includes coverage for plowing before they lower their blades. And officials urge residents who are unsure about their coverage needs to contact their insurers or the department with their car insurance questions or concerns.

Extreme winter weather is nothing new to most residents of Rhode Island and the other New England states, which were hit with a surprise snow storm in October that killed more than two dozen people and knocked out electricity to about a million residents. Insurance industry experts have predicted that storm will generate thousands of claims for damages filed by homeowner and vehicle policyholders.

The storm came less than three months after Tropical Storm Irene struck the East Coast, killing dozens of people in multiple states and causing an estimated $7.3 billion in insured losses, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But regulators say that even the most hardened veterans of frigid winters can overlook some situations in which it pays to be insured against weather-related losses, including while riding around on a snowmobile.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), those conveyances are not covered under most homeowner renter or vehicle coverage policies.

NAIC officials say those who are planning to snowmobile should talk with their coverage providers about a separate snowmobile policy, especially if they are planning to ride away from their own property. And if the snowmobile is a rental, consumers should definitely consider insuring it, just in case the fun ends in an accident, according to the organization.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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