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'Crazy' insurance fees will feel like snow job to Orillians this winter

'The price of everything is going up. COVID has caused chaos for everyone, and this doesn’t help,' says frustrated owner of Men in Kilts
20190216 snow removal tractor
Orillia snow removal businesses are expecting to lose a good chunk of their customers this winter due to skyrocketing insurance prices. File photo

If you hire a contractor for snow removal at your home or business, you could pay significantly more for the service this winter. 

Hewitt Farms & Snowplowing Services have raised their rates by 25 per cent this winter due to a massive increase in insurance costs.

“Our liability insurance went up 250 per cent. It’s out of control,” said Al Hewitt, who operates Hewitt Farms & Snowplowing Services.

“This has been coming for a long time because of the small slip and fall claims that happen, and the insurance companies would rather pay them than fight them, which means it goes back on the policy owner," he explained.

Hewitt expects the insurance rates to get even steeper in the future.

“We need some kind of amnesty protection (because) when you live in Canada you can’t control the conditions of the parking lot 24 hours a day."

So far, Hewitt says customers have been understanding of the increased rates.

“They don’t like it, but there is nothing we can do about it, and they know that,” he said.

Hewitt fully expects to lose customers; the company has also decided to let go of commercially-owned property contacts.

“We are letting go of high-risk places like strip malls because there are too many people around. We are letting go of apartment buildings because there are too many people moving around both day and night. They just aren’t worth touching,” he explained.

Hewitt projects that his snow removal business will fold within a year or two because of the unattainable insurance rates.

Men in Kilts Orillia owner and operator Derek Kerwin says there are fewer insurance companies than ever who will insure for snow removal.

“The ones that are allowing us to be insured are giving us some crazy fees. Last year, we had to pay $32,000 for the year when, normally, I would only pay $5,000 for the year,” he explained.

Kerwin expects the inflated prices to result in a massive loss of customers.

“It’s hard enough to get customers in the winter because of all of the $10, non-insured kids running around trying to make a quick buck,” he said.

To try and ease the financial burden for their customers, Men in Kilts Orillia is offering to pay the tax if they agree to a five-month contract that includes unlimited snowfall clearings.

Kerwin fears that some of his customers who need his services the most, such as financially-strapped seniors, property managers at apartment buildings, malls, casinos, and churches, will soon not be able to afford it.

“The price of everything is going up. COVID has caused chaos for everyone, and this doesn’t help,” he said.