The first day of the 2017/2018 winter season officially falls on Thursday, December 21st, so now is a good time to start thinking about how to prepare your Lehigh Valley business for the wonderful snow, sleet and freezing temperatures that a northeast winter brings. Here are some tips to help protect your business from winter weather (and liability)!
Make sure your building is prepared for winter storms.
1. Have your heater serviced
Have an annual heater service performed to help ensure it is in good working order and should not fail during winter. Losing heat will cause the inside building temperature to drop and can lead to bursting pipes.
2. Clean your gutters
Gutters funnel water off the roof and away from the building. Clogged gutters filled with water or ice can collapse, leaving water falling too close to your building (which can cause erosion and eventually lead to water damage).
Clogged gutters can also lead to “ice damming”, resulting in water leaking under the roof. This can damage insulation, ceilings and rooms. Ice damming can also cause icicles to form, which can cause injury to employees, visitors and those just passing by.
Inspect your gutters to make sure they are in good shape, have no holes or gaps where water can leak and that they are clear of leaves or any other obstruction.
3. Disconnect any hoses connected to outside water faucets
To prevent water from backing up and bursting a water pipe, disconnect any hoses connected to outside faucets. For an extra ounce of prevention, purchase an inexpensive faucet cover (The foam ones usually cost less than $3) to place over your outside faucets as well
4. Prepare for a power outage
Consider installing a generator to come on automatically in the event of a power outage, especially if you deal in perishables. A generator can also power lights to come on to help employees and customers safely find their way during a power outage.
Protect your business from the unexpected with Commercial Property Insurance and Commercial General Liability Insurance.
Commercial Property Insurance is what protects your Lehigh Valley business against damage incurred by winter storms. A loss of electrical power, burst pipes or flooding due to snow are just a few circumstances that can have a negative effect on your business.
For purposes of winter losses, commercial property insurance typically covers:
- Your building: This usually pertains to the structure, but can include permanent fixtures, equipment and machinery
- Contents of your building: Including inventory, office equipment and supplies
It’s important to note that some policies exclude coverage for a roof collapse due to snow. Review your policy with a Lehigh Valley Independent Insurance Agent before winter weather is in full swing to verify if you have the proper commercial property coverage for your business.
Commercial General Liability Insurance can help protect you, your business and your employees from a variety of claims including bodily injury, personal injury, property damage and other claims that can arise from your business operations.
For purposes of winter liability, commercial general liability insurance typically covers:
- Bodily injury or property damage: Example of someone slipping on ice outside your building or on a wet floor inside
- Medical payments: Helps cover medical costs if someone sustains an injury at your business
- Damage to property: Helps protect against certain claims alleging financial loss due to property damage
Keep your sidewalks, walkways and parking lot clear when snow is in the forecast.
If you handle ice and snow removal yourself, make checking the local weather forecast part of your daily morning routine. It’s also a good idea to develop and implement a written snow and ice removal plan.
Here are some things to consider:
- Designate specific roles your employees are to perform in helping with snow removal, wet floor attention, warning signs, etc.
- Ensure those employees assigned to snow removal are physically able to perform the job, and that they are provided with proper training and equipment
- Require proper attire to be worn to prevent any injury (non-slip or slip resistant boots are recommended)
- If freezing temperatures, sleet or any precipitation are predicted, salt your sidewalks, walkways and curbing (you may need to do this the night before AND in the morning)
- Have snow removed at least 20 minutes before you unlock your doors for business
- Make sure the snow is cleared at the time you open your doors for business
- Snow should be cleared throughout the day as it accumulates while your business is open
- Wet flooring due to snow, slush and moisture brought in from outside is a liability waiting to happen. Place rubber mats or carpets near ALL entrances and exits to help reduce the risk of someone slipping and falling. Place visible signage warning of slippery surfaces and immediately mop/wipe any areas that need attention
- If the snow accumulation is too much for you to handle, hire a snow removal company to do it for you. Make sure they provide you verifiable proof of insurance in case an incident occurs as a result of their negligence
- Post brightly colored signs on the outside and inside of your building, warning patrons of possible slippery surfaces
As a business owner, you have worked hard to establish your enterprise, and keeping it financially healthy is always important. Weather disaster planning can help you avoid financial losses. The time to prepare for winter weather risks is now before the heavy winter storms hit. If you wait until the threat is imminent, you will run out of time and likely be underprepared for what is coming.
If you have questions or want to learn more about protecting your Lehigh Valley business from winter liability, speak with our Lehigh Valley insurance experts. We can design a business insurance policy customized to your specific business needs.Arbor Insurance Group provides Commercial Property Insurance, Commercial General Liability Insurance and other business insurance products throughout the Lehigh Valley, including Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Emmaus, Macungie and surrounding areas.