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Commercial Property Insurance: What You Need to be Covered for Winter

Commercial Property Insurance: What You Need to be Covered for Winter

Commercial Property Insurance: What You Need to be Covered for Winter

Facility maintenance during winter involves a multitude of tiny details along with the major task of snow and ice removal from facility grounds. Yet, one of the ways to protect your company's property in the cold season is to upgrade your commercial property insurance to make sure it covers all of the dangers that winter presents. Some of the most important points of coverage for your commercial building during the winter include the following:

1. Frozen and/or Burst Pipes

Pipes freezing and rupturing is one of the most common problems that facility managers must watch for during sub-zero conditions. This kind of damage requires specialists to come and thaw out the ice in your pipes and sever and replace pipe-sections. Thousands of dollars will be at stake, and the water damage to floors, furnishings, and electronics is often the most costly part.

First, you need to make sure that frozen piping is adequately covered by your policy. Second, you must take proper precautions to ensure that the insurer will pay your claim in the event of an incident. Specifically, you need to have either kept the heat on at a reasonable level or drained the pipes before turning the heat off. Other measures to take include insulating the pipes and wrapping spigots in a towel.

2. Winter Run-Off Damage

Although ordinary commercial property insurance will not cover it, damage from winter run-off floodwaters is a major risk in many parts of the country. In fact, this is the most likely type of flood to hit in many areas, and of course, it is a threat at the end of every single winter. Coverage can be obtained via flood insurance policies, and the NFIP will cover your commercial property up to $500,000 and another $500,000 for its contents. If this is still not sufficient, excess flood insurance policies can be arranged with individual insurers.

3. Hail Damage to Roofs and Parking Lots

Your facility roof, concrete or asphalt parking lot, and even its walkways can all be severely damaged if a major hail storm strikes. Small impacts on shingles will both create an eyesore and destabilize your roofing system. A thin layer of water can creep in through the indentations, even small ones, and then mist up through the roof and pop off the granules. Concrete, and even asphalt, can also become riddled with tiny dents, which will allow salt and ice to penetrate and deteriorate your pavements. It is imperative that hail be covered by your commercial insurance.

4. Ice Dams and Leaks

First of all, you should guard against ice damming with proper upper-story/attic ventilation and insulation. If large amounts of snow fall and are immediately followed by extremely low temperatures, however, you may not be able to prevent an ice dam from forming. In this case, you will want your insurance to cover the damage they can do to your roofing and the leaks that may develop from the backed-up water on your roof.

5. Roof Collapse

The most basic coverage to be sure you possess is that against roof collapse due to heavy blankets of snow and sheets of ice. Not every policy will include this coverage, however, so it is crucial to check with your broker. Rooftop snow removal can be used to reduce the pressure on roof structures, but if suddenly piled on before you can react, you will want to know you are covered.

Commercial buildings face many sever winter challenges, and a good number of these can be covered by property insurance. From the rooftop to the crawlspace pipes, everything must be covered.

Make Sure These 4 Items are in Your Commercial Snow Removal Contract

Make Sure These 4 Items are in Your Commercial Snow Removal Contract

Make Sure These 4 Items are in Your Commercial Snow Removal Contract

Commercial managers appreciate the importance of fast, efficient, and professional snow removal from their premises. Snow build-up causes delays, foot and vehicle traffic build-up, property damage, and pedestrian accidents that could lead to costly lawsuits. Slip and fall accidents are among the most common liabilities that commercial properties have to contend with.

That being said, it is not surprising that companies want their parking lots and walkways cleared of snow and ice as quickly as possible. However, in their haste to get the job done, many managers may have overlooked some important aspects when signing their contracts, and are now paying the cost of shoddy snow removal jobs.

Are you wondering whether you chose well when selecting your snow removal company? Take a look here to see if your contract covers these essential areas:

#1 Insurance

While this may not make a difference to the quality of work being done, proper insurance should be the first thing you check into. This is vital because if any damage is done during the snow removal process (and this is an incredibly common occurrence when removing snow and ice), you want to make sure the service will be covered under adequate insurance to pay for those damages. Large vehicles, hazardous terrains, and sharp equipment can easily cause damage that, without insurance, will quickly accumulate into astronomical bills.

Ask your current snow removal service to show you their insurance policy. Documentation should be easily provided by a legitimate company, along with proof that both workmen’s comp and liability coverage is included. Companies can obtain the proper insurance as well as earn a ranking on the Accredited Snow Contractors Association for safe, timely, quality services provided.

Additionally, tracking services such as GPS will ensure that employees and equipment locations are easily verifiable. Once again, this prevents any questions about liability in case of an accident. Make sure your company tracks both the workers they employ and the vehicles being used throughout the job.

#2 Timing

One of the most important aspects of snow removal is timing. A thorough job done two days after a storm is hardly satisfactory service, and it won’t help keep your facilities running smoothly. The average response time will range between one and three hours. If your guys are taking much longer than this, then your employees, customers, and residents are probably already standing around waiting for mounds of snow to be removed, irritated and disappointed.

#3 Scope of Service

Different companies will provide a range of services for your business, and while not all are imperative, your present snow removal service should cover several of these in order to be considered a comprehensive and worthwhile service. For example:

  • Full facility clearage: Which areas does your company clear? Do they include sidewalks, pathways, and parking lot snow removal? Are entranceways included in their service?
  • Full removal: Where is the snow removed to? Is it a full service, removing the snow from the entire premises? Or do they simply clear the paths and leave large snow banks?
  • Location-specific materials: What type of de-icers and preventative measures are being used? This is a particularly relevant question for businesses that may have a need for more sensitive materials. Businesses with plant life, wildlife, or children in the vicinity will want to double check that none of the materials being used are hazardous. In these situations, industrial heated snow melting mats may be a better option.

#4 Communication

How well does your snow removal service communicate with you? Is their customer service friendly and responsive? How long does it take to get a representative on the phone?

If you can’t get in touch with your snow removal company before the storm, then they certainly won’t be much good to you when the snow starts falling either. Companies should be easy to contact, available for questions, and responsive to your needs.

If your current snow removal company isn’t providing you with the best service possible, then you should start looking into alternative professional commercial snow removal companies before winter starts. This way, you don’t have to settle for an inferior service that will deliver subpar results. Follow these guidelines, and ensure that your commercial property is clean and clear all winter long.

How Much Will a Slip and Fall Injury Cost You?

How Much Will a Slip and Fall Injury Cost You?

How Much Will a Slip and Fall Injury Cost You?

Facility managers are often charged with making critical decisions regarding liability protection that will affect their facilities’ bottom line. While preventative measures to guard against lawsuits can seem to take a huge bite out of profits, it is nevertheless essential for those in charge of safety and maintenance to understand how even one slip and fall injury due to snowy or icy conditions can result in a significant business loss. It is incumbent upon those tasked with facility maintenance decisions to monitor these risks and take appropriate action to prevent these injuries.

The Actual Numbers are Staggering

The Snow and Ice Management Association and the Maine Department of Labor have analyzed some alarming facts concerning the cost of snow- and ice-related slip and fall injuries. The MDOL supplied the statistics from the 2012 and 2013 winter seasons, which, incidentally, were two of the mildest New England winters in recent history. What these studies found, along with research conducted by top insurance companies, is that the average claim for an individual who suffers a snow- or ice-related falling injury is a whopping $33,000. If that injury happens to occur at the person’s place of business and qualifies as a worker’s compensation claim, the average cost rises to $48,000.

After looking at these numbers, it becomes clear that spending money to mitigate risk is, in fact, a critically important investment, and one that must be adequately conveyed to upper management.

Liability Insurance Only Solves Part of the Problem

Wise commercial enterprises take out ample insurance policies to protect against costs related to injuries suffered by employees, visitors, and customers. But these liability policies can present a false sense of security for a business, because filing even one claim is likely to result in an increased insurance premium for years to come. The average business policyholder’s claim history will follow the business for seven years, even through a change in insurance companies.

The Payout Gap

Insurance coverage is a large expense for every business, and naturally, the most affordable insurance policies come with higher deductibles. The average slip-and-fall claim, while an onerous drain on business resources, may still fall under the deductible for an affordable policy, and thus, be ineligible for reimbursement.

In the event that you are able to surpass the deductible threshold, your particular policy may still not cover the cost of the claim. According to a study by insurance industry leader The Hartford, the average payout for a slip-and-fall injury is only $20,000. Compare that with the average claim of $33,000, and your business could be out $13,000, even if you’ve met your deductible.

Your Employee’s Simple Walk to the Car Can Cost Thousands

Workforce accidents make up a large percentage of snow and ice slip and fall injuries. Companies where employees work outdoors in winter months may seem to be the most vulnerable, but the Maine Department of Labor statistics shows some interesting results regarding the majority of snow- and ice-related mishaps. Figure 5 in a report entitled, Slipping and Falling on Ice—A Serious Workplace Hazard demonstrates that the largest percentage of injuries occur not while individuals are performing specific work tasks, but instead more commonly happen in transit, as workers travel to and from their vehicles and the worksite.

An Affordable Insurance Policy Against Costly Claims

Paying to protect against things that may never occur is not a cost enthusiastically borne by companies that have limited resources or other business growth expenses that take priority. And your organization won’t be able to guard against every possible injury to customers and employees that may occur on your property. But slip-and-fall injuries in snowy or icy conditions pose a huge financial risk to your business. Therefore, it makes sense for facility managers to search for ways to keep costs down by smart preventative measures that can protect workers, customers, and visitors from dangerous conditions.