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It’s that time of year again. As the daylight gets shorter, it’s a reminder that winter is upon us. It’s also a reminder to take some precautionary measures to ensure your operation makes it through the winter season without suffering any of the common causes of loss.

2019 Winter Weather Preparedness: Ice and Snow; Freezing Pipes; Fire

Ice and Snow

Most of the country had a wetter-than-average winter.1 Snow can accumulate on roofs, in gutters, on sidewalks, stairs and drives creating lots of problems. Be sure to:

  • Have your gutters cleaned to ensure melting snow can run freely, inspect roofs and make any necessary repairs. Escaping heat can cause melting, which leads to re-freezing and the creation of ice dams that can lead to further roof and interior damage.
  • Monitor levels of falling snow. Wet heavy snow can weigh a lot, and can cause some roofs to collapse, particularly flat roofs. Be sure your flat roofs are cleared when you have a significant snow.
  • Clear exterior walkways and stairs. Ice melt is encouraged to ensure the pathways stay clear and dry; maintain adequate lighting in all areas.
  • Monitor for and address water build-up in entry ways from shoes and wind. This reduces potentially dangerous conditions that could lead to slip and falls for your visitors, clients and staff.

Freezing Pipes

Many parts of the country experienced significant freezing temperatures last winter. Much of the West had a record cold February.1 As a consequence, many Insureds suffered damage from frozen, bursting pipes. Now is the time to:

  • Visually inspect the exterior of your building, seal any air leaks, and repair any damage that may be found to your roof as a result of age and weather.
  • Ensure exposed pipes are wrapped with insulation – this includes pipes that may run along roof lines.
  • Confirm water is shut off to outside spigots, and hoses have been disconnected and stored.
  • Cover outside spigots, particularly if the source of water cannot be shut off.
  • Check that all inside connections are tight, and sprinkler systems have been inspected and tested.
  • Allow a faucet to drip warm water, slowly, particularly during long cold snaps.
  • Confirm that all areas of your buildings have heat, particularly when your premises may be closed for extended periods such as weekends and holidays. If warranted, remove ceiling tiles to ensure piping is heated, cabinet doors and attic access are left open.


Heating is the second leading cause in home fires, deaths and injuries.2 Don’t let fire cause you a devastating loss. Here are some tips to help reduce the potential of fire:

  • Be sure to have your heating system inspected and serviced to ensure it is functioning optimally.
  • Have any chimneys inspected and cleaned.
  • Limit or eliminate the use of portable space heaters. Where allowed, the areas must be kept clear of combustibles. The units should have an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approval; the units should shut off automatically should they get tipped over.
  • Never allow the use of candles in business areas.
  • Never allow the use of any gas or propane heating device inside an enclosed area.
  • Limit/prohibit the use of extension cords.

A few key winter preparation tasks will help ensure safety of your property, clients and employees, and help reduce the financial hardships that losses can create.


Products and services are provided by one or more insurance company subsidiaries of W. R. Berkley Corporation. Not all products and services are available in every jurisdiction, and the precise coverage afforded by any insurer is subject to the actual terms and conditions of the policies as issued.

This information is provided for general educational purposes only. This information is not intended to provide you with legal advice or legal counsel, and is not intended to assure compliance with or complete analysis of any law, rule or regulation. In addition, this information should not be interpreted to imply that all exposures, hazards or loss potentials on any subject or issue were identified or considered. No warranty, or guaranty of accuracy, fitness or suitability, express or implied, is granted with respect to any of the information contained herein.


1. NOAA, Winter Outlook 2018-19: How’d we do
2. NFPA, Put a Freeze on Winter Fires