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Even before winter officially began, we felt its wrath. In mid-November, a destructive storm in the Northeast caused over 400,000 power outages, school closures and major travel disruptions. Drivers in Pennsylvania were stuck in an overnight traffic delay while commuters going over the George Washington Bridge in New York City were stuck for hours due to a multi-vehicle accident. And in early January, a powerful winter storm ripped across Europe, trapping hundreds of people in Alpine regions and causing deadly avalanches in the mountains.

Before the next round of freezing weather, heavy snow or ice arrives, now is the time for business owners to prepare and reduce their risk of property damage and business interruption. To help businesses weather the rest of this wild winter, AXA XL’s Risk Consulting team offers some general guidelines and five detailed checklists to protect your business operations.

General guidelines
Snow load

 What if the snowfall weight exceeds the roof design load? To avoid a building collapse, plan ahead a predetermined snow depth to trigger snow removal. This can be less than 30 cm (1 ft) in regions where buildings are not designed for snow load accumulation.

HVAC systems

  • Make sure to drain outside unprotected pipes or adjust the antifreeze concentration in exposed HVAC systems.
  • Make sure all heating systems are thoroughly checked before the start of the heating season. This includes boilers and their associated steam lines, heaters, heat tracing, etc.

Fire protection systems

  • Make sure all fire protection systems are prepared for winter: drain water from dry systems, test antifreeze to insure proper concentration, confirm heater and low temperature alarm are working on the fire pump room and suction tank, etc.
  • Mark the location of all fire hydrants on site and clear them following any significant snowfall.

Get ahead of the next storm

Download our five Winter Weather Preparation Checklists.

Additional resources to help protect your business

  • Access GAP Guidelines 15.5 addresses Freezing and GAP Guidelines 15.5.1 addresses Arctic Freeze. You can check out other GAP Guidelines here.

AXA XL is a member of The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported solely by property insurers and reinsurers. IBHS’ building safety research leads to real-world solutions for home and business owners, helping to create more resilient communities. Here’s some helpful research-backed guidance from IBHS:

Whatever lies ahead this winter, it’s vital for businesses not to get caught unprepared when the snow starts falling. For additional information on preventing winter-related losses at your facility, please contact your local AXA XL Risk Consultant.


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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

US- and Canada-Issued Insurance Policies

In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
US domiciled insurance policies can be written by the following AXA XL surplus lines insurers: XL Catlin Insurance Company UK Limited, Syndicates managed by Catlin Underwriting Agencies Limited and Indian Harbor Insurance Company. Enquires from US residents should be directed to a local insurance agent or broker permitted to write business in the relevant state.