Winter-Ready: Tools to lighten the (snow) load
Last winter was a nightmare. In the US alone, there were 11 winter storms and cold waves in the first half of 2015, resulting in $3.8 billion in overall losses and $2.9 billion in insured losses, which reached a record high for insured losses. Boston took the prize for the largest snowfall tally of the year with more than 104 inches.
Many Boston sports fans wondered if Fenway Park would be cleared of snow in time for baseball’s Opening Day on April 13, 2015. According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the extreme snowfall accumulations and bitterly cold temperatures contributed to 270 reported incidents of collapsed roofs and buildings. The snow load and roof collapse issues were so unusual and extreme that the FEMA Building Science Branch of the Flood Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) sent a team of engineers and architects to several Massachusetts communities to investigate roof damage and partial collapses of public school buildings.
And the US was not alone. Severe winter weather also caused chaos for many across parts of Europe. Some parts of Sweden had the most snow in the last 50 years. Italy and Spain were among the countries that saw significant arctic weather last year.
What’s ahead for the coming winter in the Western hemisphere? It looks like a mixed forecast but given the strength of this year’s El Nino weather pattern, many predict wetter winter weather. Chicago has already seen more than 12 inches (30 cm) to mark the biggest ever first snowfall for the city, according to the US National Weather Service. During the same weekend that Chicago saw its first snow accumulation, so did parts of the UK, France, Germany and Denmark experienced falling snow and temperatures.
Whatever lies ahead this winter, it’s vital for business not to get caught unprepared when the snow starts falling. Winter weather can cause significant damage. According to the New York-based Insurance Information Institute, winter weather is the No. 3 source of catastrophic insurance claims, after hurricanes and tornadoes.
To help minimize these winter insurance claims, many property insurers work with risk engineers to aid in the underwriting process and to assist clients in taking preventative measures to protect their properties. Here are some helpful tools from XL Catlin’s Property Risk Engineers/GAPS team to get you started in preparing for the 2016 winter:
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