The cold winters bring in a unique set of difficulties. While this is true for all of us, there is a special challenge for small businesses that depend on their ability to sell through their retail establishments or to deliver services. Winter creates treacherous conditions both inside and outside for these businesses.
A day of heavy snow, or a blizzard, can impact small businesses in numerous ways. If your business is in an area that experiences harsh winters, early planning is crucial. Winter storms batter us across much of the Atlantic Coasts. As you can imagine, this can cause severe damage to the business.
It’s not wrong to say that small businesses worry more than most when a snowstorm strikes. They face a double blow at this time. The weather prevents some of their impulse or causal customers from reaching them. And they have to prepare themselves to face up to some of the hazards the weather throws their way.
The various risks small business owners can come across in severe winters are:
- Driving on Company Time: A major concern during winters is employees who drive the company’s vehicle as part of their work. It’s important to give all the vehicles a safety check before the bad climate hits. The car should be equipped with emergency materials like snow scraper, blanket, emergency first aid kit, and a flashlight. Employees should also be instructed to dress according to the weather to be ready for a breakdown or accident.
To protect the business from liability, employees who are supposed to drive in adverse weather conditions should be trained in safe, cautious driving techniques and measures to take in case of an accident to ensure their safety.
That kind of effort includes finding reasonable small business insurance coverage for such situations. Driving in winter can be a drag but it is possible to create a cheerful and healthy working environment during the coldest time of the year.
- Property Damage from Weather: Winter doesn’t merely make walkways and streets slippery; it can also cause severe damage to the business infrastructure. Cold temperatures lead to frozen pipes, and heavy snow can also send trees and powerlines tumbling to the ground. To prevent property damage in winters, inspection during the fall is essential. Making roofs, doors, and windows sturdy to last through the winter becomes mandatory. Proper insulation and heat circulation is necessary to keep pipes from bursting. It is essential to review your insurance policies and find out more about the coverage the policy provides.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls: Snowy parking lots and driveways, floors wet with melted snow, and power cords winding out from the space heater, these are wintertime staples. But they also pose massive risks to people. If an accident happens at the business there could be severe implications. You may have to pay for the cost of the ambulance and associated medical bills. In case of more damage, there could be liabilities to assume and worker’s compensation to make up. Talk to your insurance agency to understand if the coverage you have is adequate?
- Icy Driveways and Sidewalks: Regardless of whether you have customers visiting your establishment or are expecting a package, snow can cause problems in the driveways, walkways, and sidewalks leading up to your business. A person who slips and hurts themselves on the ice could, potentially, hold your business liable for the cost of treatment of the injury and for other damages. Does your insurance protect you enough?
- Business Interruption: Heavy snow or severe winters can force businesses to close their doors unexpectedly. This might lead to a loss of revenue for a short or extended period of time. Additionally, business owners also need to be prepared for medium-term issues like power blackouts. Power outages could also cause other problems like damage to perishable goods. It’s important to check how you are protected from such occurrences? Ask your agent to explain to you which policy covers such incidents? And for how much?
Making it through the winter comes down to preparation. Some precautionary measures to be taken by business owners during winters include:
Avoid pipes freezing by maintaining the required temperature.
Keep internal doors open to allow warm air to circulate.
Isolate the water supply going to any outside taps.
Make sure that the water tanks and pipes are adequately insulated.
Service the boiler before the winter.
And, of course, talk to your insurance agency to get a clear picture of the possible risks and how to protect your business from them.
There’s no wishing away the winter. It will be back next year. The only question is, how equipped will you be to face it?