BLOG NUMBER 19.71
Every man-made structure has load-bearing limits. These limits determine the amount of weight that can be borne without total collapse or other serious changes in structural integrity. They are established by product designers and engineers, and then disclosed at the time of sale. Certain load-bearing limits are easy to understand, and easy adhere to. For instance, if your vehicle has a roof rack, you probably have a clear idea of how much cargo you can attach before you’re at risk of damaging both the accessory and the auto itself. However, with a home, a commercial building, a separate garage, or an outdoor shed, the amount of weight that ultimately gets loaded onto these structures is dependent upon factors that property owners can’t always control. During heavy winters, they might become overloaded with snow, ice, or sleet. Excess weight can lead to buckling, warping, bowing, and many other structural damages. It can even lead to a total roofing collapse and serious physical harm.
In addition to the weight of ice, snow, or sleet, property owners also have to account for other weather-related events, and their effects on the integrity of roofs, plumbing systems, and other property features. For instance, strong winds paired with heavy snow loads can result in broken tree limbs that may come crashing down onto buildings themselves, or onto a company’s patrons. Freezing temperatures can lead to burst pipes and many other forms of serious and potentially widespread plumbing damage. Events like these frequently create the need for expensive property repairs. They can also cause tenants and visitors substantial physical harm. Fortunately, business owners in regions that are susceptible to severe winter weather can benefit from special coverage that protects against both premises liability suits and weather-related building damage.
Painful Perils and Making Sure That Your Business Is Protected
For business owners, protection against damages and potential injuries caused by extreme weather events exist in general liability insurance policies, and in property damage insurance. Property damage insurance covers a variety events including:
- Commercial fleet damage
- Smoke damage
- Sprinkler system leaks
However, coverage for damages caused by the weight of ice, snow, or sleet is often only obtained by binding additional insurance. Secondary or supplementary plans will keep your company protected from damages caused by these wintertime weather elements, falling objects, and broken glass.
When you own your own company, the state of your commercial building is hardly your only concern. You have to consider how falling icicles, heavy loads of snow-melt, tree branches, and other objects might impact the safety and well-being of your customers. If someone visiting your commercial property is struck by a falling object, this can lead to disfiguring or incapacitating injuries. It can also lead to lasting harm such as traumatic brain injury, vision loss, or even death. Paying for regular snow and ice removal services is essential for performing your duty of care. In areas that are prone to heavy snow, it’s additionally vital to ensure that your general liability insurance is sufficiently robust for covering all weather-related, personal injury events.
To further minimize the risk of personal injuries, your duty of care should include other forms of building maintenance. For example, routinely clearing off your roof will prevent freezing, thawing, and refreezing from adding too much weight to this structure. This is especially important to do if your commercial building has a flat roof, or a roof with a minimal slope. If heavy snow loads are a persistent problem, having additional roof insulation installed can help. Adequate insulation will seal off air leaks and facilitate faster snow-melt, thereby preventing build-ups. If you’re dealing with a weather-related premises liability issue, we can help. Call us today at (816) 564-9131.
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