While winter can bring many businesses an increase in sales because of the holidays, it can also bring extreme and hazardous weather. To prepare, make sure you have winter essentials, such as salt and shovels, especially if your employees and customers will be physically coming to your business.
You’ll also want to review your insurance policies and consider how winter weather could affect your business liabilities and if you have proper coverage. For example, not having the proper insurance if someone slips and falls on ice at your store can end in a costly lawsuit. To protect your business, employees, and customers, make sure you have the following insurance policies in place before winter hits.
- Commercial Auto Insurance
Commercial auto insurance is a must if your employees travel for their job. Whether they’re visiting customers, picking up or dropping off orders, or traveling to different work sites, your business can be responsible for your employees’ medical bills in the case of an accident.
During winter, auto accidents increase as ice, snow, and low visibility produce more road hazards. Having commercial auto insurance will pay for your employees’ medical bills in case of an accident. It will also help cover the costs of repairing or replacing your company vehicles.
- Business Property Insurance
Business property insurance pays for property and equipment at your business in the case of a disaster. How expensive your property insurance is and what it covers can vary by state and industry. However, during winter, it generally covers storm-related property damage, burst pipes, or roof cavings.
Keep in mind that different agencies have different definitions of storm-related damage. Additionally, different insurance agencies may not cover all storm-related damage. As such, if you already have property insurance, you’ll want to talk to your insurance provider about what you’re covered for before the winter weather comes to your area.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for most businesses in the U.S. While requirements and coverage may vary by state, it generally helps pay for medical costs, lost wages, and death benefits in the case of a workplace injury.
Many businesses see an increase in workers’ comp claims during the winter. The ice around your building can call slips and falls, as can puddles of melted snow on your building’s floors. Pulled backs, sprains, and other injuries can be costly for both you and your employees if you don’t have adequate workers’ comp. To protect your business in the case of a workplace accident, be sure that you have at least the minimum coverage your state requires.
- General Liability Insurance
Not only can your employees slip and fall on ice and melted snow, but so can your customers. You’ll need general liability insurance for commercial businesses to protect your business in the case of a lawsuit from an injured customer. General liability insurance covers medical and legal expenses if your business injures a third-party individual, including customers and clients, or damages their property.
If your business uses contracted workers or other companies to pick up holiday slack, check with your state’s guidelines to see if you need to add them to your liability insurance. You may still be reliable if contracted or independent workers cause someone injury or damage someone’s property. When this is the case, you may want to add them to your insurance while they’re working for you.
- Business Interruption Insurance
Severe weather can shut down your business. If winter storms are likely to close your doors during winter, you’ll want business interruption insurance. Without it, you won’t be able to get compensation for a loss of income due to snow or ice storms.
Business interruption insurance helps you gain compensation for lost income in the event of a natural disaster or a physical loss. For instance, if your building sustains damage during a storm, this insurance can help pay for a temporary location. Check with your provider to see if your policy covers payroll, taxes, loan payments, or other expenses during a natural disaster.
Preparing Your Business for Winter
If you live in a climate that experiences rough winter weather, you’ll want to check that your insurance policies are up to date. Winter weather can close your doors, damage your property, or even increase the risk of injury for your customers and employees. As such, it’s crucial to ensure you have the necessary insurance coverage to protect yourself against a slew of winter-related hazards.