With winter storm season well and truly underway, homeowners and business owners across North America are battling the elements in order to avoid costly insurance claims. But, sometimes winter’s wrath gets a one-up on the average Joe and the help of experts is required.
is an independent Canadian disaster restoration services provider, offering remediation, restoration and reconstruction services nationwide, and for the US large loss and commercial market. It’s one of many restoration companies across eastern provinces and states of North America that’s completely snowed under with work as a result of claims filed after the deadly bomb cyclone.
In Halifax alone, FirstOnSite has had close to 500 claims since the bomb cyclone struck – a huge increase from the 25 claims per week the company might normally receive in those local offices.
“It has been a huge logistical challenge. We’ve had to bring in assistance from other FirstOnSite branches in different provinces, and get project managers and trained staff into Atlantic Canada
to help us service our clients after this winter storm,” said Kevin Clarke, EVP branch operations and SVP Prairies, FirstOnSite Restoration.
“The storm brought snow, ice, high winds and cold temperatures, which led to frozen pipes, building damage and ice damming – all of the ugly stuff. It’s difficult because the safety of our employees has to come first and foremost. We can’t send people up to repair a roof if it’s a sheet of ice. It has been a big operation.”
As well as providing restoration services, FirstOnSite has also launched a winter storms resource page explaining how homeowners, commercial property owners and property managers can take steps to prepare for winter storms and mitigate likely damage.
The company highlights four key danger zones
where damage is most likely to occur:
Roof – A roof’s slope can affect how much snow can build up. Flatter roofs tend to collect more snow and ice, which can lead to pressure issues and water damage as snow melts. After a heavy snowfall, large commercial buildings with flat roofs are most at risk of collapsing and causing further structural damage.
Ice dams – If water gets trapped between your roof and a layer of ice, it can freeze into a dam at the edge of the roof, near the eaves troughs. Ice damage is easily missed and can cause leaks, mould and structural damage.
Water pipes – Sub-zero temperatures may cause pipes to freeze and eventually burst. Pipes without proper insulation and in unheated areas like basements and garages are most vulnerable.
Flooding – When ice and snow thaws, this can lead to roof leaks if water seeps into cracks and damaged vents. Basements are also vulnerable to flooding when large amounts of snow and ice melt quickly.
“A lot of mitigation for these extreme weather risks
is common sense,” Clarke told Insurance Business. “Insurance brokers can advise clients to do regular maintenance checks on their homes or commercial properties. If they spot any damage, it’s important to get it fixed in kinder weather.
“Property owners can take preventative actions like installing heated cables along a roof’s edge to prevent ice damming, ensuring that large tree branches and other potential projectiles like tables and shutters are stored safely away from strong winds, and insuring a property has a healthy drainage system.”
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