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Rodd Zolkos

Survey finds many businesses were unprepared for harsh winter

March 7, 2014 - 2:41pm

Winter Weather Impacts Businesses

A February ice storm caused many trees to break under heavy limbs on Broad Street in downtown Augusta, Ga.


A recent survey by FM Global finds many U.S. businesses were not prepared for the challenges of the severe winter weather that affected much of the country this year.

“Probably the No.1 thing that jumped off the page for me was that roughly a quarter of the respondents said they believe their company didn't have an emergency plan in place for an event like this,” said Ronnie Gibson, vice president and chief engineer at FM Global in Johnston, R.I.

The survey also found that 41% of respondents said their company doesn't have an emergency plan to keep the business running in the face of severe weather events like winter storms, and 45% reported their business has been hit financially by this year's winter weather.

In addition, 39% said their company lost business because of this year's winter storms, and 32% said their company's greatest concerns when facing a major storm are either property damage, business continuity or a loss of profits or revenue.

Temporary business closings, cancelled flights and employees forced to work from home because of their children's school closings are among the ways this year's winter has affected U.S. businesses, Mr. Gibson said.

“These are all things that feed into the bottom line of companies,” he said. “And that's before you get to pipes breaking and roofs collapsing.”

Mr. Gibson said that while FM Global would expect to see clients reporting approximately 150 winter weather-related losses in a normal winter, “This year it's up around 900.”

The key to mitigating exposures from an unusually harsh winter like this one is to plan, he said. “When it comes to winter, act as if it’s going to get cold,” Mr. Gibson said. “It comes from the top. The senior management has to buy into this as a need.”

FM Global conducted the survey in mid-February with Wilton, Conn.-based research firm Toluna USA Inc. The survey was completed by 521 participants.

 



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