The best thing business owners can do to minimise the disruption of extreme winter weather is to be prepared.

If a visitor or member of the public were to slip and injure themselves on your property – you could be to blame. The injured party could seek compensation by bringing a personal injury claim against you. The same applies to employees and you could even be prosecuted under the Health and Safety at work Act 1974. It is best as a business owner to keep premises (including pavements, car parks and other land) clear from such hazards as snow and ice. Make sure paths and carparks are cleared with a snow shovel and spread rock salt on the ground.

Boilers should be serviced annually as part often fail when sub zero temperatures strike. Issues will be picked up early and it makes sure no one is cold in the office!

Burst pipe claims (often referred to as an ‘escape of water’ in insurance policies) can be hugely expensive and disruptive. There is not only the cost of repairing the pipe itself, but replastering ceilings, redecorating, replacing damaged contents (such as furniture and computers) can all result in a significant bill.

More importantly for your business, you could be left without a permanent premises until it has been sufficiently dried out and repaired, which could take months.

Insulating your pipes with foam or rubber tubes will help protect against the elements, and leaving the heating on for longer periods of time will ensure the temperature doesn’t drop too low.

If the worst does happen, and you experience a frozen pipe, switch off the water supply at the stop tap. Check to see if the pipe has burst, then open the affected tap so that water can flower through it as it is melting. Using towels soaked in hot water or a hairdryer on a low setting may help warm the pipes up, but never use naked flame to achieve this.

Snow can put a lot of strain on an old roof, particularly if it is in poor condition. You should consider having your roof surveyed at least once a year if you live in an old property or have experienced water leaks in the past; it can help identify problems before the cold weather begins and identify other issues, such as unstable chimneys or loose tiles.

While the above are all useful measures to take in protecting against the cold months, it’s impossible to protect against all scenarios. Having comprehensive insurance cover in place will ensure that if something does go wrong, you won’t be left out of pocket.

• Public liability insurance can cover against slips, trips and falls suffered by third parties
• Employer’s liability insurance can cover against slips, trips and falls suffered by employees
• Buildings and contents insurance can cover against escape of water claims and damage caused by extreme weather conditions, while business interruption cover protects against any loss of income (or increased costs of working) resulting from the incident

For more information  and how the cold weather might affect you and your business please contact the team on 01509 274000.