Press Release

With Harsh Winter Ahead, QBE North America Encourages Businesses to Take Essential Steps to Prepare

NEW YORK, NY, November 7, 2023 — The official start of winter on December 21 serves as an important reminder for businesses to ensure they are prepared for below freezing temperatures. This year, The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts snowfall will be above normal across most snow-prone areas, with colder-than-normal temperatures and El Niño could also impact winter weather across the US. To help businesses guard against winter weather risks, insurance leader QBE North America is offering tips for protecting facilities, guests, customers, employees, contractors and fleets.

“In addition to bitter cold temperatures, winter storms can unleash heavy snowfall and freezing conditions, leading to an array of hazards,” said Ali Bibi, lead loss control consultant at QBE North America. “As we've witnessed in recent years, these weather events can affect regions far beyond the usual cold-climate areas. It is imperative for businesses to proactively safeguard against the potential losses linked to winter weather."

Premise and operation liability claims from winter weather represent a growing loss for property owners. Injuries caused by slippery conditions, falling snow and ice, building collapse from excessive snow loading or the improper actions of people removing snow occur during inclement weather. 

“Harsh winter conditions can pose significant challenges for businesses, and it's crucial to prepare effectively,” said Gabi Printz, lead loss control consultant at QBE North America. “By taking proactive measures, companies can not only mitigate risks but also demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of their employees, customers and stakeholders."

QBE North America recommends the following actions to help businesses prepare for the upcoming winter:


  • Prevent frozen pipes and fire sprinkler systems by maintaining temperatures above 50°F, especially when buildings are idle. Check enclosures around sprinkler valves to maintain temperatures above 50°F.
  • When using supplemental or temporary heating devices, keep them away from combustibles, follow ALL manufacturer’s recommendations and use them only in well-ventilated areas or outdoors when possible.
  • Ensure access to the facility for the Fire Department and keep nearby hydrants clear of snow piles.
  • Test all fire, burglar and carbon monoxide alarms. Install low-temperature alarms in critical areas like sprinkler control valve rooms.
  • Ensure heating devices are in good working order, and for heating oil users, maintain an adequate supply and clear exhaust ports of snow/ice to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Test all emergency generators and back-up systems, and provide and store fuels needed for equipment such as snow removal. Solicit a generator delivery and deployment service for extended power outages.
  • Clear all roof drains, downspouts and outlets. Review snow removal plans and ensure safety training for workers, including working from heights.
  • Remove hoses from exterior hose bibs and insulate to prevent freezing. Ensure water supply to exterior hoses is turned off.
  • Turn off water to vacant portions of the property.
  • Drain drum drips for all dry water-based fire protection systems.

Guests and Customers:

  • Prevent slips and falls for guests and customers by having a snow and ice removal and control plan in place.
  • If using subcontractors for snow removal, review contracts for limitations and require automatic and emergency notification. Obtain certificates of their liability insurance.
  • Preplan snow pile locations to prevent melt and refreeze in walking areas, and keep drains clear.
  • Frequently inspect areas prone to freezing and assign responsibility for inspection of slick areas.
  • Prepare a stockpile of equipment like shovels, snowmelt, sand and fuel for snow removal.
  • Obtain extra walk-off mats for entranceways and ensure wet floor signs are posted where applicable.
  • Clean and treat ramps and stairs with environmentally friendly de-icers, keeping ice melt available near entrances and walkways.
  • Keep emergency exits clear of snow and ice, and ensure well-lit parking lots and walkway areas.

Employees and Contractors:

  • Protect workers from cold temperatures and winter weather by providing suitable waterproof clothing and protective equipment.
  • Maintain adequate inventory of essential supplies, including heating fuel, de-icing materials and winter safety equipment.
  • Require proper winter footwear with good traction and provide frequent work breaks and warming areas. Encourage hydration and avoid excessive exertion.
  • Provide first aid training for preventing cold weather emergencies, including recognizing frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Ensure safety controls for snow blowers to prevent hand and arm injuries and use gas-powered equipment outdoors with good ventilation.
  • Train maintenance employees on winter safety requirements.
  • Compile and distribute a list of emergency contact information to key personnel, including local authorities, utility companies and emergency response teams.


  • Maintain and inspect vehicles for anticipated weather conditions, including tire tread, tire pressure, installation of winter tires, tire chains (if applicable), antifreeze, cold-temperature washer solvents and batteries.
  • Provide an emergency kit for drivers, including a reflective vest, jumper cables, first aid kit, blanket, shovel, flashlight, cell phone charger, emergency lights/triangles, snow brush/ice scraper, drinking water and snacks.
  • Plan trips to avoid overpasses, bridges or any elevated roads and limit unnecessary trips. Use only plowed and heavily traveled roads, and use road condition map apps.
  • Encourage drivers to use common sense and communicate if driving conditions worsen to the point that the trip should be halted until the weather is more manageable.
  • Avoid leaving a vehicle stranded in operating roadways and find a safe parking area after the storm passes.
  • Have drivers slow down, increase spacing between vehicles and provide winter driving safety training.

It is also important to review your company’s insurance policies, including property, liability and business interruption coverage prior to the arrival of winter to ensure adequate protection for winter-related risks.

QBE Risk Solutions provides a variety of tools and tips to assist insureds in planning for winter weather. Additionally, there are several useful resources to assist with winter preparedness planning, including the Be Prepared for a Winter Storm toolkit from FEMA. 

QBE North America’s Risk Solutions teams are experts in risk and delivering loss prevention and loss protection services. Their focused commitment to service and technical acumen helps customers identify, evaluate and reduce their potential for losses and business risk. By getting to know their customers, their business operations, priorities and concerns, they can help deliver the best possible outcomes.

About QBE
QBE North America is a global insurance leader helping customers solve unique risks, so they can stay focused on their future. Part of QBE Insurance Group Limited, QBE North America reported Gross Written Premiums in the first half of 2023 of $5 billion. QBE Insurance Group’s results can be found at Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, QBE operates out of 27 countries around the globe, with a presence in every key insurance market. The North America division, headquartered in New York, conducts business primarily through its insurance company subsidiaries. The actual terms and conditions of any insurance coverage are subject to the language of the policies as issued. Additional information can be found at or follow QBE North America on LinkedIn and Facebook

Media Contact: 
Lou Casale
Lead Communications Partner

QBE makes no warranty, representation, or guarantee regarding the information herein or the suitability of these suggestions or information for any particular purpose. QBE hereby disclaims any and all liability concerning the information contained herein and the suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable risk transfer procedure is contained herein or that unusual or abnormal circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional risk transfer policies and/or procedures. The use of any of the information or suggestions described herein does not amend, modify, or supplement any insurance policy. Consult the actual policy or your agent for details about your coverage. QBE and the links logo are registered service marks of QBE Insurance Group Limited. © 2023 QBE Holdings, Inc.