New England just got pounded with one of the worst blizzards in recent memory. It was so severe that some parts of the area experienced hurricane force winds and a state of emergency was declared that prompted the deployment of the National Guard to the region to keep order and make sure people stayed safe. Less than a week later, another snow storm dumped over a foot in Massachusetts. The threat of roofs collapsing from the weight of all the accumulated snow is a real and present danger.
The good news is that, according to FEMA, a little bit of prevention can prevent most roof collapses due to heavy snows. Of course, the prevention only works if measures are taken quickly after this or any other severe snow storm. Most of your customers will probably not be aware of the things they can do to prevent roof collapse before it occurs. It is your job to educate them.
What Your Customers Can Do
Customers who come to you with concerns about roof collapse should be educated in how to prevent it. In case of severe snow storms on their way, you should contact your customers and offer them prevention tips before snow start to fall.
Let them know that they should thoroughly inspect their roofs prior to the storm. If their roofs have any structural issues or weaknesses, it will increase the likelihood of a roof collapse if the snow is really voluminous. If the structural problem is discovered within a few days before the storm is expected, there may be time to get it fixed before the storm arrives. Of course, the best idea is to inspect the roof before the start of snow season, so your customers have plenty of time to get any deficiencies in their roof structure repaired without having to scramble to find a repair person with an opening in their schedule during the busy season to do it.
Also, encourage your customers to get an estimate of how much snow their roof can hold up. A roofing contractor can come out and do this estimate for them. With this information, your customer will know if the coming storm is likely to damage their roof or not. If the snow is expected to be heavier than their roof can stand, they can take preventive measures during the storm, such as scraping off falling snow with a special tool that can be used from the ground. If your customer does this every so often as the snow falls, a roof collapse is less likely, because a large amount of snow will not build up on the roof.
Special training and safety equipment needs to be used with this approach, as your customers don’t want to cause an avalanche on themselves. The people who sell the equipment can provide the training. If this is too much, self-regulating heating cables can be installed on the roof to melt snow and prevent ice dams from forming in gutters (which can damage the gutters and the edges of the roof).
If there are a lot of large tree branches near the roof, these should be cut back or removed entirely. Again, this should ideally be done before snow season, but can sometimes be done quickly if there is enough notice from the weather forecasters that a storm is heading your customers’ way.
Finally, remind your customers of the importance of having a disaster recovery plan if they do experience a roof collapse or roof damage due to a snow storm. They should have emergency numbers for repair personnel handy, as well as your number or contact information, so they can call you and make a timely claim if it becomes necessary.
Winter is also a good time for your customers to review their existing policy coverage and decide if they have enough, or if more protection is needed. You can guide them through this process, and help them decide on the best coverage level for them each year. This will make sure they are protected no matter what happens with the winter weather.