Winter weather has arrived, dumping measurable amounts of snow across the nation and creating problems for businesses unable to operate at full capacity. This is especially problematic in those parts of the country where such weather isn’t the norm, and the communities are ill equipped to manage through snow and ice.

Winter Weather Woes

Impassable roads, electrical outages and delayed services are all common struggles tied to winter storms. They can also be a recipe for disaster for businesses if their operations are interrupted—including their revenue-generating business hours, supply chains and property functionality or accessibility.  

Organizations that are not adequately prepared to rapidly address a disruption in their business—regardless of whether it stems from snow or any other unanticipated problem—run the risk of experiencing long-term damage to operations and reputation, some of which cannot be overcome.

But even those businesses that stay up and running during inclement winter weather are not immune from weather-related claims, including worker, customer or vendor injuries that stem from slips and falls on icy premises; or damaged commercial fleets that result from auto accidents on slippery roads or in areas with limited visibility.

These very real challenges demonstrate the importance of having business continuity and safety management plans in place—helping to ensure your business is resilient in the wake of unpredictable winter weather.

Still, even the most solid planning won’t be enough if you don’t have the processes and tools in place to execute on those plans to truly mitigate disaster. But that’s where risk management information technology can help—automating your business continuity and safety plans to they are easier to mobilize, as well as streamlining the incident reporting and claims process for those events that do occur when winter weather strikes.

Risk Management Technology and Business Continuity in the Wake of a Winter Storm

First and foremost, the right risk management technology will automate your entire business continuity plan—automatically triggering alerts of impending emergencies (like a winter storm), as well as triggering workflows that set emergency action plans into action.

Here’s how it works: Geocoding technology within a risk management information system can pinpoint information specific to an organization’s business—like properties, locations, key vendors, means of transport, key personnel or any other location important to a business. From there, the system can then determine any properties and/or vendors that may be in close proximity to an event type, such as a winter storm.

Once that’s determined, the system will then mobilize the predetermined emergency action plan that your organization thoughtfully created and embedded within your risk management information system. Stakeholders will be notified of next steps, and as they complete and report completion of their assigned  tasks within the system, the next steps will be triggered.

The continuous flow of information allows everyone to stay on top of their emergency plan-related assignments, as well as anticipate problems and take corrective actions sooner—such as diverting your fleet away from the storm; engaging a backup supplier if your typical supplier is at risk of not being able to deliver; or ensuring property maintenance crews or vendors are prepared to address any facility issues that could hinder operation.

The functionality doesn’t stop there, though. Beyond automating and streamlining emergency preparedness plans to keep your business up and running, the right risk management technology can also help automate and streamline how you capture any incidents or manage any claims that might stem from winter weather.

Risk Management Technology Helps Reduce Liability in the Wake of a Winter Storm

Unfortunately, when mother nature strikes, incidents and accidents can still occur, despite well thought out emergency planning and execution of those plans. For instance, workers, vendors and even visitors can slip and fall due to icy conditions on your organization’s premises. This can lead to expensive claims and even legal action if such incidents are not well documented and well managed.

The right risk management technology will provide a single record for any item related to a specific incident or claim This is because such a system can electronically facilitate everything from collecting incident data and communicating about an incident or claim, to analyzing claim and policy data, and processing claims. So, in the event someone slips on a patch of ice at your property, risk management technology can help keep liability at bay in a multitude of ways.

First, from an automation perspective, the right system keeps communication about an incident or claim flowing—automatically notifying organization stakeholders of any incident or claim, and enabling consistent and timely communication among the organization, claims professional and the injured party.

This will enable you to intervene faster, ensuring the injured party is getting the right medical attention and feels the organization is vested in his or her recovery. It will also help to keep claims moving so they can be closed faster. In effect, injured workers, vendors or visitors are less likely to feel like your organization has forgotten about them or is trying to keep them in the dark regarding their claims—feelings that can often result in injured parties taking legal action.

From an analytics perspective, the right risk management technology will also be able to benchmark a claim against other similar claims, and then trigger alerts regarding potential outlier claims. This can help you to identify riskier claims that can spiral out of control because of costs, as well as potentially help you identify fraudulent claims—reducing your claims costs and legal liability.

Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold

When Old Man Winter rears his ugly head, risk management technology can help ensure your business isn’t left out in the cold by keeping your business continuity plan on track and reducing liabilities that might stem from injuries related to snow and ice on your property.