OneBeacon Insurance Urges Property Owners to Avoid Snow-Related Building Collapses

Jan 13, 2010, 08:00 ET from OneBeacon Insurance Group, Ltd.

CANTON, Mass., Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The winter of 2009/2010 has already deposited significant amounts of snow and ice across much of the country.  With at least two months of winter left, OneBeacon Insurance (NYSE: OB) recommends that property owners take the following steps to prevent their commercial buildings and houses from collapsing under the weight of snow and ice:

Before A Storm

  1. Review the roof's design to be certain it can support the weight of snow, ice and water.  Look for weaknesses and reinforce it if necessary, particularly where increased weight from drifting is likely.
  2. Make certain gutters, drains, downspouts and scuppers are clear and in good condition.
  3. Determine a safe snow depth for the roof and plan to begin removal when accumulated snow reaches half that depth.
  4. Develop a snow removal plan that includes roofs, skylights, canopies and overhangs.  Assign individuals to be responsible for monitoring, snow removal, etc.
  5. Be ready to put the snow removal plan into effect immediately, especially in windy weather when snow will drift and accumulate.

During A Storm

  1. Monitor the weather and condition of the roof.
  2. Inspect roofs for leaks or structural deficiencies that may develop during the storm.
  3. Clear leaves, snow, ice, silt, or other debris from gutters, drains, downspouts, and scuppers.

After A Storm

  1. Have a professional contractor remove all snow immediately from every roof surface, including roof overhangs and covered porches.  
  2. Remove snow from side walls to prevent high snow mounds from pushing them in.
  3. Temporarily shore up and brace dipping or sagging roofs or walls.
  4. Verify that drains are clear of ice and snow to allow melting and runoff.  If the roof is pitched and without drains, open paths to the eaves to ensure drainage and prevent ponding.
  5. Avoid ice dams by keeping the attic well ventilated so snow doesn't melt and refreeze at the roof's edge.  Also make certain the attic floor is well insulated to minimize the amount of heat rising from the house into the attic.

Property owners also should notify their insurance agent or insurance company at the first sign that property may have suffered damage from snow and ice or any other winter condition.

About OneBeacon: OneBeacon Insurance Group's underwriting companies offer a range of specialty and personal insurance products sold through select independent agents, regional and national brokers, and wholesalers. The company's specialty businesses include OneBeacon Professional Insurance, International Marine Underwriters, Entertainment Brokers International Insurance Services, Specialty Accident and Health, OneBeacon Government Risks, OneBeacon Energy Group, A.W.G. Dewar (tuition refund), collector cars and boats written through Hagerty Insurance Agency, Technology, Financial Services, Excess Property and Property Inland Marine.

As one of the oldest property and casualty insurers in the United States, OneBeacon traces its roots to 1831 and the Potomac Fire Insurance Company. Today, OneBeacon's specialty insurance businesses are national in scope while personal lines business is concentrated in the Northeastern United States. The company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "OB".

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995

This press release may contain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, included or referenced in this release which address activities, events or developments which we expect or anticipate will or may occur in the future are forward-looking statements. The words "will," "believe," "intend," "expect," "anticipate," "project," "estimate," "predict" and similar expressions are also intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, among others, statements with respect to OneBeacon's:

  • change in book value per share or return on equity;
  • business strategy;
  • financial and operating targets or plans;
  • incurred loss and loss adjustment expenses and the adequacy of its loss and loss adjustment expense reserves and related reinsurance;
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These statements are based on certain assumptions and analyses made by OneBeacon in light of its experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors believed to be appropriate in the circumstances. However, whether actual results and developments will conform to our expectations and predictions is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations, including:

  • claims arising from catastrophic events, such as hurricanes, windstorms, earthquakes, floods, fires, explosions, terrorist attacks or severe winter weather;
  • recorded loss and loss adjustment expense reserves subsequently proving to have been inadequate;
  • the continued availability and cost of reinsurance coverage;
  • the continued availability of capital and financing;
  • general economic, market or business conditions;
  • business opportunities (or lack thereof) that may be presented to it and pursued;
  • competitive forces, including the conduct of other property and casualty insurers and agents;
  • changes in domestic or foreign laws or regulations, or their interpretation, applicable to OneBeacon, its competitors, its agents or its customers;
  • an economic downturn or other economic conditions adversely affecting its financial position including stock market volatility;
  • actions taken by ratings agencies from time to time, such as financial strength or credit ratings downgrades or placing ratings on negative watch;
  • the risks that are described from time to time in OneBeacon's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to OneBeacon's Annual Report on the Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008 filed February 27, 2009.

Consequently, all of the forward-looking statements made in this press release are qualified by these cautionary statements, and there can be no assurance that the actual results or developments anticipated by OneBeacon will be realized or, even if substantially realized, that they will have the expected consequences to, or effects on, OneBeacon or its business or operations. OneBeacon assumes no obligation to update publicly any such forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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SOURCE OneBeacon Insurance Group, Ltd.