How Snow Accumulation Could Impact Your Building

2019 has been the year of snowfall in the Midwest. The Minneapolis/St. Paul area alone received 39 inches last month, making it the snowiest February and fourth snowiest month on record.

This heavy snow accumulation is a common theme throughout the Upper Midwest and Northern Great Lakes regions. As depicted below in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) snow depth imagery maps, recent winter storms have left their mark with season snowfall totals continuing to accrue.

While snow is most commonly blamed for creating travel and visibility challenges, it can also cause damage to homes and buildings due to the weight of the buildup. During this especially snowy season, we have seen more facilities impacted by snow and ice accumulation than is typical.

With more snow forecasted later this week, the potential for additional issues has increased. The Hays Property Claims team has assembled a quick overview of warning signs of property damage following a winter storm, as well as what you should do about it.

Warning Signs of Damage/Collapse Following a Winter Storm:

  • Bowing, sagging, cracking or fractured trusses/purlins are a likely warning sign of overloading.
  • Fresh cracking in plaster or drywall may suggest shifting or movement of framing members.
  • Doors can suddenly become out of plumb or no longer properly shut.

These issues can also impact buildings in other regions of the country with a more moderate snow pack. Building codes are often not designed to carry the same snow loads that are anticipated in colder climates. Older buildings are especially susceptible due to less stringent building codes in effect at the time of construction or aging building materials.

Suggested responses to snow load issues or signs of a potential collapse:

  • Contact a structural engineer to evaluate the structural stability and determine if shoring or other emergency repairs are necessary.
  • Safely remove snow from the roof and hire outside vendors to assist if necessary. Areas which are most susceptible to snow accumulation are along parapet walls, where there is a difference in roof elevations and in roof valleys. Be careful with snow blowers and other equipment as additional damage can occur to the roof if not properly used.
  • Keep operations and employees out of impacted areas until the licensed engineer determines the situation is stable.
  • Evaluate whether it is safe to maintain utilities in area, or if they should be shut off as a precaution.
  • Notify your insurance carrier and broker of the situation.
  • Complete shoring and temporary repairs in-line with engineer recommendations to mitigate any further damage.
  • Take photos and video, save invoicing for incurred expenses and track internal labor utilized to respond.

If a catastrophic collapse has occurred:

  • Isolate the entire area from the balance of your premises/operations.
  • Notify your insurance carrier and broker.
  • Turn off utilities to prevent further damage.
  • Identify alternate means for production/operations if they are impaired.
  • Contact a structural engineer to evaluate any remaining portions of the building.
  • Gather original building details, plans, specifications, and other construction documents available. These will assist with both rebuilding and the insurance claim process.
  • Contact a contractor for demolition and rebuilding of the structure. We suggest working with the adjuster to confirm there is agreement on the scope and pricing prior to completing any of the permanent repairs.

Please note: these recommendations are provided for general information purposes only.

If you are impacted by heavy snowfall this season, Hays is here to help! Please reach out to your property claims team or contact us here.

Andrew Williamson Joins Hays Companies of Wisconsin Benefits Practice

Hays Companies of Wisconsin is pleased to announce that Andrew Williamson has joined the Benefits Practice, where he will focus on employers with under 200 employees.  Williamson brings 15+ years of consulting and brokerage experience with similarly-sized employer groups.

“Our unique tools and industry-leading talent have led to expansive growth in our core business segment that focuses on larger employers,”  said Dan Robinson, Executive Vice President of Hays Companies.  “We are excited to share the tools and resources with middle market employers with under 200 employees.  With Andrew’s leadership, we expect to positively redefine the value that employers of this size in Wisconsin can expect from a benefits advisory partner.”

Hays Companies is one of the fastest growing, privately-held risk management, insurance and employee benefits advisors in the country. Our philosophy of delivering the highest-quality, customer-focused service has led to significant growth for 20 years. Today the company includes 700+ experienced professionals in more than 35 locations throughout the United States. Andrew’s addition to Hays’ Wisconsin office follows the eighth consecutive year Hays Companies has been recognized as one of Wisconsin’s Top 100 Workplaces.


Andrew received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Andrew maintains a Wisconsin Resident Intermediary License for Accident and Health plans and Life plans.

Contact Information:

Andrew Williamson

Middle Market Practice Leader

Phone: 414-290-3609


Hays Companies of Wisconsin Named One of the Top Workplaces

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has named Hays Companies of Wisconsin one of Wisconsin’s Top Workplaces for the eighth year in a row. Consequently, they have been inducted into The Journal Sentinel’s 2018 Top Workplaces Hall of Fame, a prestigious position that reflects the quality of our culture and employees.

Results were based on survey responses from employees on items such as how employees felt about their job and overall satisfaction with the company.

Highlights from the survey included the following comments:

“We are given the ability to succeed in whatever our career aspirations may be.”

“It’s challenging and something new every day. I enjoy my co-workers and feel that people are working together to deliver the best results for our clients.”

The people I work with are great, caring people. We all are working towards a common goal.”

“This is a great recognition and something that all of us are very proud of. It’s imperative to the management team to have built and to continue to create a healthy work environment where people love what they do and who they work with. Most importantly, this happiness translates to an exceptionally high level of customer service resulting in very high levels of client satisfaction,” Dan Kwiecinski, Executive Vice President of Hays Companies of Wisconsin said.  

Here at Hays Companies, we have created a culture that is unmatched in our industry. Inspired by our Founders’ entrepreneurial spirit and drive, our team thrives in a collaborative work environment, and an engaging and meaningful workplace, which allows our employees to deliver the best results to our clients.

Hays Companies is one of the fastest growing Property & Casualty and Employee Benefits advisers in the country. We are dedicated to providing expert counsel to our clients that assist them in minimizing or mitigating their “total cost of risk” in a well thought out and planned manner. We collaborate with clients to find business efficient solutions that you can improve upon incrementally over time. Our 700+ team represents a dynamic, entrepreneurial assembly of the best and brightest in the industry. With over 30 offices across the country, we draw from a pool of unrivaled expertise, in legal, certified public accountants, financial services, and claims to design a team devoted to your needs alone.

Hays Companies of Wisconsin A Top Work Places for 2017

Hays Companies of Wisconsin has been named as one of Wisconsin’s Top Workplaces by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for the seventh year in a row.

In 2017, there were 1,350 companies invited by the Journal Sentinel to participate in the survey. Employees of the surveyed companies were asked questions revolving around how the employees felt about their job, their view on organizational health, as well as employee engagement. Here are a few of the comments that helped Hays Companies of Wisconsin earn this honor in 2017:

“The people that work here are genuine, sincere and hard-working people. The people make a business and we have the best.”

“I am surrounded by people who want to be here and do their job well.”

“We employ wonderful people who make coming here easy. And if you need help, everyone is there as a resource.”

At Hays Companies, we’ve created a synergy between teams that’s unmatched in the industry. Our employees thrive within the innovative environment that our founding partners helped to cultivate, providing a rich and meaningful workplace that ultimately best benefits our clients.

Hays Companies is one of the fastest growing property and casualty and employee benefits advisers in the country. As a privately held company owned by its managing employees, there are no outside interests or agendas to distract our employees from the business of insurance and risk management. We focus exclusively on meeting the goals established by our clients. Hays Companies is built to be flexible and we collaborate with clients to find business efficient solutions that can be improved upon incrementally over time. Our 700+ team represents a dynamic, entrepreneurial assembly of the best and brightest in the industry.