Should you warm up to writing snow forts?

Snow forts are great fun, but are they a good risk? When considering whether to write seasonal coverage for kids’ ice castles, you have to stick with the basics of COPE — Construction, Occupancy, Protection, External Exposures. Below are some thoughts to help keep a cool snow fort book of business.

Construction. Umm, they’re snow forts so they are all pretty much equal in this area, right? Wrong. With a keen eye, you’ll be able to spot a good risk from a couple of haphazardly piled ice chunks. Look for walls that are packed into place and joints that are filled with extra snow (the wet stuff) for greater stability. Did the young builder take time to mist interior and exterior walls with water for even more protection? That’s a good sign and probably means dad or an older brother assisted in the project. Don’t forget that light fluffy snow — the non-packy stuff — piled up isn’t really a snow fort; it’s what we in the business refer to as a “snow heap.”

Occupancy. This is tricky. The last thing you want is a frozen flophouse for all the neighborhood kids to mistreat. You know that little Billy Mumphrey is a real wildcard and will eventually claim ownership “because he lugged waaay more snow than anyone.” When that happens, it’s only a matter of time before a wall or two is mysteriously demolished. Let’s face it, this thing goes unoccupied most of the night and, unfortunately, these “accidents” are all too frequent. How about dogs? Not a good situation if there’s one on the premises. Dogs can lead to all sorts of losses.

Protection. Snowballs are a good deterrent for intruders. Also, look for short doorways that help keep the high schoolers out.

External exposures. We’re trained to look to the left and right, but in this case we should look up. Unless you’re writing policies in the Arctic, the sun is a real problem. So is the snowplow that may pass too close and crush the structure with a tidal wave of road slush after the next snowstorm. And on that note, why is Ned the plow driver always smiling when he does that? Makes us think it may not be an accident. Snowplow subrogation? Think about it.

Bottom line: Latest building reports call for an increase in new snow fort starts in January and February. Writing snow forts poses challenges, but really, they’re made of snow. How expensive can they be to rebuild? Just don’t write too many in Billy Mumphrey’s neighborhood.