An ice storm that has affected the Czech Republic in the last couple of days has hit insurers and rail operators, with the latter providing compensation to passengers, but has had little impact on manufacturing and construction firms.
Insurance companies said on Tuesday evening, around 24 hours after the ice storm first arrived in many parts of the country, that they had registered an increase of claims in the tens of percent, the Czech News Agency reported.
In most cases the claims related to minor damage to the bodies of motor vehicles, often due to a failure on the part of drivers to maintain sufficient distance from other vehicles.
One of the largest players on the Czech insurance market, Česká pojišťovna, said it had registered around 650 claims on Tuesday, a figure that due to the frozen rain and ice was around 30 percent higher than usual.
Representatives of insurance companies said vehicle and property insurance claims related to the ice storm were likely to be coming in throughout the week. However, claims over personal injuries are likely to be seen later, as most clients file them once their treatment has been completed.
Rail transport has been particularly adversely affected by the weather situation, with hundreds of trains cancelled, scores of services delayed and passengers even trapped in carriages overnight.
In response to the inconvenience caused, Czech Railways produced a detailed compensation plan for passengers. This includes the promise of CZK 100 vouchers for those whose journeys took at least two hours longer than normal.
The country’s two private rail operators, Regiojet and Leo Express, are also compensating passengers for ice storm related delays, though neither they nor Czech Railways are required to do so by law.
Manufacturers and construction firms have not reported major complications caused by the adverse weather conditions. One of the few exceptions has been the Hyundai car plant in Nošovice, north Moravia, which was forced to halt its production lines after parts delivery trucks got stuck on icy roads in the area.
Some food deliveries were held up in the early part of the storm, people in the business reported. However, as most are made during the night this was not felt by customers at retail outlets.
Construction firms said they were largely unaffected as outside work had in the main already been abandoned due to the onset of winter. A spokesperson for one building company told the Czech News Agency it would take temperatures of under minus 20 degrees Celsius to cause the industry serious problems.
Consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers say many firms are poorly prepared for situations like the ice storm, with only a fifth having crisis plans in place. A PwC representative said even large companies did not make the safety of staff a priority in such calamities, while communication as to how to proceed was also a weak point.