General liability claims can come at any time, in any form. Purchasing insurance for this type of exposure is the first line of defense against many common claims.
General liability insurance covers claims of bodily injury or other physical injury, property damage, personal injury (including slander or libel) and advertising injury. The purpose of GL coverage is to protect your business against incidents that may occur on your premises or at other covered locations where you normally conduct business. It can protect your business against significant financial loss resulting from claims of injury or damage caused to others by you or your employees.
Just because you have purchased a commercial general liability insurance policy doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay some of the cost out of pocket, even if the claim is covered! Aside from the potential unexpected expense, dealing with claims can be mentally draining and can even harm the reputation of your business. Although you may have purchased coverage for this type of exposure, it is important that as a business you also do your part in preventing these claims.
Here are 10 ways your business can assist in general liability claim prevention:
- Parking Lots & Sidewalks: Parking lots and sidewalks should be routinely inspected and maintained. During the winter season, be sure to perform timely maintenance of parking lots. Have the parking lot plowed by a professional if snow has fallen. You should also inspect the parking lot for any potholes that may need to be filled. While tending to the parking lot, do not forget the sidewalks! Be sure that they, too, are shoveled and cleared.
- Slippery Surfaces: During the spring especially, snow can melt from above-freezing temperatures during the day and re-freeze from below-freezing temperatures at night. Use sand and/or salt in outdoor areas that are known to freeze and might be slippery (sidewalks, front entrances – especially brick surfaces, patios, etc.).
- Interior/Exterior Lighting: Incidents are more likely to occur in dark or poorly lit areas. Check all lighting both inside and outside of the property (especially in the parking lot) for “dark spots” to ensure that all areas are properly illuminated.
- Flooring: Periodically examine the rugs and flooring for any “lifting” or repairs to avoid trips and falls. If any repairs need to be made, do so immediately. Slip-resistant floor materials and treatments should be applied to necessary areas (including dance floors).
- Spills & Wet Surfaces: Ensure rapid cleanup of spills and use movable “caution” signage. If the interior floor is wet from rain or melting snow being brought in by patrons, be sure to utilize “caution” signs to notify the public of the wet floor.
- Furniture & Fixtures: Check chairs and tables for any “rickety” spots that could cause drinks or food to fall, or even worse, an individual! Ensure all tables and chairs are stable. A routine maintenance program should be implemented to inspect and repair furniture and fixtures.
- Bathroom Safety: Place restroom soap and hand dryers/paper towel dispensers in areas where soap and water drips are minimized. All restrooms should be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid water or soap leakage, especially from customers and employees washing their hands.
- Stairways: Install handrails on stairways and ramps. Slip-resistant floor materials should be used on all stairways. Elevators and escalators should also be inspected and maintained regularly (if applicable).
- Fire Safety: Inspect all smoke detectors to ensure that they are completely functional and do not need to be replaced. Also make sure that all exits are clearly marked. Emergency power sources for egress lighting should be tested regularly. Appropriate kitchen fire safety equipment should be installed and routinely cleaned and inspected.
- Establishment at Large: Review the establishment as a whole to ensure a safe environment for patrons and employees. The layout of the restaurant should be carefully planned to avoid any incidents (i.e. tables are not placed near doorways, stairs, opening doors, etc.). You should also adhere to maximum occupancy regulations, ensure egress areas are maintained free and clear, separate delivery areas from patron parking and entry areas (if applicable), ensure parking lots contain minimal shrubbery and vision obstruction for patron security, and you should also utilize exterior cameras wherever appropriate.
Hospitality Insurance Group strides to do our part in providing coverage for your general liability needs. With just a few steps, our insureds can help in preventing general liability claims! Together, we can make a great team for years to come!
Michele Wright-Nealand is a Jr. Underwriter at Hospitality Insurance Group.
Please be advised that the opinions expressed are the views of the author alone and should not be attributed to any other individual or entity and shall not constitute a legal opinion.