Google famously started out with the slogan: “Don’t be evil.” This is excellent advice when it comes to minimizing the chances of filing a business insurance claim. By and large, the vast majority of problems in this area arise from a company being perceived as having done something “evil’. Taken at face value, avoiding this situation is rather simple—just be good. Of course, one of the reasons there are so many different types of business insurance is because there are so many different ways to get into trouble, often without realizing you’re doing so. Here’s how to avoid them.
Primary Liability Risks
In most cases, liability lawsuits against a company fall into one of three categories:
− Personal Injury
− Product Safety
− Discriminatory employment practices
Each of these can be managed with judicious applications of common sense. Making every effort to behave within the bounds of decency and the law, will keep you out of courtrooms for the most part. To be on the safe side though, always keep judicious records of all of your efforts to be in compliance in all of these areas. That way, if you do ever wind up in front of a judge or an arbitrator, you’ll have proof of your efforts to lead a clean life.
Ongoing safety training for your employees is your best first step in this area. Make every effort to examine all of their tasks and duties to extrapolate potentially hazardous situations so you can develop training to prevent injuries.
Slip and fall accidents are the most common among customers in stores, restaurants and the like. To prevent them, all areas of your facility should be well lit and exits should be marked clearly. Stairs should be kept free of detritus and in good repair. This includes steps, handrails and landings. Carpeting should be regularly inspected to ensure it is tight and smooth. Floor level changes should be vividly marked so people can see them clearly. Use only non-slip doormats and change them regularly to ensure they are always free of wear and fraying. All spills should be cleaned up at once. If you have a parking lot, it is imperative to keep it free of potholes, cracks and uneven areas. If you’re situated in an area prone to ice and snow, always clear walkways continuously during precipitation.
In the event of an accident on your premises, make every effort to provide the injured person with more than adequate care—including ambulances and emergency rooms if required—without admitting culpability.
Your best defense in the area of product liability is impeccable record keeping, documenting every aspect of the life of the product from conception to design to prototyping, testing and commercial deployment. Always include thorough user instructions and make every effort to ensure there are many as ways as possible to learn to use the product correctly. Pay attention to customer comments, respond immediately to every concern (regardless of your perception of the significance) and record every effort you expend in this regard.
Here again, recordkeeping will be your new best friend if you find your business on the receiving end of a summons. Federal law strictly prohibits employment decisions based upon race, religion, gender, and disability for organizations with 15 employees or more. If you have 20 employees or more, you can add age to the list as well. Make sure everyone in your organization with hiring authority is cognizant of all of the rules and regulations governing employment practices. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), offers low cost training materials for small businesses.
While we’re on the subject of employment, always screen your applicants carefully to ensure you’re hiring mature, careful and responsible people who will avoid engaging in ill-advised behaviors. Smart decisions such as these have proven highly effective at minimizing the chances of filing a business insurance-related claim. Still though, despite your best efforts, things do happen. To protect yourself and your company, let CoverHound help you find the best types of small business insurance for your field of endeavor.