Customer personal injury claims can be costly and very damaging to a retail establishment’s reputation. They can be much more frequent than employee claims in some types of stores, especially warehouses that allow customer access.
Employee safety programs are not sufficient to protect customers, who are at risk for many more accidents than employees for three primary reasons:
- Customers expect the store to be safe.
- Groups like children and the elderly are predisposed to injury.
- Customers do not receive safety training.
Understand to what extent you are liable for customer injuries on your premises and take steps to prevent injury.
You are required to maintain safe premises for your customers; in legal terms, you have a high duty of care. This includes the duty to warn customers of non-obvious, dangerous conditions that you know about, to use ordinary care in active operations in the business and to make reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions and make them safe.
Most customer accidents are preventable, so it is important to take steps to make your establishment safer and less exposed to the risk of customer injury and litigation.
Common injuries that could become your liability include:
- Slip and falls as a result of wet floors, torn carpets, poor lighting or escalators. This type of injury is extremely common.
- Head and body injuries from falling objects, retail displays, out-of-reach objects or other mishaps.
- Shopping cart injuries as a result of the cart tipping
- Overcrowding injuries, e.g., trampling.
- Parking lot injuries as a result of cracked, improperly designed lots or failure to remove ice or snow.
Methods of Prevention
Steps you can take to minimize the risk of a customer claim include the following:
- Identify high-risk areas of the facility (such as where liquids are frequently spilled or tracked), and set up an employee inspection schedule to ensure it does not become a dangerous condition.
- Install video cameras to more efficiently monitor the premises for dangerous conditions and provide proof in case of a claim.
- During snowy, icy or rainy weather conditions, take care of dangerous situations on sidewalks, stairs and parking lots promptly.
- Ensure proper lighting in all areas of the store, and check on a regular basis that all bulbs are functioning. Document your inspections.
- Ensure that displays are stable, and always put heavy items near the bottom of shelves.
- Properly maintain and inspect shopping carts, and discard those that present a risk of tipping.
- Control crowds, especially during busy seasons or large sale events, through physical methods, such as entry turnstiles.
- Design parking lots to avoid injury. Repave, repair and check for hazardous conditions regularly. Document these inspections.
Criminal accident teams can stage injuries, targeting several businesses in the same area. This fraud could cost you millions of dollars in unwarranted payouts. Evaluate this possibility in the event of a customer injury claim, and notify the National Insurance Crime Bureau if you have a suspicion.
Liability insurance addresses the cost of legal damages and claims up to policy limits. Work with Scurich Insurance to design the liability package that fits your business–you will be able to select from a wide range of coverage options that you can tailor for your unique needs.
Just a few years ago, taking a trip involved contacting travel agencies, booking hotel rooms and making plans far in advance. Today, however, smartphones and the internet have helped create new sharing services that allow homeowners to connect with travelers and rent out their homes, spare bedrooms or other accommodations for a fee.
Airbnb, the most popular of these sharing services, offers a convenient platform that can provide homeowners with an extra source of income. However, renting through Airbnb can also expose you to substantial risks and leave you with costly property damage and liability claims.
Potential Insurance Gaps
Relying strictly on your regular homeowners or renters insurance policy while hosting guests through Airbnb can lead to significant gaps in coverage. These policies are designed to protect you and your family from everyday risks, and not from commercial renting.
If a renter uses your home for even a small amount of time, you and your family will be exposed to significantly different risks that weren’t considered when your policy was drafted. As a result, most homeowners and renters policies won’t cover property damage that’s caused by Airbnb guests.
If you’re considering renting through Airbnb, your first step should be to contact your insurance broker to review your current homeowners or renters insurance policy. While your homeowners or renters policy may allow you to rent your property to a guest, it’s important to keep in mind that each insurer has its own restrictions and requirements. Some insurers may require advanced notice of any short-term rental, whereas others might insist that you purchase an endorsement to expand your coverage.
If you plan to rent out your residence on a regular basis, many insurance companies will consider this commercial use. In many cases, regular Airbnb hosts will need to obtain a commercial insurance policy in order to be properly insured. However, a growing number of insurance companies now offer home-sharing liability insurance policies that can be purchased on a month-to-month basis.
Issues with Airbnb’s Provided Protection
Airbnb does offer its hosts two forms of protection through its host guarantee program and host protection insurance. While hosts may be inclined to rely exclusively on these programs to manage their risks, there are significant gaps related to these offerings.
Airbnb backs every one of its bookings with its host guarantee program at no cost, which will reimburse eligible hosts for damages up to $1 million. However, Airbnb readily admits that its host guarantee is not insurance and should not be considered a replacement or stand-in for homeowners or renters policies.
Moreover, payments through the host guarantee are subject to a lengthy list of terms, conditions and exclusions. Therefore, hosts should be aware of the following issues related to Airbnb’s host guarantee:
- Hosts must attempt to resolve any issues with the guests involved prior to receiving any compensation. This also means that a host would have to make a claim on his or her own insurance policy before the host guarantee would apply.
- Any sum collected from a standard policy or a security deposit would be deducted from the host guarantee.
- The guarantee will only repair or replace covered property that is damaged during the time frame of an online booking.
- This guarantee does not cover certain items including, but not limited to, cash, collectibles, jewelry, pets, watercrafts or any damage to property that is not considered a covered accommodation.
For more information on specific elements of Airbnb’s host guarantee program, hosts can review its terms and conditions in full on the company’s website.
Host Protection Insurance
In addition to its host guarantee program, Airbnb offers coverage to its patrons through its host protection insurance. Airbnb indicates that the program provides primary liability coverage for up to $1 million per occurrence in the event of third-party claims of bodily injury or property damage. Despite these claims, hosts should be wary of relying solely on this insurance program for a number of reasons:
- Intentional acts that aren’t the result of an accident are not covered under this policy. In addition, Airbnb’s home protection insurance does not cover what it refers to as property issues, which can include things like mold, asbestos and bedbugs.
- Neither Airbnb’s home protection insurance nor its fine print is readily available for review. The policy is also subject to limitations, conditions and exclusions. Together, this means that the specifics of these coverages are vague, and Airbnb hosts may not know exactly what’s protected.
- The personal property of any guest is generally not covered. Additionally, any theft or damage caused by a guest may not be covered either.
With Airbnb’s host protection insurance, it’s best to assume that you aren’t equipped with the proper coverage. For full protection, it is likely that you will need to speak with an insurance professional to better understand the policy adjustments you will need in order to be fully covered.
Considerations for Condo Owners and Renters
While Airbnb opens its services to condo owners and renters, multi-unit buildings often have restrictive bylaws, homeowner association rules or lease terms that could impact the ability to host guests through Airbnb.
In many instances, commercial activities like renting out accommodations—even for short periods of time—are forbidden by lease or condo board policies. In some cases, hosts will need to contact their landlord or condo board before subletting or renting out any accommodations. Failure to do this can result in eviction or other forms of legal action.
Even if you’re allowed to rent out your condo or apartment through Airbnb, doing so can cause tension with neighbors. There’s always the potential that your guests may not be respectful to property in common areas, act inappropriately or noisily, or make other tenants feel uncomfortable.
Local Laws and Considerations
In response to the rising popularity of Airbnb, many states, cities and towns are moving to regulate short-term property rentals through their municipal codes or zoning regulations. In some cases, home rental services like Airbnb could be prohibited altogether.
If you break these local regulations, purposely or otherwise, you could face thousands of dollars in fines. What’s more, Airbnb says alignment with laws and regulations is the responsibility of those renting out accommodations. As a result, you need to review your local laws and regulations before using Airbnb to rent out your accommodations.
The Bottom Line
While Airbnb offers a unique and potentially profitable service to users, it’s not without its faults. Before you decide to try it for yourself, be sure to consider all of the risks. For more information on sharing services, or to review your homeowners or renters policy, contact us at 831-661-5697 today.
OSHA Program to Target Southern Auto Part Makers
OSHA has renewed a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) for auto part manufacturers in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. The REP was originally established to reduce workplace hazards in the auto parts industry, including electrical, struck-by, caught-in and crushing hazards.
Information released by OSHA revealed that the REP led to 46 safety inspections in 2016, which resulted in 143 violations. Now that the REP has been renewed, OSHA will continue to target auto parts manufacturers in the region for inspections.
Trump Administration Will Not Label China as a Currency Manipulator
President Donald Trump recently announced that his administration will not officially label China as a currency manipulator. This is a reversal from previous statements released by Trump, as he stated during his presidential campaign that he would take steps to label the country as a currency manipulator during his first days in office.
Many experts believe that the Chinese government artificially weakens its own currency to make its goods more affordable for American consumers. However, Trump recently stated that China hasn’t manipulated its currency in months, and that the current strength of the U.S. dollar is hurting exports of domestic goods.
This policy reversal is seen by some as a move to maintain China as an ally against North Korea after recent political unrest in the area. However, the decision to not label China as a currency manipulator has already had an impact. According to S&P Global Platts, an energy information provider, the stocks of 10 major U.S. steel producers fell after Trump’s announcement.
Cyber Insurance on the Rise in Manufacturing
Before now, cyber insurance has usually been purchased by consumer-facing businesses, such as health care providers, retailers and financial institutions. However, cyber attacks are now capable of taking control of manufacturing plants and products, and many businesses in the industry are purchasing cyber insurance policies to protect themselves.
According to Advisen, an insurance data provider, manufacturers paid nearly $37 million in cyber insurance premiums in 2016, an increase of 89 percent compared to 2015. Get in touch with us today at 831-661-5697 to discuss a cyber insurance policy and protect your business.