As insurer’s process claims from their represented businesses, the reports and information therein are generally taken at face value, even if the circumstances are frustrating to the insurer. Sometimes a pattern emerges, of easily-solvable problems on the part of the insured that could prevent accidents and the need for some claims to be filed in the first place. With some simple preventative action, businesses can proactively reduce their risk of accidents on their premises and thus save themselves the time and money involved in making an insurance claim later. It’s important that the insurance industry emphasize this more frequently, since proactive thinking ahead is an easy fix that many large businesses nevertheless neglect to consider.
Most businesses carry loss and liability insurance, and of course theoretically want to do what they can to keep their customers and employees safe and to avoid having to make an insurance claim. A business’s legal duty is to use reasonable care to maintain the business premises in a safe condition: but what is “reasonable care”? How the business defines that can make a big difference in the number of claims filed against a business, and, should a claim be filed, help determine whether or not the business is to ultimately be found to be at fault.
One everyday example given in last month’s issue of Claims Magazine is that of a stray hanger lying on the floor, half-hidden under a rack of clothing. Such a small simple thing, easy to pick up and thus remove the hazard, and yet this is a prime example of a not-infrequent liability claim against retailers: a customer slips and falls and sustains an injury on the store premises, allegedly due to a clothing hanger lying on the floor. If retail management emphasizes proactive care to their employees on the floor, such potential hazards will be much more quickly identified and can be corrected while an employee goes about other duties.
The point is not to station one person to constantly watch for issues, but to encourage all employees to keep an eye out for potential problems while taking care of their regular tasks. Management should regularly follow up with employees at all levels to ensure that all understand their role in preventing accidents before they happen. Proper action should always be taken when a problem is spotted: be it an easily picked up stray hanger or something more involved, such as a loose floor tile or a leaky puddle of water on the floor. It’s impossible to prevent all problems, but if everyone is watching out and proactively taking care of things as they occur, this can go a long way towards helping reduce or eliminate accidents and liability.
Adjusters and risk managers should ensure that they are emphasizing this key point with their clients for better solutions all around. At Kompani Risk & Insurance Solutions, Inc., we make sure our clients are well-informed on their options to reduce liability. For more information, contact Matsen CEO, R. Glenn Matsen, directly on his personal extension at 916-306-5902.