The average cost of a simple slip and fall claim for a small business is $20,000 – those are the small ones!. So, although that liability component to your Business Owners’ Policy may look expensive, compared to paying $20,000, the cost of a general liability insurance premium looks low!Avoiding liability risks will help to hold your premiums down as a small business owner.
Here is food for thought as to how to accomplish this avoidance:Safety FirstPutting safety first is always a good idea, no matter whether your company deals with dangerous tools or heights or if you are an office employer. The safer you make your workplace, the less you have to worry about causing injury or harm to someone.• Stay on top of new safety standards for your industry, equipment, or products.• Keep a clean working environment, free from clutter, fire hazards, and trip/fall hazards.• Make sure that exits are clearly marked, and that there is adequate lighting during operating hours.Making workplace safety a priority will reduce the risk of an accident that can injure an employee, customer or other third-party.Train EmployeesTraining your employees in appropriate workplace safety and conduct truly does help prevent lawsuits. You are responsible for employees’ actions, and words, at the workplace. Training your staff in the appropriate ways of handling situations is critical in every business, no matter the size. Training should encompass all aspects of risks to the business. In today’s world, if you have an employee handling your social media accounts, marketing efforts, or acting as a representative of your business, their training and knowledge are very important. Costly marketing mistakes in social media or on your website can happen too easily. For instance, if you inadvertently damage the reputation of a competitor on your blog, podcast, or social media accounts, you could be facing a lawsuit for libel (written defamatory statement) or slander (spoken defamatory statement). The simple rule here is: make sure you do NOT try to boost yourself up by tearing a competitor (or customers/clients, for that matter) down.Avoid Copyright ClaimsAnother way you can avoid a lawsuit as the result of your marketing efforts is to steer clear from using other people’s images or names without consent. Celebrities may be public figures, but you do NOT have the right to use their name or photos without permission. While it may be fun to put a pic of your favorite teen pop-queen on your company’s blog post, complete with a funny caption using someone’s image without permission can send you straight to court to defend a copyright claim. Be sure to have permission to use any image, music and content.Use Special Care with Customer PropertyYou may operate a kennel or a picture framing business. You may repair electronics or jewelry. Whatever your business, if you have customer property in your care, control, or custody, you could be liable for damage. If you are in a position to handle customer property, you need to create policies and procedures to do so safely.Proper procedures for handling customer property may include:• Documenting the condition in which you received the property.• Carefully handling property to reduce the risk of damage.• Deciding how and where property is stored when in your care.Train your employees on the policies and procedures and emphasize their importance.Communicate Openly and HonestlyWhen you are providing a service or product for a customer, keep them in the loop as much as possible. Clients who feel they have been included in a conversation, their opinions are listened to, and are kept informed tend to be less likely to sue. Treat your clients with respect, keep the lines of communication open, and be honest in your interactions with them to reduce the chance of them feeling slighted (or damaged) by you and your business. If you make a mistake (and we all do…..), take ownership and apologize and do what you can to remedy the situation quickly and completely.Reducing the risk of damage and harm to a customer, client, or other third-party person takes time and a great deal of effort. But your efforts should pay off in the form of few or no liability claims to your Business Owner’s Policy. The less claims you file, the lower your insurance premium rates will be, which helps your business’ bottom line..
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