5 Easy Ways Your Business Can Avoid General Liability Claims

08
March 2017
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Preventing general liability claims is good for business, period. Your claims history is a factor that determines your insurance rates, so avoiding claims is one of the easiest ways to keep your insurance costs nice and affordable.

If a customer trips on your carpet, slips on a wet floor, or is injured by your equipment, your business could be facing a lawsuit. The average cost of a slip and fall claim for a small business is $20,000. And that’s just one small incident, one wet spot on a floor, one spilled beverage.

Whether you’re at fault or not, the cost of your legal defense can add up fast.

General liability insurance typically covers the costs of legal expenses if your business is sued by a customer, client, or other third-party.

Avoiding liability claims means preventing incidents that could lead to third-party lawsuits or claims for things like:

  • Property damage
  • Bodily injury
  • Copyright Infringement
  • Product Liability
  • Reputation Damage (slander/ libel)

Here are some ways your business can avoid a general liability claim.

#1: Create a Safety Culture

Some industries and businesses are inherently riskier than others. But putting safety first is always a good idea, no matter what type of business you’re in. The safer you make your workplace, the less you have to worry about accidents that lead to injuries or harm.

  • Define your safety vision and expectations with employees.
  • Assign safety responsibilities among managers and employees.
  • Enforce accountability and celebrate victories.
  • Keep up-to-date on the safety standards for your industry, equipment, or products.
  • Maintain 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 a customer, employee, or anyone else.

#2: Invest in Employee Training

Ongoing employee training is essential for your business. That means ongoing safety training, of course. But it also means keeping your employees up-to-date on your latest policies and procedures and changes to your product lines. And if your employees are helping you with your marketing efforts, you can avoid some GL claims in this area, as well.

You are responsible for your employees, their actions, and their words at the workplace. When you have an employee handling your social media accounts, marketing efforts, or acting as a representative of your business, you will want to make sure they are following this next essential tip….

#3: Market Yourself with Class

No matter what your business, there’s a chance you’re doing some sort of digital marketing. And in today’s digital marketing world, where every business has a website, social media accounts, and access to Facebook ads, it can be very easy to make a costly marketing mistake.

Whether you manage your marketing efforts yourself, or have an employee or service do it for you, make sure you don’t try to boost yourself up by tearing a competitor down.

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).

If your employee takes to Twitter to blast the competition or respond with vengeance to a negative remark left by a customer, you could be facing a lawsuit for their libelous actions.

#4: Avoid Costly Copyright Claims

Another digital peril that faces your business is copyright infringement. When you’re blogging for business, creating content for your website, or using social media for promotion, steer clear from using other people’s images, names, or work without their consent.

  • Love your competitor’s latest blog post? Don’t steal it. Get inspired, instead. How could you expand on that topic and write one that’s even better?
  • Need some pictures for your website? Don’t screenshot one off of Google Image search. Buy some stock photos or, even better, take your own pictures and use a photo editing app to take them to the next level.

Make sure that you have permission to use the images, music, videos, writing, and content that you use for business purposes.

#5: Treat Customer Property with Special Care

If you have customer property in your care, control, or custody while operating your business, you could be liable for damage to that property. You may have a mobile detail business where you service customer vehicles on the go. Or you may employ your craft to repair customer-owned jewelry, watches, or furniture. Whatever your business, if you are in a position to handle customer property, you need to create procedures and policies for how 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.

Once you’ve determined the procedures for handling customer property, make sure your employees are trained and adhere to your policies.

Reducing the risk of damage and harm to a customer, client, or other third-party person takes time, effort, training, and some good old fashioned policies and procedures. But if you can avoid general liability claims, the effort is well worth it. The fewer claims you file, the lower your insurance premium rates will be. And that’s just simply good for business.

 

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