They say that the best defense is a good offense. And that’s certainly true when it comes to protecting your business from insurance claims. Accidents will happen, of course. And a solid insurance program is the best way to protect your assets when they do. But you can also minimize your risk proactively by putting a few simple safeguards in place
Tips for Preventing Fires
Fires can be devastating to a small business. Your physical space, equipment, supplies and files can be swiftly destroyed by flames, water and smoke. And while your property insurance will help you rebuild, it can take many months to recover fully from a serious fire.
Follow these tips to help prevent fires or contain them when they do occur:
- Contact your local fire department and ask the fire marshall to assess your property for fire hazards. Then follow his or her advice.
- Install fire alarms, smoke detectors, CO2 alarms and a sprinkler system. These can prevent thousands of dollars in damage to your property, and are well worth the upfront cost.
- Have an appropriate number of fire extinguishers on the property. All-purpose extinguishers won’t damage electrical equipment, so they’re your best bet.
- Have an evactuation plan clearly posted in your building(s), and hold a fire drill at least once a year. Your worker’s lives are one thing your insurance cannot replace.
Tips for Preventing Burglaries and Theft
Most thefts and burglaries are crimes of opportunity, so a little advance planning can help keep your business safe and decrease the liklihood of insurance claims. Some basic safety tips include:
- Trim bushes and shrubs so they do not obstruct windows
- Install motion sensor lights outdoors
- Have indoor lights on a timer, so it appears that someone is working even after hours.
- Consider tinting your windows — thieves are less likely to break in if they can’t see what’s inside.
- Install an alarm system that notifies the police automatically when it goes off.
- If you’re doing business in a high-crime area, consider hiring a security guard or a security service to patrol the area after hours.
Tips for Preventing Slips and Falls
Slips and falls are one of the most common causes of liability insurance claims and a major cause of injuries to workers as well. Yet most of these types of accidents can be avoided with a little bit of attention to your physical space. Here are a few suggestions that will help keep your customers and your employees safe.
- Replace frayed or worn rugs
- Protect entryways with adsorbent pads with beveled edges
- Promptly clean up spills of any kind
- Have “wet floor” signs on hand and use them as needed
- Keep aisles clear of debris and electrical cords
- Clear snow from your premises promptly
- Sand icy areas liberally
- Install traction strips in areas that tend to be slippery when they’re wet.
- Have appropriate safety equipment available for workers and make sure they’re trained in their use.
Tips for Preventing Automobile Accidents
Auto accidents are a common cause of insurance claims for small businesses, so it’s important to have business automobile insurance in place to protect any vehicles the company owns. Just as important, though, is keeping those vehicles in good repair and making sure that anyone who drives them has the skills and experience they need. Some important safety practices include:
- Never allow an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle
- Have vehicles inspected regularly, especialy fluids, tires and brakes.
- Make repairs promptly.
- If you are in an area where inclement weather is an issue, ensure that all of your employees are trained to drive safely when the weather is bad.
Tips for Preventing Product Liability Insurance Claims
A customer can bring a product liability claim against any part of a product’s supply chain. That means that retailers or wholesalers can be hit with insurance claims even if they had no part in creating the defect that caused harm. Unfortunately, the only “prevention” in these types of cases is to make sure you have product liability insurance in place.
If you’re a product manufacturer, on the other hand, or if your a service provider who instructs customers about a product’s use, there are a few things you can do.
- Make sure the product includes clear directions about all of its intended uses, not just its primary use.
- Clearly warn the customer about any hazards they might encounter when using the product.
- If you’re leasing equipment (such as bicycles or watercraft) have the customer demonstrate that they know how to use it safely before leaving your place of business.
Even the most conscientious business owners can’t protect themselves against all insurance claims. But making safety a priority can help to keep your assets safe and your insurance premiums low.