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The restaurant business is a great one because you get to serve customers and give them one thing they can always count on, food. And food can truly make some people happy simply with one bite. It is a very rewarding business to be in but then there is a downside. Hot stoves, knives, contamination, wet floors, cleaning, and sanitizing products, and storage areas are all things that can present a huge issue in the restaurant business. Because your employees are dealing with food and your customers are eating it there is also the risk of food poisoning. For all of these reasons, you must have the right insurance for your restaurant to cover your employees and your customers from any unexpected injuries. Don’t forget about your vendors too.
The foodservice industry almost always has the greatest number of claims because of the amount of risk the industry faces. Even though you will probably have all of your employees go through rigorous training and make sure they understand the risks, unforeseen things happen all of the time. Regardless of how well you and your employees prepare, you never know what your reaction will be in a tough situation. However, if you know what the most common restaurant injuries are, you can be better prepared.
Cuts and Punctures – Of course cuts, lacerations, punctures, and unfortunately even dismemberments are a very common injury in the restaurant business. Because your employees have access to some very sharp knives, broken dishes, and probably slicers there is an extremely high chance that at some point they will cut themselves. Be sure to have them remedy this immediately to avoid infection. The quicker it is treated the better chance they will have to get back to work quickly and with less insurance payout.
Burns – Cooking means hot stoves, grease, water, pots, and pans, and maybe even fire if you do wood fire grilling. Whatever the case may be, the chance for a burn in a restaurant is extremely high. There are about 12,000 burn reports every year from restaurants alone, and these are just the severe ones. Luckily, this means that most burns are small and can be treated right away with little to no interruption to their work. Hopefully, this will never happen to your restaurant, but if you serve coffee or extremely hot food a customer could burn themselves as well.
Slips and Falls – Grease and water can be very slippery even with slip-resistant shoes. Having many employees on one shift can cause traffic issues in the kitchen which could cause someone to trip. If a customer or employee spills something and it is not cleaned up properly, not only could an employee slip and fall but so could a customer. And while your employee is not likely to sue you, a customer certainly will. A common time of year to see slip and fall claims by customers is in the winter. Without having the proper salt down sidewalks and steps, if you have them, can get icy quickly.
Eyes – Employees frequently have eye injuries as well. Grease can splatter up into their eyes or they could be using cleaning supplies at the end of the night and accidentally get it into their eye. You probably have an eye washing station but because eyes are so sensitive, they could be severely injured.
Strains – Lifting heavy boxes of food or preparation items is bound to cause some strain on the employees. If they lift it wrong, turn wrong, or are simply struggling too much and sprain a muscle, this could cause issues for them being able to continue to work. Also, moving tables and chairs while cleaning or if you decide to move things around in the dining area could be another cause of strain on the employees. Unfortunately, there are many of these simple everyday things that you don’t always think about. That is why you must have Commercial insurance for your restaurant.
With the common injuries we discussed above, you must have the proper insurance in place. With all of the injuries comes medical bills, possible time off work, and maybe even a lawsuit. All of these things cost money, and you don’t want to have to reach into your profits to pay for them. Employees that work for you expect that if they are hurt on the job you will pay for it. And if a customer comes into your restaurant to simply eat and they are injured, you can bet that they will come after you for all that they can. Be prepared before it happens, not after when it is too late. And keep in mind, the injuries discussed above are not all-inclusive, they are just the most commonly reported ones.
Almost all of the most common restaurant injuries happen to the employees. If the injury happens to the customer you are probably looking at a lawsuit that would be covered under your General Liability insurance policy. Workers Compensation insurance is where you will find coverage for your employees. You must have Workers Compensation coverage for many reasons. One, so that you can pay the medical bills for your injured employee. As long as the injury or illness is work-related you will be responsible for them. It also ensures that they will get back to work more quickly if they don’t have to worry about getting proper medical care.
Another important reason to have Workers Compensation insurance for your restaurant is so that you can continue to pay the employees’ wages. When an employee is injured at work, they are going to be worried about being able to continue to pay their bills. You can give them the peace of mind knowing that your Workers Compensation insurance will cover it until they can get back to work. Of course, it will not be 100% of their normal income, but it will be some. This will encourage them to complete their medical treatment as quickly as possible and return to work so your restaurant can continue to operate, with hopefully no interruption.
Not only do insurance needs differ by industry, but they differ based on your individual restaurant needs. The type of insurance policies and coverage amounts you need are going to vary based on the size of your restaurant, what food you serve, if you serve alcohol, if you deliver food, and how much business you do. Every restaurant is going to have some common policies.
General Liability – For third party bodily injury and property damage, like when a customer slips and falls.
Commercial Property – Coverage for the building and items inside it if they become damaged due to things like fire, theft, wind, and lightning.
Cyber Liability – Because of credit card payments and the likelihood of a data breach, Cyber Liability is necessary for the restaurant business.
Employment Practices Liability insurance – Employees can claim things like discrimination, wage and hour disputes, or harassment so you should be prepared. Even if you think your employees are like family, most claims for this type of insurance have come out of small, family-owned businesses.
Now, if your restaurant delivers food this is where things can change a bit. You will need Commercial Auto insurance if the restaurant has any owned autos. Additionally, if your employees are using their personal vehicles to do any deliveries, you will want to have Hired and Non-owned Auto Liability so that if they cause an accident during their workday and the business is brought into the lawsuit, the restaurant will be covered. Make sure that your employees have their own insurance though, for their liability and physical damage to the car if they want it.
Another situation where things may be a little different from an insurance standpoint is if you serve or allow alcohol at your restaurant. If you serve it, or if you are mostly a bar, then you will need Liquor Liability insurance which is designed for those who serve, sell, or make alcohol. If your employees over-serve someone and they get in the car and cause an accident, your restaurant could be held liable for the damages. Or, if an intoxicated person starts a fight in your restaurant and assaults someone you could be on the hook for that too. However, if you simply allow BYOB in your restaurant then you only need Host Liquor Liability which will cover you for the same types of claims but is designed for those who do not sell, serve, or make. So, keep in mind if your restaurant is BYOB but you allow your waiters to pour the alcohol, you are technically serving and will need Liquor Liability.
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