Your store has everything your customers could want so they can come in, get what they need, and continue with their lives. Seems a simple enough plan, but is your retail business prepared for things that can go wrong in this simple scenario? You may be surprised that it’s not.
One of the best ways to avoid business risk is to know your liabilities. Read on to learn more about the top four claims brought against a retail store and tips to help reduce the threat of these situations to your company.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls are frequent claims made against retail stores by customers. Keeping your store going into disarray requires continuous diligence by you and your team to stay organized and restocked. It’s not uncommon for customers to leave your shelves and aisleways a mess by the end of the day. This creates walking hazards in what should be a safe place to do some shopping.
There are several ways you can prevent these avoidable accidents:
- Keep your building’s exterior well-lit and free of hazards like snow and ice.
- Regularly walk through your store and ensure stock is organized and not presenting an injury risk.
- Assign employees specific duties for certain times of days that will help maintain a clutter-free, safe walking environment.
- Ensure that every time your team completes a tidying-up checklist, they sign it. This step provides evidence of your store’s efforts to keep the premises safe for customers if someone files an injury claim.
- When spills occur, or rain causes a roof leak, clean up the wet area right away and set up slip warning signs around slick spots on your floors.
- If your floor has mats or exposed cords, ensure they are properly secured and out of harm’s way.
- Areas with stairs should also be fitted with brightly colored warning tape and have a sign nearby warning visitors of the steps ahead.
Be sure to secure mats and exposed cords. And limit height differences between flooring materials to one-half inch or less.
For many of these situations, general liability insurance can offer adequate protection against claims by third parties for injuries incurred on your retail premises. However, it’s important to go above and beyond to keep your customers safe while shopping.
Natural Disasters and Fire Damage
Regardless of renting or owning your retail space, what can you do when severe weather or a fire causes damage to the structure and/or your inventory? While it’s almost impossible to prevent mother nature from ruining your building, there are steps you can take to minimize damage caused by these events. Even fire risks can be reduced if preventative measures are taken, including:
- Regularly inspect your fire extinguishers, alarms, and sprinkler systems to ensure they function correctly.
- Avoid water damage by having your plumbing winterized for colder winter months.
- Regularly conduct property inspections, including its electrical systems. Look for signs of electrical wiring fire risks, such as frayed wires, chewed wire casings, and loose connections.
- Your inventory is crucial to your business and would be a significant financial burden to replace. Keep your stock off the ground and on designated shelves or waterproof palettes.
- If you live in an area prone to severe weather events, like hurricanes and tornadoes, consider updating your retail space to withstand the damage from these events.
- For retail businesses that own stock rooms, ensure you have a working sprinkler system to quickly put out highly flammable items like clothing, paper products, and chemicals.
Commercial property insurance is one of your best investments in situations where your business location takes damage.
Theft and Break-ins
In the retail industry, theft constantly costs businesses thousands of dollars in lost revenue annually. However, from petty shoplifting to employee theft and break-ins, there are steps to take that reduce this risk through deterrence.
- For nighttime burglary prevention, consider installing motion-sensor floodlights and a quality security.
- Consider internal safety measures for you and your staff, such as door sensors that ring whenever someone enters your shop.
- Use inventory control to prevent internal theft issues.
- Merchandise electronic tags can go a long way in preventing shoplifting since they will cause a doorway sensor to sound off if someone walks out with one still attached.
- Items with a higher value should stay behind the counter in an attractive display. This measure ensures they get noticed while making them difficult to take.
- Keep your retail shop fully staffed so potential shoplifters will have a harder time going unnoticed when taking items.
Commercial crime insurance is another important step in mitigating the financial harm caused by theft. These policies cover various related crimes, including employee dishonesty, fraud, burglary, robbery, forgery, and more.
With every product you sell, you improve your customers’ lives. However, when one of your items turns out to be harmful and hurts one of your clients, you may be liable, even if you didn’t manufacture the product.
- Be extremely selective about the vendors you choose to supply your retail store and learn how they manufacture or acquire the products you sell.
- Don’t hesitate to regularly inspect the items you plan to sell and question quality and safety issues if you have any concerns.
- Stay up-to-date on any recalls that might concern something you sell.
General liability insurance covers a large swath of business risks besides customer injuries and property damage. For example, your business is also protected against lawsuits brought by customers who suffered injuries after using a product they bought from your establishment.
Retail Business Insurance is the Backbone of Any Risk Management Strategy
As a retail business owner, you owe it to your customers, employees, and company to take any necessary precautions to prevent accidents, prepare for unexpected business interruptions, and deter theft. This helps keep costs down and creates a more positive experience for those interacting with your brand. If you’re concerned about how much retail insurance costs, remember that the expense of coverage is significantly less than an uninsured claim.