Increase in California Restaurant Wage & Hour Violation Citations

Why has there been a recent increase in wage and hour violations for California restaurants?

“It’s a commitment to being more proactive, more aggressive, conducting more meaningful in depth investigations, and having deputies spend more time in the field and getting wages back in workers’ pockets.

“It’s also about letting the good employers who are following the law know that we are there to protect them,” said According to California Labor Commissioner, Julie Su.

Su says most investigations start when workers complain. This may lead to an investigation where the restaurant is visited, employees are interviewed, the restaurant is audited and payroll records are inspected thoroughly.

In many cases, workers receive a payout. If you own a restaurant, it’s a good idea to review the wage and hour laws to make sure you are in compliance. Next, employment practices liability insurance can help protect you financially in the event of a lawsuit.

If you have a restaurant in Southern California and would like to know more about employment practices liability insurance, call the restaurant insurance experts at Invensure, (949) 756-4100.

Food Liability Insurance. What is it and why do you need it?

When you are producing food for the public, it doesn’t matter if you serve it in a restaurant, a café, or plan to sell it in stores or at a farmers’ market. If someone gets sick from the food you make, you could be liable for the cost of their medical expenses, or worse, if you get sued on a mass scale by a number of individuals who became ill.

To protect yourself, food product liability insurance is a must. There are several different forms of this type of insurance including product liability insurance, food contamination coverage, and food recall coverage, to name a few. These forms of coverage would be in addition to your regular liability or umbrella insurance policies.

Even if you do not have your own restaurant, kitchen, or bakery, and are producing food in a facility that you rent, most commercial kitchens will require you to have insurance. Also, if you are manufacturing food for distribution, most major retailers will require that you have suitable insurance before they will make a deal with you. Farmers’ markets generally require vendor liability insurance.

Food liability insurance is relatively inexpensive, and will vary depending on the type of food you are producing and how you plan to distribute it. For example, most baked goods and items that do not require refrigeration are generally considered lower risk. On the other hand, food products that are considered specialty health products (gluten-free, organic, etc.) can be a higher risk.

In general, the cost of your insurance will be related to the risk you are assuming and will be affected by the following factors:

• the amount of products you sell or supply
• quality control and safety measures in the manufacturing process
• where the manufacturing is located
• type of product and the specific market for that product
• your insurance history and any loss claims

Food product liability is a complex subject and you should only work with an expert who has a lot of experience in the food industry. A common mistake made by food producers is to try and find the insurance they need for themselves, or worse yet, use a friend who has little experience insuring for the food industry.

Invensure has a complete program for the food industry in Southern California. Call (800) 331-4700 and ask for Vicki, the food industry specialist.

4 Risks Restaurant Owners May Not Have Considered

Restaurant owners have expanded their operations to help increase their bottom lines. Along with some of these creative additions to combat the recession  come increased liabilities they may not have considered.

Some things they may have done to bring in more revenue are delivering meals, start a catering business, sell new trends of food such as gluten-free or organics, and accept non-traditional forms of payment via smart phone.

While these creative methods of expanding your business may have improved your bottom line, restaurant owners may not have considered the extra liability they have assumed in doing so.

Delivery Services

If you have recently added delivery of meals to your customers, did you hire drivers with their own cars? If so, there are several considerations you must address. If you should face a lawsuit because of a vehicle accident with one of your drivers, these items can halp you reduce your liability.

Did you know that regular commercial auto coverage does not cover liability for drivers who use their own cars? That is what hired and non-owned auto coverage is for. You should also make sure you have adequate umbrella coverage to cover awards for injuries from vehicle accidents.

In addition to insurance issues, you should also implement special hiring screenings to check the DMV records of your drivers. Your new drivers should have minimal tickets, no at-fault accidents, and no DUIs. This ensures you have a driver with safer driving habits. You should also make sure that the driver has the necessary insurance coverage and their policy does not exclude business operation.

Another thing you should do is make sure that you develop strong employment policies for your drivers. These policies should outline safe driving and liability reducing practices for while they are on the job, including no cell phone use, obey all speed limits, no drinking on the job, no passengers while on the job, proper vehicle maintenance, and other restrictions you deem as necessary to ensure minimal liability.

Catering

There are several important aspects regarding catering and offering food off-site that a restaurant owner should consider as liabilities. These include workers’ compensation, liquor liability, and the delivery driver considerations mentioned above.

When employees are delivering food off-site, they may face additional chance of injury. First, they may be lifting heavy trays and moving them from a delivery truck to a location. Next, they are in a foreign environment and not as familiar with the terrain. This combination of factors makes them more prone to injuries such as back strain and slip, trip and fall injuries. You should make sure your workers’ compensation policy includes events outside your restaurant, as not all do.

The next consideration is liquor liability. Make sure your policy includes off-premises liquor liability. Staff should also be trained to limit serving guests who have had too much, and avoid serving minors.

If you cater a lot of events, your insurance should cover that. If you only cater a few events a year, it may be more cost effective to get individual coverage for each event. Talk to a qualified agent when making these types of considerations.

Specialized Ingredients

There are definite trends in the food industry considering types of foods. Such trends include organic, raw, local, and gluten-free food, just to name a few. As times change and certain foods fall in and out of fashion, you may want to consider your liability that comes with each new trend.

While health considerations are a main driver of these types of trends, it does not exclude them from the risk of contamination. While large retailers have strong food recalls in place, smaller local farmers may not have as much experience of control. You should ask to see their proof of liability insurance when making a deal with them. In addition, it is a good idea that they are insured with a reputable insurance carrier and that your restaurant is added as an additional insured.

Customer Credit Protection & Cyber Security

Every day there are more and more ways for customers to pay for their meals. An increasing trend is to accept forms of payment over a website or on a customer’s smart phone. With more ways to accept payment comes more potential liability.

To protect themselves, restaurant owners should consider cyber liability insurance. This will protect them in the event they are hacked into and customers suffer from credit damage as a result.

Restaurant Insurance 101: The Basics of Business Insurance

Does a liability policy cover every incident? Of course not, but you can mitigate your legal risks by making sure you have the right policies in place. Here are the most common policies that your business will need to cap your legal and financial exposure:

General Liability (GL). This is the most common type of business liability policy. GL covers injuries caused to others, damage to the property of others, and may cover personal and advertising injury coverage, such as incidents caused by libel or slander. Many of these policies include products liability, which covers defective products that might cause injury or property damage.

Employment Practices Liability (EPLI). EPLI insurance is becoming more and more necessary for employers, both large and small alike. EPLI provides protection against employee lawsuits such as discrimination, sexual harassment, failure to employ, and many others. This coverage generally does not pay for punitive damages, but instead will pay for the company’s legal costs associated with a covered lawsuit.

Errors & Omissions Coverage (E&O). Also known as malpractice insurance, E&O provides coverage to individuals and firms who provide a certain expertise and counseling to their clients. When a professional receives payment in exchange for services, they are held to a high standard by both the client and the legal system. Although incidents are not common, when they do happen they are very costly.

Directors & Officers Liability (D&O). This type of insurance is taken out to protect legal action against directors and officers of a company. Any firm that has a board of directors, such as privately held companies, non-profit organizations, and homeowners associations, need this coverage. Anyone serving on a board without this coverage is putting their own personal assets at risk. Legal action against Directors and Officers can come from competitors, government agencies, creditors, employees, stockholders, and other third parties.

Auto Liability. A business should not neglect getting Auto Liability even if they don’t own any vehicles. If an incident happens during working hours and the injured employee was using their personal vehicle for business use, the business may be named as a party to legal action on any injury or property damage that may occur. If the business is using personal vehicles on the job full time, it is probably best to have those insured under the company to make sure the company has coverage against legal action due to an automobile incident.

Specialized Insurance for Restaurants and the Food Industry. In addition to the basics mentioned above, there are many policies that pertain specifically to the food industry. For example, food spoilage coverage, food contamination, food product liability, equipment breakdown, valet coverage, crime, flood, liquor liability, and mold are just a few that are important to most restaurants. Depending on your specific business, the types of coverage you need will vary.

Each business is different, which is why it’s so important to review all potential exposures with your agent to determine if any of these exposures can be covered by insurance. A business owner truly gets a great bang for their buck when having these liability policies because as mentioned earlier, you are dealing with experts who know how to leverage their expertise most effectively.

These types of insurance policies also bring more certainty to your business, the premium is all you pay, you have no worries of losing your business or facing significant setbacks due to spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars defending and paying claims that most people have no idea how to handle.

Couple Arrested for Not Having Workers’ Compensation Insurance in their California Restaurant

A couple that owned a small coffee shop was arrested for Workers’ Compensation Fraud. They did not have workers compensation insurance for their employees and were taken to jail on $20,000 bail each.

“Employers must provide their employees with insurance to cover injuries that occur on the job,” Commissioner Poizner said. “If we find that you have purposefully failed to do so, you will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The original article is here.

If you have questions about your restaurant insurance in Southern California, call Vicki Fagan at (949) 756-4100. She is the restaurant insurance specialist at Invensure Insurance Brokers.

How to Save Money on Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Restaurants: Safety Programs

Did you know that for all employment related injuries and illnesses that occur worldwide, one out of 20 occur at eating and drinking establishments?

The 4 most common injuries at restaurants include: cust, burns, strains, and eye injuries. Because of frequent contact with knives, slicers, and broken dishes and glasses, restaurant staff are prone to cuts and lacerations.

The second most common injuries at restaurants are burns, for obvious reasons. Approximately one-third of all job-related burns occur in restaurants.

Sprains and strains are next on the list of injuries to restaurant workers. Overreaching, trips and falls, hard-to-reach items, and improper lifting are the major causes of this type of injury.

Eye injuries are the fourth most common injury in restaurants because of splashes from grease or cleaning agents.

According to studies from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “for every $1 spent in safety programs, businesses can save between $4 to $6 from costs associated with injuries and fatalities.”

Because the cost of your workers’ compensation is directly affected by the number and severity of claims, a good safety program is the first step in lowering the cost of your workers compensation premium.

Invensure offers safety training programs for restaurants as a part of our complete risk management and insurance service. Call (949) 756-4100 and ask for Vicki, our restaurant specialist, to learn more about the program.