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.
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.
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.
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.