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Insurance advice from TH March: July 2014

July 2014: Gift Focus readers put their insurance queries, concerns and questions to leading brokers T.H. March

How do I minimise risks to customers on my premises?
Customer personal injury claims can be costly and very damaging to a retail establishment's reputation. They can be much more frequent than employee claims in some types of stores, especially warehouses that allow customer access.
Employee safety programmes are not sufficient to protect customers, who are more at risk of accidents than employees for three main reasons:
1. Customers expect a retail premises to be safe.
2. Groups such as children and the elderly are predisposed to injury.
3. Unlike your employees, your customers don't receive safety training. So, it's important that you understand to what extent you are liable for customer injuries on your premises and take steps to prevent injury.

What is my liability?
You're required to maintain safe premises for your customers. In legal terms, you have a high duty of care. This includes the duty to warn customers of non-obvious, dangerous conditions that you know about, to use ordinary care in active operations in the business, and to make reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions and make them safe. Most customer accidents are preventable, so it's important to take steps to make your facility safer and less exposed to the risk of customer injury and litigation.

What are the most common types of customer injuries?
Common injuries that could become your liability include:
Slips and falls as a result of wet floors, torn carpets, poor lighting or escalators. This type of injury is extremely common.
Head and body injuries from falling objects, retail displays, out-of-reach objects or other mishaps.
Overcrowding injuries such as trampling.
Car park injuries as a result of cracked, improperly designed lots or failure to remove ice or snow.

What steps can I take to minimise risks?
Identify high-risk areas of the facility (such as where liquids are frequently spilt or tracked), and set up an employee inspection schedule to ensure it doesn't become a dangerous condition.
Install video cameras to monitor the premises more efficiently for dangerous conditions and provide proof in case of a claim.
During snowy, icy or rainy weather conditions, take care of dangerous situations on pavements, stairs and car parks promptly.
Ensure proper lighting in all areas of the store, and check on a regular basis that all bulbs are functioning. Document your inspections.
Ensure that displays are stable, and always put heavy items near the bottom of shelves.
Control crowds, especially during busy seasons or large sale events, through physical methods, such as entry turnstiles.
Design car parks to avoid injury. Repave, repair and check for hazardous conditions regularly. Document these inspections.

Liability insurance will address the cost of legal damages and claims up to policy limits. Work with T.H. March to design the liability package that best fits your business and you'll be able to select from a wide range of cover options to suit your individual needs.

Further information:
T.H. March is a chartered firm of insurance brokers. Established in 1887, the company has offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Sevenoaks, as well as its National Administration Centre in Yelverton near Plymouth. To find out more T: +44 (0)1822 855 555, E: giftware@thmarch.co.uk, or visit the website www.thmarch.co.uk