Is Your Business Protected This Holiday Season?


‘Tis the season for merriment—and we hate to be the ones to mention it, but it also can be the season with the potential for increased liability. Now’s the time to make your list and check it twice to ensure that your business liability insurance is up to date for some common potential hazards that can occur during the holiday season.

Holiday Hazard 1: Fires

Most statistics about holiday fires revolve around home fires, but that’s not to say that the risks aren’t equally real in a business setting—and involve many of the same behaviors that put your house at risk. Whether you want to enjoy the fresh smell and ambiance of a live tree, or your employees are plugging in multiple extension cords as they decorate their workspace, you’re playing with fire if you’re not extra attentive to fire risks.

The Fix:

Talk to your landlord about precautions for safe decorating, which typically involves keeping live trees out of the workplace and insisting on “fake” candles only. And, check your fire insurance to make sure you’re covered for full replacement value for all your costly equipment. It’s also a smart idea to double-check your back-up storage to ensure that important files aren’t lost should a fire occur.

Holiday Hazard 2: Holiday parties

It’s hard to believe that festive merriment can be a hazard, but in the era of #MeToo, firms are warier than ever of socializing—especially when alcohol is involved. In fact, fewer companies are holding holiday parties, with one survey finding the lowest number since the recession of 2009. Those that do need to be wary of potential risks and do what they can to mitigate them.

The Fix:

Consider holding your event in the day for more control over revelry. If you do decide to host an evening soiree, limit the amount of alcohol that is offered to each guest (if any). Trained servers can help make sure imbibers are legally supposed to drink and that no one is being overserved, to the best of their knowledge. You might want to look into liquor liability insurance, although a one-time event is likely to fall under the umbrella of “social host liquor liability,” which means that your general business liability insurance policy should cover an alcohol-related incident. Of course, that protection won’t extend to any negligence. And note that social host liquor liability laws vary by state.

Holiday Hazard 3: Icy conditions

Sometimes you’ll find that the weather outside is “frightful,” this time of year, as the beloved song says. When ice and snow accumulate, your business could be at risk from clients, patrons or employees slipping in the parking lot or on icy stairs or front walks or even sliding as they enter, as the floors become soggy from people tracking in rain or mush.

The Fix:

Make sure that you routinely check parking lots and front areas and keep walks and steps clear. Use moisture-wicking, non-slip mats inside your doors and try to keep up on drying the floors. Post hazard signs to warn visitors of wet, potentially slippery conditions. And, of course, make sure you have adequate commercial umbrella insurance in place.

Holiday Hazard 4: Decorating mishaps

Decking the halls is fun and festive, but can also be the cause of accidents, from falling off ladders while hanging lights to cuts, bruises or scrapes from sharp decor. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports an average of nearly 15,000 ER-treated injuries related to decorating each holiday season. Of those, more than 40% involve falls, and about three of the falls per season are fatal.

The Fix:

When using a ladder, follow guidelines offered by the National Safety Council (NCS) which offers suggestions on choosing the right ladder for the job and making sure you have safe surroundings before climbing. It’s also smart to have a spotter or other bystander helping you out. And in general, make sure that you take care when decorating, including wearing appropriate clothing, such as pants and shirts that cover your skin, gloves, eye covering if needed and closed-toe, slip-proof shoes. As we head to the festive season, now is the time to review your insurance policies to double-check that everything is in place. Contact O’Kane and Tegay Insurance Brokers today to discuss any questions you have, and ensure that your holidays stay merry and bright.