Keeping people and property safe in your inn is of paramount importance, but this also goes hand in hand with ensuring that you and your business are protected, should the unexpected occur and leave you with a financial loss, or potential claim against you. We put some questions to Ian McCarron, a director of commercial insurance broker and risk manager, Gauntlet Group, to help you understand the ins and outs of insurance and health and safety.
What kind of insurance does an innkeeper need to have in place?
This depends upon how the inn is owned. An inn’s insurance requirements generally fall under two headings: property and liability. If you don’t own the building, because you are a leaseholder or tenant, your landlord will probably be responsible for protecting the fabric of the building through buildings insurance. You, on the other hand, will most likely be responsible for arranging insurance cover for contents, including stock, and for both employer and public liability insurance. If you don’t include cover for contents, you could potentially lose everything, should a fire, flood or other significant incident occur.
What does liability insurance cover and is it optional?
Employers liability insurance protects you in the event of an employee suffering an injury or illness whilst working for you. If an employee submits a claim for compensation due to injury or illness suffered whilst at work as a result of your negligence, this insurance will settle the amount awarded, including legal costs. If you have more than one member of staff, this type of insurance is obligatory.
Public liability insurance is a must in the hospitality sector, as you have so many interactions with members of the public, who visit your premises as guests, customers, diners and even workmen and suppliers. This insurance covers you for claims for compensation made by those who visit you.
Do I need any other types of insurance?
Talk to a knowledgeable broker about this. It may be advisable for you to have business interruption, or keyman insurance, which would protect you if you had to stop trading because of an incident, or fell ill and are the person instrumental to the running of the business. You could also consider cyber insurance, but an expert broker should visit you, review your individual business and advise what your particular circumstances require.
How can I reduce the chances of having a liability claim against me?
The simple answer to this is ‘effective risk management’. You are required, by law, to have a risk assessment in place, and a written record of a risk and fire risk assessment, if you employ more than five people. You must consider all possible risks, such as fire, environmental health, trips and slips, manual handling risks, electrical safety, legionella and perhaps even asbestos. You must thoroughly audit your premises, including outdoor areas, to identify and minimise any risk to both employees and the public. In addition to insurance claim pay outs, recent changes in legislation have led to increased fines for employers who do not take risk management seriously, even if no actual incident has occurred.
Can I get help with this?
You can ask an expert to help you conduct assessments and draw up recommendations. Gauntlet Health and Safety’s team is continuously helping businesses manage their risk and has just launched online e-learning tools that could be useful to you. These include video and 3D animations, to help you learn and understand how to handle different scenarios, including fire safety, manual handling, legionella and food hygiene. For a small outlay, these could help both you and your employees exercise better duty of care, which helps manage the reputation of your business and its public image. Go to www.gauntlethealthandsafety.com to view the options.