How to Reduce the Impact of an Accident

As a small-business owner, you are accustomed to taking risk.  After all, building a business takes a lot of hard work and effort with little guaranteed reward.

One way to reduce risk and save money on insurance premiums and claims is to know how to appropriately respond to an accident or injury. Fortunately, with a bit of planning and preparation, it’s possible to dramatically impact the outcome of an accident.

Following are some tips to help you reduce risk and make sure everyone remains as safe as possible:

1. Remain Calm and Objective: Even if you suspect an employee contributed to the accident or that the accident is unrelated to the workplace, it is important to remain as levelheaded as possible. Treat every accident as legitimate and respond to the situation with appropriate measures, including first aid or medical attention, and refrain from voicing personal concerns, objections or accusations.

2. File Accident Reports: Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, but it is important to file an accident report as soon as possible if there are job-related injuries. Be sure to collect a statement from anyone involved in an accident, as well as from bystanders. Remember, several different agencies and organizations may be involved, including your commercial auto policy, small-business liability, personal umbrella policy and workers’ compensation, depending upon the nature of the accident and persons impacted. If you suspect foul play or intentional misrepresentation, contact the police and your insurance agent as soon as possible.

3. Document Everything: Take plenty of photographs, obtain written statements and retain all records related to an accident for at least seven years even if there were no additional claims. Obtain an accident report and copies of any other documents that may be pertinent. In the event a problem arises later on, you will have all the necessary information required to respond to a claim.

4. Prevention Is the Best Practice: Without a doubt, the best defense is a good offense when it comes to responding to accidents. Protect yourself by creating a comprehensive safety process that covers how accidents are to be reported, the use of company property and other expectations. Be sure every employee is provided with a copy when hired. It’s a good idea to work closely with your insurance agent to make sure the policy reflects the forms of coverage held by your company and to identify potential areas of concern.

5. Review Annually: Gaps in coverage can easily occur when new assets or employees are brought on board, so be sure to review policies and coverage options at least annually. Workers should be notified in writing of major modifications to the safety policy with a letter of acknowledgment included in personnel files for future reference.

6. Obtain Legal Advice When Needed: If you aren’t sure about your options, it might be worth the time and effort to have your attorney review items beforehand. Common examples include filling out insurance forms, meeting with insurance representatives and even signing checks. In most instances your insurance agent will be able to provide the guidance and information needed, but specialized circumstances may dictate the need for additional counsel or legal advice.