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A Clean Kitchen Can Reduce Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Nov 04, 2019

AIG man cleaning kitchen counterIf you are a restaurant owner or manager, you already understand how vital a clean kitchen is to the safety of your customers. But have you ever considered how a clean kitchen can save you money, such as lowering your restaurant insurance and litigation costs?

Unfortunately, with so many other responsibilities, keeping a restaurant kitchen clean can be a real challenge. Having a cleaning and sanitizing process in place (and strictly enforced) can help make the process much easier.

First, we’re going to remind you why a clean kitchen is key to any restaurant's success and then provide some tips to help you create a cleaning and sanitizing process for your restaurant.

4 Reasons to Maintain a Clean Restaurant:

Keep Your Customers Safe

The obvious reason to keep restaurants – from kitchens to dining tables - impeccably clean is to avoid cross-contamination and food-borne pathogens that can make your customers sick. Also, a buildup of grease that is not properly cleaned can cause a fire putting employees, customers, and your bottom line at risk.

Pass Restaurant Health Inspections

Health inspections are real and can occur at any time – typically one to four times a year. Having a process in place to keep your restaurant clean helps ensure that your restaurant passes health inspections and helps you avoid fines (or closure) if you don’t pass inspection.

Two of the most common health code violations are poor kitchen sanitation and cross-contamination that can lead to food illness; therefore, maintaining a clean restaurant at all times should be your goal.

Maintain a Good Reputation

Having a clean restaurant – both front-of-house areas and behind the scenes - is imperative to your restaurant’s reputation. People will not dine at a visibly dirty restaurant (at least not more than once), and having your restaurant shut down because of a health violation doesn’t exactly instill confidence in your customers.

Keep Restaurant Costs Down

A clean restaurant can help minimize the cost of legal fees and medical costs; thereby, helping to lower your restaurant insurance costs. Plus, a sanitized and clean kitchen helps cut down on food waste.

How to Maintain a Clean Restaurant?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to sanitation and food safety is the control of bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins, chemicals, and pathogens like Norovirus and Listeria, which can result in food-borne illness.

On average, one in ten people will become ill, and 420,000 will die every year after eating contaminated food, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Food contamination can occur at any time during food production, distribution, and preparation. Any surface that touches food must be regularly cleaned and sanitized – including countertops, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, flatware, tables, microwaves, and even high chairs.

Having a cleaning and sanitizing process in writing, training all employees on that process, and enforcing that process are key to a clean restaurant. Here are some tips for developing that process in your restaurants.

Basic Steps to Clean All Surfaces:

  1. Remove debris from the item by scraping or rinsing it.
  2. Remove soil by washing the object in detergent.
  3. Rinse with hot water.
  4. Sanitize with a chemical sanitizer or hot water (180F) to reduce pathogens. Sanitization reduces 99.999% of pathogenic microorganisms.
  5. Air dry. Do not rinse or use a towel to dry it after it has been sanitized.

What Should Be Cleaned and When?

While preparing food, cooks should practice basic food safety procedures, such as switching cutting boards and brushing grills between cooking fish, poultry, and red meat.

Tasks performed after each shift should include tasks such as cleaning cooking equipment; washing utensils, plates, and glassware; and sweeping and mopping the floors.

Daily tasks include cleaning out grease traps and running hood filters through the dishwasher.

Weekly tasks should include emptying, washing, and sanitizing reach-in coolers; cleaning coffee machines; and using drain cleaners on floor drains.

Monthly tasks should include things like cleaning freezers, emptying and sanitizing ice machines, washing walls and ceilings, and wiping down storage areas.

There are also annual tasks (that aren’t exactly cleaning but are important), some of which may require a professional, such as checking the fire suppression system, fire extinguishers, the hoods, and pilot lights on gas equipment.

The Webstaurantstore offers a printable checklist that you can start with, but creating checklists specific to your restaurant ensures that everything is covered.

Want to Save Even More on Your Restaurant Insurance?

American Insuring Group specializes in restaurant insurance and offers an extensive blog that provides information about how you can save on restaurant insurance. Plus, as independent agents, we can compare costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price.  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Small Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Safety

Valet Service Impacts Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 20, 2019

Restaurant_Insurance_Valet_Parking_300If you’re trying to set your restaurant apart, you may consider offering valet service. This service could make sense if you have limited parking at your restaurant or just want to offer a service that goes above and beyond what is expected.

If you decide that valet service is something that you want to offer your customers, do a little research first to understand your risks and how to protect your restaurant from those risks.

Parking lots and garages may seem like safe places, but it’s that false sense of security that contributes to the fact that one out of every five motor vehicle accidents takes place in a parking lot. Tens of thousands of accidents occur in parking lots and garages every year, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, along with property damage to vehicles and structures, according to the National Safety Council.

The good news is that the right Restaurant Insurance coverage can help protect your restaurant from liability, injuries, and damage these accidents cause.

Valet Service Options and the Risks

If you decide to hire your own drivers, they become your employees, which means your restaurant is held liable for their actions. Therefore, you would want to make sure that your Commercial Liability Insurance for your restaurant covers any incidents.

The advantage of hiring your own drivers is that you have control over who is hired to drive your customers’ vehicles and how they are trained.

Here Are Three Save Driving Tips to Share With Your Drivers:

  1. Slow down – Don’t drive any faster than 5-10 mph unless there are posted speed limits.

  2. Pay Attention – Pay attention to pavement markings and traffic signs. Use extra caution while backing out of a space. Every year, about 300 deaths and 18,000 injuries are caused by drivers backing out of parking spaces and driveways. Watch for pedestrians and other cars, and take advantage of backup cameras available in most cars today.

  3. Don’t Get Distracted – Don’t text while driving or walking in a parking lot or garage.

The second option is hiring a third-party company, which significantly lowers your risk but does take away your control of the hiring and training of drivers. You would still need insurance to protect your property if a driver causes damage.

Restaurant Insurance Options for Valet Service

Here are some types of insurance you may want to consider if you decide to add valet services for your restaurant:

  • Commercial General Liability (CGL)– CGL should cover damage to customers’ cars caused by your driver.
  • Workers Compensation – State laws require most businesses that have employees to have WC Insurance. It pays medical expenses and lost wages incurred if an employee is injured on the job along with legal costs if an employee sues you over the injury.
  • Employee Dishonesty – This insurance covers lost or stolen items in a customers’ vehicle, which is not covered by CGL.
  • Garage Liability Insurance – This is a type of umbrella policy that adds a layer of protection to your General Liability Insurance and helps protect your business from property damage and bodily injury
  • Garage Keepers Coverage – This insurance covers damage to your customers’ vehicles.

As with any insurance policy, there are exclusions and limitations to these types of insurance. For example, if your driver parks and locks the vehicle properly and it is vandalized, broken into, or receives weather-related damage, your insurance would NOT cover it. The vehicle owner’s insurance should cover in that situation.

A Good Insurance Agent Can Help You With All Your Commercial Insurance Needs

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance, including Restaurant Insurance. Plus, as independent agents, we check with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the right coverage at the best price.  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Commercial Liability Insurance for Farmers Market Vendors

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 22, 2019

Liability-Insurance-for-Farmers-Market-Vendors-300As the “buy local food” movement continues to gain traction, the U.S. is experiencing an increase in the number of farmers markets across the country.  According to the Farmers Market Coalition, there were less than 2,000 farmers markets in 1994, which has grown to more than 8,600 markets today.

Many vendors have discovered that farmers markets are an easy and economical way to sell everything from produce and honey to cheeses and meats to prepared foods such as jams and pickled items and much more. As with any business endeavor, being a vendor at a farmers market opens you up to liability issues, so you need to make sure you have the right commercial liability insurance to protect yourself.

Farmers Market Vendor Liability Exposure

The two most common types of liability for farmers market vendors are general liability and product liability. General liability involves risks associated with injuries caused by trips and falls, unsecured tents, etc.

Product liability is associated with the food that you sell. The most common product liability issue is food borne illness, but violations in state health regulations – regardless of whether a consumer is harmed or not – can result in a claim.

The good news is that there is plenty you can do to minimize your liability risks and the costs associated with them. Here's how ...

5 Tips to Protect Your Farmers Market Vendor Business

Safety Training

Knowing how to handle and prepare food safely will help minimize your exposure to product liability, and food safety training for all employees might even lower your insurance premiums. Training should include why cleanliness (of hands, tools, prep space, etc.) is so important, how to prevent food cross-contamination, safe food temperatures (see below), and food allergies.

Keep Produce Clean

If you’re selling produce, it’s essential to make sure it is as clean as possible at all times regardless of where it came from or how it was grown (organic, pesticide-free, etc.). Thoroughly clean everything before setting up shop and continue to clean it throughout the day as it is exposed to dust, insects, and people.

Know Your Produce

Consumers are becoming smarter and more particular about the food they’re eating. If you’re selling produce, you should know your product – where it was grown, what (if anything) your produce has been treated with, and whether or not it is organic, pesticide-free, or GMO-free. You’ll need to be able to answer those questions if a consumer asks.

Pay Attention to Temperature

Temperature is one of the most critical elements of food safety. If you want to help ensure the safety of your customers, keep inspectors happy, and keep your insurance costs down, you need to follow food safety temperatures  – during preparation and storage.

The temperature danger zone is between 41 and 135°F. The longer food sits in that temperature range, the higher the risk of bacteria.

Maintain and keep your refrigeration equipment clean, and regularly check to ensure that it is keeping your food properly chilled.

Purchase the Right Insurance

Many farmers markets will require you to have general liability insurance to protect your business and the market. Even if they don’t, it’s a smart business move. Despite all of your best efforts, accidents do happen. Without the proper protection, one lawsuit from someone who trips and falls at your stand or gets sick after eating your food could mean the end of your business.

The farmers market may also require that you add the market and/or the municipality as an “additional insured.” An additional insured enjoys the benefits of the policy you purchase. There may be an extra fee for an “additional insured.”

Want to Ensure You Get the Best Price on Insurance?

Contact one of the experienced agents at the American Insuring Group. Not only do we specialize in Commercial Liability Insurance to ensure that you get the right coverage, but as independent agents, we can compare the cost of that coverage with multiple carriers to ensure you get the best price. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Restaurant Safety

National Food Safety Month and Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 08, 2019

food-safety-restaurant-insurance-300As a restaurant owner, your number one priority should be ensuring the safety of the food you serve. Beyond the human element of food safety, foodborne illness can result in negative publicity, huge fines, possible jail time, lawsuits, and higher Restaurant Insurance costs.

In 2016, there were 5,353 cases of food borne illnesses in the U.S. attributed to sit-down dining establishments, 4,139 to fast food restaurants, and 3,116 to catering or banquet facilities.

September is National Food Safety Education Month making it the perfect time to focus on food safety in your restaurant. 

What is a Food borne Illness?

The FDA defines food borne illness as “a common, costly, sometimes life-threatening – yet largely preventable – public health problem.” The two most common food borne pathogens that cause food borne illness are bacteria (Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli) and viruses (norovirus or hepatitis A).

Anyone can get a food borne illness, but pregnant women, young children, and older people have weaker immune systems, which means they are at a higher risk.

Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening illness. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms can include abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, aches, and fatigue.

Tips to Prevent Food Borne Illness

Pay attention to these three areas - Cleanliness, keeping certain foods separated, and cooking and storage temperatures – to prevent food borne illness:

Cleanliness

Eliminate illness-causing germs by keeping everything in your kitchen clean. That includes food, utensils, cutting boards, work surfaces, and your hands.

  • Wash fruits and vegetables, poultry, eggs, or bagged produce marked “pre-washed.” Cut out damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables and rinse under running water (without bleach, soap, or commercial produce washes). Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush fruit and vegetables with a paper towel or clean cloth.
  • Wash all utensils, cutting boards and surfaces after each use with hot, soapy water, and frequently wash dishcloths in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Wash your hands frequently including before, during, and after preparing food, after using the bathroom, and after handling garbage. Use plain soap and water to wash your hands thoroughly, including the backs of your hands, under nails, between fingers, etc. Then rinse and dry with a clean towel.

Keep Certain Foods Separated

Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods while storing and during preparation. Use different plates, utensils, and cutting boards for cooked and raw foods. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and another for produce and other foods that won’t be cooked before consumption.

Pay Attention to Storage and Cooking Temperatures

Bacteria that can cause food illness multiply the quickest between 40°F and 140°F, so keep your refrigerator at to 40°F or below and your freezer to 0°F or below. Put perishable food in the fridge within two hours. Foods exposed to temperatures above 90°F should be refrigerated within one hour. Thaw or marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

Using a food thermometer, cook food to the right internal temperature.

Pay attention to these three areas, and make sure that your staff is adequately trained on food safety to avoid food borne illness. Your customers and your bank account will thank you.

Want to Save More on Restaurant Insurance?

Another way to save on restaurant insurance is to work with an independent agent like the experienced agents at the American Insuring Group who can compare your restaurant insurance costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price on your Restaurant Insurance. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Safety

Restaurant Liability Insurance to Protect Your Investment

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Aug 06, 2019

Restaurant-Liability-InsuranceThere is no denying that we live in a litigious society, and restaurants are not immune to lawsuits. In fact, the very nature of the business often makes them more vulnerable to lawsuits. Don’t believe us?

The 1993 case of a woman suing McDonald’s (and winning $2.86 million) after spilling hot coffee on herself is still fresh in many business owners’ minds. But it doesn’t end there. Check out Eater’s article “The Five Pettiest Lawsuits Against Fast-Food Chains” where you’ll read about Starbucks getting sued for putting ice in iced drinks and Subway being sued for 11-inch sandwiches.

That’s not to say there aren’t genuinely legitimate lawsuits. Someone slips and falls on a spill that wasn’t cleaned up, or someone gets food poisoning from food that was improperly prepared at a restaurant.

The bottom line is that every restaurant is at risk of being sued. Which is why restaurant owners must take steps to 1) prevent those lawsuits and 2) protect themselves with the right Restaurant Liability Insurance in the event of a lawsuit.

How to Prevent Lawsuits

You may not be able to prevent every lawsuit – freak accidents do happen – but there is a lot you can do to prevent most of them. Here are six tips:

  1. Train your employees well including safety and customer service
  2. Create a culture of safety
  3. Maintain consistent processes and quality in your food prep
  4. Treat all employees with respect
  5. Hire a good attorney
  6. Insure your business properly

Liability Insurance to Protect Your Restaurant

General Liability Insurance

This type of insurance, required by most landlords and lenders, covers you when a customer is injured at your restaurant, when there is damage to a customer’s property, or if there are advertising issues such as slander, libel, and copyright infringement.

When a customer is injured – such as slipping, falling, and breaking a leg on your property - general liability insurance covers legal fees, medical expenses, and any judgments imposed against your restaurant. It does not protect your employees; that’s where Workers’ Comp Insurance comes in (see below).

When a customer’s property is damaged – such as a server spilling coffee on a customer’s laptop – general liability helps pay for legal fees, replacement costs, and out-of-court settlements.

When you cause an advertising injury, general liability insurance covers copyright infringement and defamation - both libel(written) and slander(spoken).

Liquor Liability

Serving alcohol increases a restaurants liability issues, and most General Liability Insurance Policies do not cover it, so if you sell alcohol at your establishment, you need to have Liquor Liability Insurance. Pennsylvania is one of 43 states with some type of dram shop law.

According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, “Generally, dram shop laws establish the liability of establishments arising out of the sale of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors who subsequently cause death or injury to third parties (those not having a relationship to the bar) as a result of alcohol-related car crashes and other accidents.”

In other words, if you serve alcohol to someone who then injures someone else or damages someone’s property, you could be held liable. Liquor Liability Insurance helps protect your restaurant from this type of liability.

Product Liability Insurance

Food poisoning is every restaurant owner’s worse nightmare. The fact is that you can train your staff how to handle food safely and have proper processes in place to avoid food contamination, but you can’t control how the food is handled before it arrives at your restaurant. Therefore, food poisoning can still occur, and customers can still sue you for it. Product Liability Insurance helps protect your restaurant from those lawsuits.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers’ Comp is required for most businesses in Pennsylvania that have employees. It covers medical expenses, lost wages, and disability or death benefits for an employee who is injured on the job. But did you know that WC also covers legal costs if the injured employee sues you over the injury?

When reviewing your insurance needs, make sure your restaurant is protected from all potential risk – including liability.

How to Get the Best Price on Restaurant Liability Insurance

The independent agents at American Insuring Group understand the specific needs of restaurants. We will compare the cost of your coverage with several competing companies to ensure that you get the best price for that coverage. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Liquor Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance

Filling Restaurant Insurance Gaps

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 07, 2019

fill-restaurant-insurance-gaps-300Restaurant Insurance is available to protect your property, your employees, and your business. Some types of insurance are pretty standard and may even be required by law or by other entities such as lenders and landlords.

The following are standard types of insurance that most restaurant owners carry:

  • Property Insurance
covers your building and its contents if it is damaged by fire, storms, theft, etc. and is usually required by lenders.
  • Commercial general liability insurance
covers legal costs and any judgments you may be required to pay a plaintiff if you are found liable for bodily injury or damage to someone else’s property.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
covers injury to employees and is required by law for most businesses with employees.

These insurances are great for protecting many of your assets; however, you may find that there are gaps in your coverage.  Fortunately, there are other types of insurance or additional coverages available that can help fill those gaps.

You may not need any of these additional coverages, but knowledge is power. If you want to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road, it is critical that you consider potential risks, determine if they are covered under your existing policies, and decide how (or if) you need additional coverage.  

An experienced agent who specializes in restaurant insurance – like those at American Insuring Group - can help you determine the best coverage for your specific needs.

Here are Additional Coverages You May Want to Consider for Your Restaurant

Liquor Liability

If you have a liquor license, you should have liquor liability insurance to protect your restaurant if a customer becomes intoxicated and causes injury or damage.

Commercial Automobile Insurance

If you use a vehicle to transport food or people, you will need commercial automobile insurance.

Employment Practices Liability

If an employee sues your restaurant for discrimination or harassment, it may not be covered by general liability insurance.

Life Insurance

If your death (and loss of income) would cause a financial hardship for your family, you should consider either term or permanent life insurance.

Commercial Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella Insurance provides coverage above the limits of your general liability, commercial auto, or employer’s liability on a WC policy.

Sewer Backup

Sometimes a sewer backup isn’t just a stinky nuisance; it can cause real damage to your restaurant and is typically not covered under property insurance.

Utility Interruption Coverage

The loss of utilities such as electric, gas, water, etc. could shut down your restaurant or even cause damage to your restaurant.

Equipment Breakdown

Restaurants rely on their equipment – ovens, freezers, food warmers, etc. - and equipment does break down and can cause damage.

Spoilage or Food Contamination Insurance

An interruption in utilities or an equipment breakdown could result in costly food spoilage.

Extra Expense

If your property is damaged, and you want to continue operating at another location while repairs are being made, you’re going to incur expenses such as equipment or property rentals. If you want those expenses covered, you’ll probably need to purchase extra expense coverage.

Fine Arts

If you have expensive paintings or other artwork in your restaurant, you may need to protect your investment from damage or theft with fine arts coverage.

Employee Theft

A typical property insurance policy does not cover theft by employees.

Peak Season

If your restaurant sees a high level of business during certain times of the year, you may want a higher limit for personal property insurance coverage during that time.

Specific Peril Insurance

If your liability policy doesn’t cover damage from natural disasters (some do, and some don’t), you may need specific peril insurance.

Business Interruption Insurance

If your restaurant sustains damage and you need to close for an extended period, business interruption insurance can cover your loss of income while repairs are made.

You don’t want to pay more for insurance than is necessary, but at the same time, you do want to make sure that your business assets are adequately covered. This is where an independent agent who specializes in restaurant insurance can help.

Need Help Ensuring That Your Restaurant’s Assets are Properly Covered?

The independent agents at American Insuring Group can help you determine the best coverage for your restaurant. They check and compare coverage from multiple insurance companies to make sure you’re getting the best price on quality coverage. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Commercial General Liability Insurance

Food Allergies and Restaurant Liability Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 09, 2019

Food allergies can affect restaurant insurance costs.Are food allergies affecting the cost of your restaurant liability insurance? Maybe. 

If it seems as if more people suffer from food allergies, it’s because they are. According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), food allergies in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, and the number of children hospitalized due to food allergies tripled between the late 1990s and the mid-2000s. 

In the U.S., about 15 million people have food allergies, and food allergic reactions are responsible for approximately 30,000 emergency room visits and 150-200 deaths every year, according to the Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net). Over a thirteen-year period, nearly half of all fatal food allergy reactions were caused by food from restaurants or other food establishments. 

What if one of those reactions was a result of something that person ate at your restaurant? Are you liable? Again, maybe! 

So far, five states have enacted laws to make it safer for individuals with food allergies to eat at restaurants. While Pennsylvania is not one of those states, that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit, which could affect not only your restaurant's liability insurance rates but also your restaurant’s reputation. 

What is a Food Allergy?

The Mayo Clinic defines a food allergy as “an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. Even a tiny amount of the allergy-causing food can trigger signs and symptoms such as digestive problems, hives, or swollen airways. In some people, a food allergy can cause severe symptoms or even a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.”

Symptoms can begin within a few minutes or up to two hours and can include one or more of the following:

  • Hives
  • Flushed skin or rash
  • Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth
  • Face, tongue, or lip swelling
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Dizziness and/or lightheadedness
  • Swelling of the throat and vocal cords
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are more than 160 foods that can cause an allergic reaction, but eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergy reactions. Those eight major food allergens include the following:

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  4. Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
  5. Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  6. Peanuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans

What do Restaurant Employees Know About Food Allergies?

A study conducted by the EHS-Net discovered that while most restaurant managers, workers, and servers were familiar with food allergies, there were significant gaps in that knowledge. This isn’t surprising since less than fifty percent of those interviewed had received food allergy training.

For the most part, restaurant employees could recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction and knew to call 911 if a reaction occurred. 

However, one in ten were under the false assumption that someone with a food allergy could eat a small amount of an allergen without experiencing any adverse effects. The study also concluded that while most restaurants make ingredient lists available, many of them did not take other steps – such as avoiding cross food contamination – to reduce the risk of allergic reactions. 

What Your Restaurant Can Do to Ensure the Safety of Customers With Food Allergies

The EHS-Net recommends that restaurants do the following:

  • Train staff on food allergies including identifying major food allergens, how to prevent cross-contamination of allergens, and what to do if a customer has an allergic reaction
  • Have a designated person on duty at all times to handle food allergy questions and requests
  • Keep ingredient lists or recipes for menu items available for customers
  • Use dedicated areas and equipment to prep and cook meals for customers with food allergies
  • If this isn’t possible, clean prep areas and equipment before preparing meals for customers with food allergies 

If taking a few steps can help ensure the safety of your customers and help minimize the possibility of a lawsuit and the adverse effects that go with it, isn’t it worth the effort? Lowering your restaurant liability insurance is just icing on the cake.

We Specialize in Restaurant Insurance

If you want to save even more on your restaurant insurance, give one of the agents at American Insuring Group who specialize in restaurant insurance a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

3 Ways to Ensure the Lowest Price on Restaurant Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, May 26, 2019

Tips to get the best price on restaurant insuranceRestaurant Insurance can be complicated, but an insurance agent who specializes in restaurant insurance can help guide you through the process. Now, it is also essential that you understand some of the basics in order to make informed decisions.

3 Things to Consider Before Contacting an Insurance Agent

1 – What are You Insuring?

This may sound like a simple question; however, restaurant insurance covers many types of businesses including sports bars, nightclubs, pizzerias, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, upscale restaurants, delis, caterers, food trucks and more.

Each of those establishments has unique needs. For example, a bar selling alcohol may need liquor liability insurance; whereas, a fast food restaurant may not. A food truck has some unique risks that a brick-and-mortar restaurant does not.

An experienced agent will ask you many questions to determine your insurance needs. Taking some time in advance to think about what you are insuring and what your potential risks are helps you provide more accurate information, so your agent can ensure that you get the right coverage.

2 - What Types of Insurance do You Need?

Every restaurant is unique, but here are five basic types of insurance that most restaurants need:

  1. Liability Insurance
  2. Property Insurance
  3. Special Coverage Insurance
  4. Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  5. Commercial Automobile Insurance

Liability insurance
Liability insurance helps protect your business if someone – a customer, a vendor, etc. - sues you for bodily injury or property damage. This insurance covers legal fees and legal payouts when needed. In addition to general liability insurance, which is recommended for most businesses, there is also liability insurance that applies to specific needs such as liquor liability and product liability. 

Property insurance
Property insurance helps protect the things you own such as buildings, restaurant equipment, and even the food in your freezers. Property Insurance typically covers damage caused by fire, smoke, wind, hail, lightning, theft and more. If you rent a space or have a mortgage on the property, property insurance is usually required by the lender or the property owner.

Special Coverage Insurance
Special Coverage Insurance helps protect items that are special or unique. Specialty Insurance may cover lost income if your restaurant is forced to shut down, equipment breakdowns, employee theft, forgery, and more.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ Compensation (WC) helps protect both you and your employees if they are injured on the job. It covers the injured employee’s medical expenses and lost wages, and it helps protect the restaurant if the employee sues the restaurant. WC is mandated by the government for most restaurants with employees.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance
Commercial Vehicle Insurance helps protect vehicles – trucks, vans, automobiles - owned, leased, or rented by your restaurant. This includes food trucks, vehicles used to deliver food, etc. Typical coverage under commercial vehicle insurance includes bodily injury and property damage liability, personal injury protection, and physical damage to your vehicle. 

3 - What Affects the Cost of Your Insurance Premiums?

Many factors go into determining the cost of your insurance premiums, and different insurance companies place emphasis on different factors, which is why using an independent insurance agency like American Insuring Group is always the best way to go. We check the cost of your insurance with several different companies.

Here are a few factors insurance companies use to determine the cost of your insurance premiums:

  • Type of property
  • Loss history
  • Years in business
  • Type of activities (ID checkers, delivery, alcohol service, entertainment, etc.)
  • Hours of operation
  • Size (property size, payroll, sales, etc.)

Get the Best Price on the Right Insurance for Your Restaurant

American Insuring Group specializes in restaurant insurance. We have relationships with several insurance companies, so we can compare prices to ensure that your business is protected at the lowest price. Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Is Your Restaurant Sign Insured?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 28, 2019

Insurance for Commercial Signs Including RestaurantsHave you checked your restaurant insurance policy to see if your signage is covered?

What is one of the things almost every restaurant needs to attract new customers – besides great food and friendly service? The answer: a sign! You need to let people know where you are so that they can find you. Signage can even help someone discover your existence when driving by.

But what happens if that sign is damaged? What if a truck knocks it over, it gets vandalized, or it’s struck by lightning? You will need to repair or replace the sign if you want to continue attracting customers. Will your insurance cover the cost of repairing or replacing that sign? The answer: maybe.

You have a lot of things on your plate as a restaurant owner – menus, pricing, advertising, and the list goes on – so it’s easy to forget about some of the seemingly small things. An experienced insurance agent – one who specializes in restaurant insurance – can help make sure you don’t miss any of those “small” things!

Covered or Not?

Getting back to our question and the resulting ambiguous answer – “maybe.” You need to know the definitive answer to that question – “Will your insurance cover the cost of repairing or replacing that sign?” - BEFORE something happens to it.

Each policy is different, and rules can vary from state to state, but generally speaking, if your sign is permanently attached to a building that you own, you can add the value of the sign to the building coverage on your Business Owner’s Policy (BOP).

However, a large number of restaurant owners lease the building for their restaurant rather than own the building. Those business owners need to look at other options.

Tenant’s Betterment and Improvements Insurance

The International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) defines tenant’s betterment and improvements as “permanent additions or changes made to a building by a lessee at his or her own expense that may not legally be removed.” This includes additions or modifications the lessee makes that increase the value of the structure such as upgraded cabling for computers or TVs, lighting fixtures, wall-to-wall carpeting, and signs that are attached to the building.

If these improvements were to be damaged or destroyed and are no longer useable, it would be detrimental to your restaurant.

There is insurance available to cover betterments and improvements. Sometimes the property owner will add it to their commercial property insurance; however, they can also ask that it is excluded from their policy. Therefore, it’s vital that you carefully review your lease to determine who is responsible for covering any damage to the improvements you make.

You may find an insurance company that wants to add your improvements and betterments coverage to your contents coverage. Keep in mind the rate for building coverage is usually lower than it is for content coverage and often broader in the scope of what is covered. 

Insurance for Freestanding Signs 

What if you have a sign for your restaurant that is not attached to the building? In that case, you will need specific protection added to your BOP to cover any damage to the sign. And if you have more than one free-standing sign, each one needs to be listed on your policy along with a specific limit of coverage for each.

We’ll Make Sure You’re Covered for the Big and Little Things!

Sometimes it’s the “little” things that end up costing your restaurant a lot of money. As restaurant insurance specialists, American Insuring Group’s independent agents can make sure you don’t miss any of the “little” things, not to mention the big things as well! We’ll help you get great coverage at a surprisingly affordable rate.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Sign Insurance

How to Prevent Fires in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 24, 2019
Follow these tips to prevent restaurant firesOpen flames, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals, and paper products are the perfect ingredients for a fire, and all are found in most restaurants. So, it’s no surprise that fire companies respond to more than 8,000 structure fires at restaurants and bars each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

A fire in your restaurant can cause lost revenues, injuries, death, higher restaurant insurance premiums, lawsuits, and even the end of your business, which is why it’s essential that you and your staff understand fire risks and do everything possible to prevent fires.

The right insurance can help pay for damages caused by a fire, but preventing fires should always be your first line of defense.

The Main Fire Risks in Restaurants

Cooking

It’s no surprise that cooking is the leading cause of restaurant fires, accounting for 64 percent of all restaurant fires according to the US Fire Administration (USFA). When flames get into the kitchen’s ductwork, exhaust systems, vents, and fans – all of which are prone to grease buildup – fire can quickly spread.

Heating and Electrical Malfunction

The deadliest restaurant fire in US history was at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Nevada in 1980. A result of an electrical ground fault, the fire killed 85 people. According to the USFA, seven percent of all restaurant fires are caused by heating and electrical malfunctions.

Unsafe wiring, switches, plugs, or sockets projecting heat onto a flammable or combustible material cause these fires. Often, outdated wiring is not able to handle the voltage used by today’s appliances. Commercial kitchen equipment is certified by NSF International; however, most smaller equipment purchased at retail stores is not certified and can be a hazard when used in commercial kitchens.

Gas leaks and the resulting explosions are often the most devastating fires. Thankfully, this type of occurrence is uncommon but can occur when older or neglected equipment isn’t able to support the flow of gas. Gas is released into the air and can be ignited by turning on an electrical device or lighting a match.

Other Fire Risks

Other causes of restaurant fires include unintentional, careless actions (4 percent), appliances (4 percent), other heat (3 percent), and several other categories, according to the USFA reports.

4 Restaurant Fire Prevention Tips


1 - Employee Training

  • Your workers should be trained in fire prevention methods and the importance of proper cleaning.
  • Workers should know not to use water to try to put out a grease fire because it can cause the grease to splatter and spread the fire.
  • Employees should be trained on how to use a fire extinguisher. The National Restaurant Association suggests using the acronym PAST – pull out the Pin, Aim at the base, make a Sweeping motion, and be Ten feet away.
  • Employees should know how to properly store flammable liquids – kept in original containers or puncture-resistant tightly sealed containers stored in well-ventilated areas.

2 - Regular Maintenance

  • Fire-suppression systems should be professionally inspected twice a year.
  • The pressure gauge on portable fire extinguishers should be checked monthly to be sure that the extinguisher is holding pressure and inspected and certified annually.
  • Electrical equipment should have regular maintenance and regularly checked for frayed cords and cracked or broken switch plates.
  • Exhaust systems should be inspected for grease buildup. In high-volume operations, the NFPA requires quarterly inspections and semi-annual inspections for moderate-volume operations.

3 - Installation of an Automatic Fire-Suppression System

Fire-suppression systems, which are built into stoves or oven hoods, have sensors that can detect a fire and automatically release a chemical to put out a fire and shut down the fuel or electric supply to cooking equipment. Installing a fire suppression system can sometimes lower your insurance premiums.

4 - Portable Fire Extinguishers

You should also keep portable fire extinguishers handy as a backup. Class K extinguishers are used for kitchen fires that involve grease, fats, and oils that burn at a high temperature. Class ABC extinguishers can be used on all other fires such as paper, wood, electrical, etc.

Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Understanding fire risks in your restaurant and taking steps to prevent them will help keep your employees, your customers, and your business safe.

Get the Right Insurance for Your Restaurant, Bar or Nightclub

Contact us for the best PA restaurant insurance in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Berks County and elsewhere!If these measures fail, having the right insurance can help repair the damage.

But don’t overpay for restaurant insurance. Give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. We’ll search competing insurance companies to find affordable restaurant insurance that will properly protect your business.

Don’t delay – call the experts at American Insuring Group today!

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs