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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

Do You Need Restaurant Liability Insurance Coverage?

Posted by David Ross on Thu, Dec 29, 2016

Things to consider when purchasing Restaurant Liability Insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, York, Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.Imagine… One of your servers loses his grip on a hot cup of coffee and it lands on a patron’s lap. Or a woman slips on a wet spot in your restroom and breaks her ankle in two places.

As a restaurant owner, you’re probably already aware how quickly an accident can happen in your establishment. So it’s incumbent upon you to be prepared for the lawsuits and expenses that often accompany these type of mishaps. Without adequate restaurant insurance protection, your business assets could be seized to pay any claims for which you’re found liable. 

Even when the court does not rule in the patron’s favor, your restaurant will still be responsible for court costs and your attorney's fees to defend the case.

 

Getting the right insurance protection

Without the proper insurance coverage, incidents like these could bankrupt, or at least derail, your small business. Liability insurance safeguards your business from claims from others, including lawsuits. This insurance starts with a General Liability (GL) policy, but there are also plans to meet a restaurant’s specific needs. These include:

  • Liquor Liability if your business serves alcohol
  • Excess Liability to increase the liability limits on your policy
  • Assault and Battery Liability if a fight breaks out and there are injuries
  • Cyber Liability to address data breaches

Who needs this insurance?

Restaurant liability insurance is appropriate for a variety of hospitality businesses including:

  • Full-service restaurants
  • Fast-food restaurants
  • Bars and taverns
  • Sports bars
  • Night clubs
  • Delis
  • Pizzerias
  • Food trucks
  • Caterers

This list is not comprehensive, but it gives you an idea of the types of establishments that incur the risks associated with serving food and drinks to customers and clients.

What does general liability insurance cover?

Liability policies will usually include the following:

  • Financial awards to the plaintiff if you lose your case
  • Attorney’s fees for defending your business in court
  • Future medical payments for an injured party
  • Settlement costs if it makes sense to settle out of court

If a patron’s injury or illness results in death, your GL policy will cover the medical expenses, funeral expenses, and any court-awarded compensation. Just remember, when your employees are injured or become sick while working for you, they are not covered under your GL but by your Worker’s Compensation insurance.

Property damage claims coverage may be included

Keep in mind that your policy may also protect your food service business from liability due to injuries or property damages that happen at other locations. Think about a business that caters an event at which a food warmer malfunctions and the resulting fire causes property damage at the venue. Your policy would handle the costs and any lawsuits.

And don’t forget personal and advertising injury claims

When your restaurant uses advertising or any promotional literature, you need to take into consideration that you may be infringing on another restaurant’s brands or copyrights. A general liability policy that covers you if you copy the promotional literature of another business would make sense. It protects you from accusations that your advertising slandered or libeled another company or person and caused non-physical damage.

 

Be Prepared - Contact Us for All Your Restaurant Insurance Needs

Contact us for Restaurant Liability InsuranceNo matter how well prepared you think you are, your food service business is not immune to accidents. A Restaurant General Liability policy is a must to protect you against the unpredictability of mishaps, oversights, and lawsuits.

When shopping for coverage, contact American Insuring Group online or call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 for help in finding the right policy to fit your restaurant business needs.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Philadelphia PA, Restaurant Insurance Allentown PA, Restuarant Insurance Harrisburg PA, Restaurant Insurance Lancaster PA, Restaurant Insurance Reading PA, Restaurant Liability Insurance