Your commercial insurance protects you against liability, and icy sidewalks can be one of your biggest liabilities. Here's what you need to know about snow shoveling during the winter months and making sure your commercial liability insurance protects you.
Check Local Laws
In most areas where it snows, local laws will tell you when you have to shovel snow. Business owners are almost always responsible for shoveling the sidewalks in front of their businesses even when it's a public sidewalk installed by the government. There's typically a certain time of day that you have to clear your sidewalk by or you may have a certain number of hours after it snowed instead.
If you don't shovel by the deadline, you may face a fine, get charged for having a city worker clear your sidewalk, or get sued if someone slips on ice on your sidewalk.
Local Laws May Not Be All You Have to Do
All property owners have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep people from getting hurt on their property. Laws on when you have to shovel snow can help decide what's reasonable, but they're not the only thing you have to consider.
For example, you may have to clear the main sidewalk but not the path to your side door. However, if a delivery driver slips on ice while trying to walk up to your front door to deliver your package, they could sue you for their injuries. To keep this from happening, clear everywhere where someone may walk.
Hiring Someone Helps But Doesn't Do Everything
If you don't want to shovel snow yourself, you can hire someone else to take care of it for you. This can be a good way to make sure your walkways are cleared in a reasonable period of time and cover your responsibility to keep people safe.
However, there is a risk that they don't show up. If they don't, it's the same as if you didn't shovel yourself. Remember, as the property owner, you have to make sure your walkways are shoveled no matter how you get it done.
Keep in mind that your commercial insurance will cover many slip and fall claims, but exclusions may apply. One of the biggest reasons you might have a claim denied is if you completely ignored your responsibility to maintain your sidewalks in a safe condition. To learn more about what you need to do to make sure you'd be covered, talk to a local commercial insurance provider today.