As published in Insurance Journal
Holiday season means greater risks for small businesses as they prepare for a boost in sales, especially on Small Business Saturday. This is especially true when combined with some of the changes businesses have implemented to deliver products and services during the pandemic, including increased online sales, more deliveries, and more curbside pickups.
With this in mind, small business owners would be wise to talk to their insurance agents, who often can help mitigate those risks. The following are five areas of increased risk where agents can help customers learn more about the importance of proactive risk management and proper insurance coverage.
1. Seasonal employees
Many businesses add staff during the holiday shopping season. While very helpful, this also can increase risk for small businesses in particular, as they hire new or inexperienced employees. Background checks are an important part of keeping small businesses protected, and they should not be skipped for the sake of time or because an employee will only be on staff for a short period. Some insurance programs offer discounts on background checks as a service to their customers. Reminding customers of this valuable option can make a real difference in hiring the right employees.
2. Third-party services
Small businesses are using more third-party contractors and vendors now than ever before, often leveraging them for things like deliveries, cleaning and snow removal. Small businesses should ensure they have the proper contractual risk transfer agreements in place anytime a contractor is on site to provide a service or is working on behalf of the business. Some insurance programs offer risk management professionals, who can provide guidance about these agreements.
3. Slips and falls
Slip and fall accidents – and the litigation that can accompany them – are some of the most common and largely preventable risks, especially for retailers. With people distracted by the hustle and bustle of the season, and with an increase in foot traffic and curbside pickups, there typically is an uptick in injuries. Small businesses can prepare with on-site logistics, such as proper signage inside and out, proper maintenance throughout the premises, and leveraging resources offered by their insurance programs.
Just as foot traffic picks up at the holidays, so do digital transactions, and the risk of cyber security incidents. As many businesses know, online shopping has dramatically increased in the past year, and this trend is likely to continue. According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses, yet, only 14% of those businesses have the necessary security measures in place. On the bright side, some insurance programs offer expert assistance to help with cyber risk management services focused on data breach preparation and remediation. Agents can help their customers understand their options and ways to help reduce this risk through a combination of risk management efforts and coverage choices.
Increased sales and more foot traffic can also mean an increased risk of theft. Day-to-day inventory and customer activity management often fall to the wayside during the busy holiday season. Small businesses that may be lucky enough to regularly have lower theft rates may not be aware of the theft mitigation tactics and tips offered by insurance programs. There are oftentimes training modules that can be leveraged through small businesses’ insurance programs to help raise awareness for this heightened risk during the holiday season.
Help small business customers assess their risk management protocols and their coverage options well in advance, helping to prepare them for a successful holiday season and the new year ahead.
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About the author
Annmarie Condon is The Hanover's vice president of small commercial underwriting where she leads renewal teams countrywide, overseeing both underwriting and portfolio management. With more than 30 years of property and casualty experience, she has extensive experience leading high performing middle market and small commercial field teams and is passionate about helping agency partners mitigate risk within their books of business.