The holiday season is officially here, which means businesses are gearing up to celebrate the past year and welcome the new one. While many will be planning holiday parties and perhaps some much-needed time off, there should also be a focus on risk prevention for your business. The holidays bring increased risks and insurance claims. With the chaos of the season, it can be easy to overlook your coverage, but focusing on risk prevention ahead of time can help you avoid a loss. Consider these prevention tips for common holiday claims and keeping your business thriving through the end of the year.
Limit Your Holiday Decorations
Decorating your office or building is a fun way to spread the holiday cheer, but decorations can also present a whole new set of risks. Real trees, lights, and candles can all increase the risk of fire in your commercial space. In addition, the process of hanging up decorations can lead to injury if ladders or large equipment are used. If possible, opt for an artificial tree and avoid high-hanging decorations. If your office is closing for the holidays, ensure that all lights are unplugged and any flammable objects, including real trees, are moved far away from heaters and electrical equipment. According to the NFPA, 45% of home Christmas tree fires involved electrical or lighting equipment. Some other tips to consider to avoid decoration-related accidents include:
- Make sure all electrical cords are in good condition with no breaks
- Use outdoor approved extension cords for all outdoor lighting
- Avoid using real candles during holiday office parties
- Do not connect more than three holiday light strings together
- Exercise precaution while hanging outdoor and indoor lights
Limit Access to Company Buildings and Property
Theft is one of the most significant risks during the holiday season. Thieves target this time of year due to the increase in inventory for retail businesses and the higher chance of gifts being stored within office buildings. Additionally, between Christmas and New Year’s, there are typically fewer people in the office, if any. Thieves want the least amount of resistance possible, so an empty office is a big opportunity for theft. Whether you're closing your business down, or keeping it open, having a security plan in place is key. If your office is closing 100%, remove access to the building until it officially re-opens. It’s also recommended not to officially announce your office will be closed. For most, the office will need some access, but limit access to your building to only those who absolutely need it and consider implementing increased security systems. Cameras, alarms, and security detail if necessary, can help prevent theft, or provide footage of the event if it does occur.
Require Employees to Use a Secure Network
It’s common to work from home nowadays, but even those who usually work in the office may take advantage of work-from-home policies over the holidays. This is a great benefit for employees but may introduce new security risks for those who are not accustomed to the standard policies of remote work. Cybercrime increases dramatically over the holiday season, and a single claim can cause financial stress on both large and small businesses. If your employees are planning to work from home specifically for the holidays, ensure they have a secure Wi-Fi network and are not using public Wi-Fi. Coffee shops and shared working spaces may be a preferred environment for some, but the security risks of using public Wi-Fi far outweigh the benefits. Public Wi-Fi increases the risk of malware, session hijacking, fake system alerts, and login-credential vulnerability. Hackers can access file sharing and get confidential data easier on a public network. Putting a work-from-home policy in place and thoroughly training all employees on the standard procedures can help you manage your cyber risks over the holiday season.
Coordinate Holiday Party Logistics Ahead of Time
Holiday parties are a great way to connect with co-workers and enjoy end-of-year celebrations. However, without the right planning, it could end in a serious insurance claim for business owners. There is a lot to take into consideration to manage your risks for an offsite party. If you’re planning to serve alcohol, make sure your general liability policy covers liquor liability. If it doesn’t, you will need to purchase a separate policy for the event. You will also want to coordinate transportation to and from the event to avoid any driving after alcohol consumption. There are many examples of driving accidents being connected to holiday party drinking, thus holding the employer responsible for damages. If you’re planning to have the party at an employee’s home, they will need to ensure hosting insurance is included in their general liability coverage. There’s also a risk of an employment practices claim if any employees experience discrimination, sexual harassment, or emotional distress.
Prioritize Workplace Violence Protection
The holidays are a cheerful and joyous time but are equally stressful for many. Especially for businesses that deal with customer service, healthcare, and retail, it can be a tense and challenging time for your employees. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2019 there were 454 workplace homicides and close to 42,000 nonfatal workplace assaults. Many of these incidents happen over the holidays. While there aren't sure ways to avoid workplace violence one hundred percent of the time, your business can minimize violence and prioritize well-being for your employees by:
- Ensuring proper staffing so employees are not overworked
- Identifying high-risk positions
- Training employees on violence de-escalation, identification, and reporting
- A confidential reporting policy, with no penalty for reporting suspected violence
- Regular evaluation of employees and their demeanor
- Ensure hiring process includes thorough background call
Update Your Coverage for the Holiday Season with ECBM
With the right preventive measures, the holiday season can be smooth for your business. While these tips can help you avoid certain risks that come with the time of year, a risk still exists. Updating your coverage to ensure your business is protected in all liabilities will is key. Whether you need new coverage for an upcoming event or need a thorough evaluation of your current program, ECBM can help. For more information on how we can help protect your business over the holidays, contact one of our agents.