By Katelyn Betts
If you have an auto repair shop or an auto body shop, you’re in the line of fire of plenty of risks every day. Sure, your auto repair shop insurance can help you out of a tight spot if you have a general liability claim, but it’s probably a better idea to just avoid that claim in the first place. We’ve got 5 tips to help you avoid general liability insurance claims. And, you know, lawsuits. Because lawsuits are no fun.
What is general liability insurance?
First of all, let’s take a quick minute to go over what exactly general liability insurance is and what it does.
General liability insurance will protect your business against claims that you caused someone property damage or bodily injury. It will cover your legal obligation to the injured person, and it will also help you cover your legal expenses if they decide to sue. This coverage is essential for auto body shops and auto repair shops. Lawsuits can get extremely expensive.
To illustrate, let’s say that one of your customers is coming to pick up their car after you repaired it. They’re crossing the parking lot when they accidentally trip over a crack in the asphalt. They fall hard and break their arm, so they end up with some major medical expenses. On top of that, they choose to sue you over the accident. General liability insurance helps you cover your obligation to the injured customer and your legal expenses.
Now that we’ve explained how your general liability insurance protects your business, let’s go over some strategies for preventing general liability claims.
5 tips to avoid general liability claims for auto repair shops.
Keep customers away from the garage area.
There are lots of dangerous things and potential hazards in your garage. You and your employees are trained to be in this space, and you’re accustomed to the risks that a garage presents. But an unsuspecting client who doesn’t spend all day around cars and auto shop equipment could accidentally get themselves into trouble if they’re allowed to go into the shop. Slip hazards, falling things, chemical fumes, sharp objects…yikes.
What we’re saying is that it’s best to keep your customers away from the shop.
Have a waiting area.
Since your customers can’t go back into the garage area, make sure to have a comfortable waiting area for them. That way they can stay safely out of the way of the dangers that the shop itself presents. There should be a place that’s apart from your shop where you can greet, speak with, and go over things with your customers.
Mark employee-only areas with signs.
Your customers won’t know where they’re not supposed to go unless you tell them, right? Make sure you clearly mark any off-limits areas with “Employees Only” signs that warn customers of the potential dangers that exist behind the extremely intriguing closed doors. That way you’ll (hopefully) keep everyone where they’re supposed to be when they visit your auto repair shop.
Keep your waiting area and parking lot free of trip hazards.
It’s important to reduce the chance of a trip-and-fall situation happening at your business. Make sure you maintain your parking lot and sidewalks so that there aren’t any uneven surfaces that someone could trip on. The same goes for your waiting area – make sure that your flooring surface (whether it’s tile or carpet) is even and free from uneven patches that could catch someone’s toe and send them flying. Also, make sure your staff knows to clean up any spills promptly and take care of trip hazards.
Also, if you live in a cold climate where it gets snowy and icy in the winter, make sure you have a plan for clearing your parking lot and walkways to make sure that they’re safe for people to walk on.
Take extreme care if you need to take a client into the garage.
We’ve already mentioned that the best plan is to avoid taking customers back to your garage because of all the dangers. It’s better to just discuss repairs away from the shop (your auto repair shop insurance will thank you.)
But, if you absolutely must take your customer into the garage to complete the job, keep the following tips in mind:
Make sure the shop floor is clear with an uncluttered walking path.
Check to make sure there are no spills, sharp things, trip hazards, and so on.
Check the frame straightening machines and hydraulic hoses for signs of wear so they don’t snap.
Make sure the shop is properly ventilated and free from harmful fumes.