Risky Business?

— By Christine Cunning, CIC —


Considerations for restaurants converting to delivery during coronavirus.


These are incredibly challenging times for individuals and small businesses across the country. Few industries have been hit as hard as the restaurant industry. Often working on short margins in the best of times, the industry encounters numerous roadblocks ranging from weather, a sometimes fickle and impatient clientele and stiff competition. These challenges can all also be viewed as opportunities to outperform and shine. The developments caused by this recent state of pandemic has been industry shaking, however; some have come out with a herculean response in keeping their kitchens active and  shifting their business model to provide takeout and/or delivery to stay afloat, and to provide an important service to the communities they serve.

Christine Cunning, SG&D Agencies

The changes brought about by the recent atmosphere each bring with them various implications, but if analyzed and addressed properly, should prove to help these establishments to survive through to the other side. Serving alcohol is generally a boon in the industry as it is a low preparation, high markup item. The loss of that income is heavy but owners should consult with their insurance agent to determine if the reduced liability from serving liquor can amend their premium during the closed period.

The decision to move to delivery services should be well thought out. Delivery services are not without their share of risk factors, particularly when it comes to driver safety.

It is important to review your insurance coverage with a qualified insurance professional to ensure that there are no gaps in your coverage. You will want to verify that your insurance coverage is designed to accommodate for deliveries made in employees’ — or restaurant owners’ — personal automobiles. An insurance professional may include commercial auto insurance or non-owned automobile liability coverage depending on your operations. Your restaurant policy will need auto coverage to extend to employees’ vehicles.

Experts advise that business owners protect their workers by identifying hazards and offering strategies to stay safe while making deliveries. Business owners should work with employees to craft and communicate policies around making deliveries by supplementing workplace procedures with proper training to ensure employee safety on the road.

Owners could offer training to employees on identifying potential hazards and strategies they can use to stay safe while making deliveries. Discuss potential situations and provide education on what to do in the event of a robbery situation. Drivers should have cell phones on them during deliveries so that they can contact the restaurant or alert the authorities in the event of an emergency situation. If they do not have wireless technology they should pull off the road and park the vehicle before making a call or checking a text message.

You should review the motor vehicle records of any employee who operates a company-owned or personal vehicle for business purposes. Delivery drivers must be qualified with a valid driver’s license and an acceptable driving record.

If it is possible, you should spread deliveries out across multiple drivers to avoid overwhelming your employees. For added safety, refrain from making guaranteed delivery times which will keep them safer by discouraging speeding or driving recklessly to deliver on time. Rushing deliveries can increase the chances of an accident. Also limit deliveries to day and early evening hours. Late night deliveries may create a situation where employees are more vulnerable to crime. GPS systems and in-car surveillance cameras can monitor drivers and locate them quickly in the event of an incident.

Use caller ID to screen deliveries which will help you trace the location of the customers, and it can also help you maintain delivery records.

During a pandemic the utmost care must be taken with hygienic response. If possible take payments through an online ordering system or prepaid by phone using debit or credit cards, to alleviate contact point required by cash payments. This helps with social distancing and limited contact for your customers and employees as deliveries can be left at the door.

You may weigh all of your options and determine that it might be more cost-effective to utilize a food delivery service such as Grubhub or consider having your takeout business be conducted through curbside pickup.

Restaurant insurance is a complicated topic, and every risk is different, so it is important to consult with a trusted advisor. Every restaurant owner faces unique challenges and needs. If your goal is to save money on your insurance, have a conversation with your agent. You may be able to modify your premiums to better align with your current budget and business model. Choose an agency that specializes in your industry, and you should ask an agent how many restaurants they do work with to ensure you are getting the best expert advice available.




— Christine Cunning, CIC is a principal at SG&D Agencies, a family-run insurance agency that has served customers for nearly 100 years. For more information, visit https://sgdins.com.


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