JUNE 2014

Knowing and Managing the Risks to Your Post When
Open to the Public

 

No matter the age or condition of your building, there are potentially dangerous conditions lurking, waiting to cause misfortune. Accidents involving your members, guests, employees, or anyone else who visits the Post happen with little warning in the course of the simplest of acts, such as walking, climbing stairs or taking out the trash.

 

Most of these incidents are caused by slips, trips and falls, the most common types of accidents that happen at businesses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They’re also the most frequently reported causes of injury, accounting for roughly 25% of insurance claims reported every year.

 

We know you don’t ever want your patrons to be injured due to an accident at your Post - and neither do we. So we’ve created a helpful online presentation that highlights many of the risks that are a liability in and around your Post, and the safety measures you should take to prevent those liabilities from causing accidents.

 

The presentation is titled Liability & Preventing Accidents at Your Post and it’s available free on our website. By taking the course, you’ll learn about the following important topics:

 

1. Understanding the liabilities that are associated with operating your Post, including:

 

Hazards inside the building:

– Liquid spills

– Chairs and stools

– Lighting

– Floors and walkways

– Staircases

– Fire hazards

 

Hazards outside the building:

– Parking lots and walkways

– Winter weather obstacles

– Lighting

– Wheelchair access

 

2. Understanding unique types of risks you’re vulnerable to when:

– Hosting events

– Renting your facilities to others

– Using volunteers

– Hiring subcontractors to do work at the Post

 

3. Recognizing the hazards and risk factors specific to work done by your employees

 

 

The course offers practical and easy-to-implement advice on how you can (and should) manage all of these risks to prevent accidents and injuries.

 

While the course was created primarily for the Post leadership, there is no restriction on who can or should take the course. In fact, we recommend that all employees and key/regular volunteers view the presentation. We also advise that the learnings from the course be discussed and shared within your team to build a safety and risk management plan that’s specific to the operations at your Post.

 

Bonus: At the end of the online presentation (which takes about 20 minutes to watch) we offer a quick 10-question quiz that allows you to review what you’ve learned and recaps some of the most important takeaways. To recognize each person who takes the course and passes the quiz, we will send the Post a certificate of completion in the name of the course-taker. This is a great way to demonstrate your Post’s commitment to safety and makes for a nice enhancement to your risk management plan.

 

When it comes to safety at your Post, the size and/or depth of its operations are irrelevant to the role safety must play. Running a safe operation is something that must be top priority whether you have 20 members or a thousand. This free online liability course helps you reduce liabilities and put safety first.

 

Wait no longer. Begin the Liability & Preventing Accidents at Your Post course now.

 

If you have questions about this free web training, whether before or after you take it, please call our customer service team at (800) 829-8390.

12 Guidelines for Smart Accident Handling

 

Despite your best efforts to eliminate or reduce the hazards and risks in and around your Post that could cause an accident, accidents do still happen. If a mishap does occur, the best thing you can be is prepared so that you and your staff can manage the accident as efficiently as possible.

 

An important part of claim management is being mindful that a lawsuit can potentially be brought against the Post when someone is injured. This means that the information-gathering period is critical. By recording the incident immediately, you’re better ensuring that the information relevant to the incident is complete and accurate.

 

What you may not realize is that there are right and wrong ways of handling an accident, especially those that involve injury to someone. The following 12 steps should be followed when an incident occurs at the Post and someone—a member, guest or other visitor—suffers an injury.

 

In the case where an employee is injured, your Workers’ Compensation insurance claims adjuster will advise you on the proper course of action. Call your insurance agent immediately if an accident occurs involving an employee.

 

 

Step 1: Identify a point-person at the Post

 

Within the Post, a point-person should be identified as the one to call if and when an injury accident occurs. This is likely the Post Quartermaster or other board member. For most incidents, this contact person will be responsible for communicating with and assisting the injured party. He or she will also ensure the proper documentation is completed.

 

Step 2: Never admit liability

 

As difficult as it may be at the time of the accident, it is vital that all representatives of the Post (including the contact person and employees working at the time) do not verbally indicate that the Post is liable, and don’t make any commitments to the injured party, such as paying medical bills or other expenses. It is best to just let the injured person know that the Post has appropriate insurance in place. (Be sure your Post does have proper Liability Insurance. Our program is a great solution for all Posts.) Details of the insurance coverage should not, however, be discussed with the injured person or his/her family.

 

Step 3: Provide immediate medical attention

 

Give appropriate help, including first aid, to someone who is injured. Call 911 if necessary. Do not attempt to move an injured person unless there is an immediate danger such as a fire. Even if the person in the accident says he/she feels fine, encourage them to seek medical treatment to ensure there is no injury that may cause future medical problems.

 

Step 4: Notify the police or sheriff’s department

 

If the situation warrants it, have someone call the appropriate law enforcement authority.

 

Step 5: Get the facts

 

The contact person should be responsible for coordinating and completing documentation about the incident. This documentation is necessary to support subsequent disputes or claims about the incident. The information should be carefully reviewed by the appropriate staff or committee at the Post, and should serve as a useful tool for preventing similar incidents from happening in the future.

The following reports and information should be collected:

 

5a.Incident report - An incident report is a way to collect a thorough description of an incident or accident. Information on the form includes date, location, time and details of how the accident occurred. The form can include information about the injured person, if applicable, and if there was any property damage as a result of the incident. Make note of all contributing factors such as the weather conditions, physical obstructions, and the type of shoes worn by the injured person. You can’t be too thorough when completing an incident report and no detail is too small.

 

Make a copy of the report and provide a copy to your insurance agent.

 

The VFW Post Insurance Program provides an Incident Reporting Form—download the Incident Reporting Form now.

 

5b. Take photographs of the scene – Using a phone, camera or camcorder, photograph the scene of the accident, including the space, any equipment involved and anything else that documents the conditions at the time the accident occurred. Make note of the date, time and name of the person taking the photos. If you run surveillance at your location, keep any recordings that may have captured the event.

Provide copies of photographs to your insurance agent.

 

5c. Witness accounts – The assessment of the incident by others is important to the claim. It’s important to find out what witnesses did and didn’t see, and make a written record of those testimonies. Write down the names, addresses, and all contact information for anyone who was present at the time of the accident. Even if a person states they did not see what happened, make note of that. This information can be notated on a specific witness report form or freehand. Again, make a copy of the information and give it to your insurance agent.

 

5d. Tag and secure equipment – If any equipment or machinery was involved in the accident, identify and tag it as such. Move the equipment to a protected place until you’re contacted by the insurance adjuster.

 

Step 6: Report incident immediately to your insurance agent/company

 

Don’t hold back on the reporting of an accident or loss because you think the incident isn’t going to be covered by insurance or you believe it is too trivial to report. Likewise, don’t delay reporting an incident because you’re waiting for repair estimates, doctor opinions or police reports, either. A delay in reporting an incident could jeopardize any insurance coverage you have in place.

 

Step 7: Keep in contact with an injured person and his/her family

 

Your designated contact person is usually the person responsible for staying in touch with the injured person and his or her family. Regular communication—checking in on how he or she is doing—promotes a positive relationship between the Post and the injured party and helps to minimize any blame or retribution the injured person (or their family) may decide to invoke.  Taking initiative can help maintain good relations, minimize media issues, minimize costs and retain good employees and volunteers. But above all, it says that your Post cares about the injured person’s recovery and it’s important that he or she knows it.

 

Step 8: Be aware of the need for public relations

 

In some cases, the media may wish to report on the incident. The Post should have a designated spokesperson responsible for handling PR communications.

 

Step 9: Notify your insurance agent if a you receive notice of a lawsuit against the Post

 

If a lawsuit if filed by the injured person, report it to your insurance agent right away.

 

Step 10: Retain copies of documents

 

As stated in step 5, keep copies of all documents, forms, photos, and conversations related to the incident. Copies should be given to your insurance agent where they are to be maintained for at least five years to ensure they are held beyond state statutes of limitations.

 

Step 11: Do not share incident reports or related documents

 

Do not give any accident-related reports to the injured party or their representatives. The injured party is not entitled to these reports. They are the property of the Post, to be shared only with the insurance agent/company.

 

Step 12: Do not discuss the claim with anyone

 

Similar to step 11, do not discuss a claim with anyone except for your insurance representatives.

Following these steps when an incident occurs at your Post should go a long way toward resolving the situation as satisfactorily as possible for everyone involved.

4 Tips to Help Your Post Serve Responsibly

 

Over the last three decades, the number of drunk driving-related fatalities recorded in the U.S. has decreased significantly—down 51%, in fact—from over 21,000 deaths recorded in 1982, to just over 10,300 in 20121.

 

This decline in alcohol-related car crash deaths is evidence that our society has made progress in taking the issue of drunk driving seriously. Still, even one death is too many and traffic fatalities resulting from drunk driving can be prevented!

 

If your Post serves alcohol—whether for sale or not—you can play a role in preventing alcohol-related accidents. In fact, being proactive in your Post’s efforts to prevent alcohol-related incidents should be a very important part of your business plan.

 

Here are four basic—yet crucial—strategies  that you and all of your servers should always follow:

 

1. Never allow a visibly intoxicated person to leave your premises and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Always ensure a designated/sober driver is available and, if not, call for a cab.

 

2. Know your patrons and their alcohol limits. Never be afraid to limit a drinker’s intake and/or cut him or her off completely.

 

3. Be smart when allowing your Post premises to be used for events where alcohol may be served. Never host an event where alcohol consumption is encouraged. Alcohol service should always be monitored and provided by non-drinkers. Finally, never allow underage drinking at your establishment.

 

4. Train your alcohol servers. The VFW Post Insurance Program offers an online server training course to our customers. Other training is available on the market as well. Make training an essential part of your safety program!

 

 

Liquor Liability Insurance

 

If you serve alcohol in your Post, you need to have a Liquor Liability Insurance policy. Liquor Liability Insurance is not just a recommendation: Posts that serve alcohol are required by the VFW Bylaws to carry Liquor Liability Insurance.

 

The bylaw, passed in 2002, requires Posts operating facilities that serve alcohol to maintain adequate

liability insurance, including, if necessary, Liquor Liability Insurance.

 

If you don’t currently have a Liquor Liability policy, the VFW Post Insurance Program is a great source for this coverage—and we’re happy to give you a free quote. But regardless of whether you choose to purchase coverage with us or not, do not go uninsured for this crucial coverage. Liquor Liability Insurance protects not only the Post, but Post officers, and even Post  members in the event an alcohol-related claim is made against the Post. The defense team for someone who has been seriously injured as a result of the actions of a patron of your Post will take every action necessary to get justice for their client or their client’s family. The risk is too great not to take proactive measures to protect your Post’s assests.

 

 

Does Your Post Need Liquor Liability Insurance?

 

If you can answer yes to any of the statements in this checklist, your Post needs Liquor Liability coverage.

 

 

YES     NO

The Post has a license to purchase and sell alcohol.

 

The Post has a separate area set aside for alcohol service.

(If you have a separate area, please be sure to check ‘Yes’,

even if you don’t sell alcohol.)

 

The Post serves alcohol and is open to the general public.

 

Post volunteers and/or employees dispense alcohol as part

of the service provided in renting the building.

 

 

 

VFW Post Insurance Program agents are experts in insuring VFW Posts for all of their liabilities—including liquor exposures. We offer a free consultation and quote to help ensure your Post has the coverage it needs to be properly insured. If your Post is seeking quotes for your Liquor Liability Insurance, please give us a call at (800) 829-8390 or contact our team by email at vfwinsurance@locktonaffinity.com.

 

1 NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, December 2013