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Exposures Pizzerias Must Address

All restaurants share similar exposures that if left unaddressed can cripple their operations. Pizzerias are not exempt from such risks and, in fact, carry a number of unique exposures of their own.

In order to protect your business, it is important to identify and address all risks related to managing delivery drivers, accepting online orders, handling food, liquor liability and more. Doing so can safeguard your operations from serious financial loss, business interruption or even legal action.

Property

As a business owner, you are dependent on the property you own or lease to carry out your operations. This can include expensive items like pizza ovens, commercial ranges and coolers. If this property is damaged or destroyed, your business may be forced to recoup thousands of dollars in losses.

As a first step to protecting your pizzeria, it is critical that you evaluate your property and determine which pieces are most critical to keeping your business running. For many pizzerias, equipment such as ovens, refrigeration units, fryers and other commercial cooking units are the most necessary items they own. These units are often expensive and difficult to replace on short notice.

Next, it is important to consider which perils are most likely to cause damage to your property. Having to bake and freeze a large amount of food products means that fire and water are the most common sources of property damage for most pizzerias. Accordingly, it is vital that all large pieces of equipment that use water or heat are inspected and maintained on a regular basis.

It is important to determine the replacement cost of all of your property, including furniture, fixtures, goods, smallwares and equipment. Only after doing so will you know the amount of insurance cover you need to adequately protect your property and equipment.

Delivery Liability (Non-owned Vehicles)

One of the most unique exposures related to pizzeria operations relates to delivery drivers. Even if delivery drivers have their own auto insurance, restaurant owners can be held responsible for accidents that happen to drivers delivering their product. And these accidents can be costly—sometimes millions of dollars.

As such, pizzeria owners should take the following precautions:

  • Obtain a copy of relevant vehicle records for all delivery drivers at the time of hire and keep track of any violations that may impact your business.
  • Inspect the delivery vehicle to ensure it is safe. Specifically, pizzeria owners should check the horn, mirrors, brakes and windshield wipers.
  • Avoid instructing drivers to rush. While getting pizza to customers in a timely fashion is important, accidents are far more costly than late deliveries.
  • Hold regular safety classes for drivers.
  • Purchase non-owned auto insurance to insure bodily injury and property damage caused by vehicles not owned by your business. Or, if you have the funds, purchase vehicles and create your own delivery fleet. These vehicles could then be protected under a regular commercial auto policy.

For more protection, it is important to hire mature drivers with good driving records.

Food Safety

Food safety should be the number one priority for any restaurant, particularly because you are dealing with the health and safety of your customer base. Food poisoning caused by contaminated menu items can lead to widespread illness and even death.

Keep in mind that food poisoning can be caused by more than just bad product, and pizzeria owners will also need to take into account things like spoilage or contamination. Power outages and natural disasters can all cause food contamination, resulting in lost product or potentially harming your customers. What’s more, these events are often unpredictable and out of your control.

Ensuring that your pizzeria is clean and serves fresh, safe food to patrons is your greatest responsibility. To protect your business, consider doing the following:

  • Join your province’s restaurant association. Check the federal and provincial online resources regarding food safety rules.
  • Perform regular self-inspections of your operations. Some typical considerations include the following:
    • How are foods cooked, cooled and reheated? How often and in what way are temperatures recorded? Are thermometers functional?
    • How are potentially hazardous raw foods prepared and served?
    • What is your food labelling process?
    • Where and how is food washed and prepped?
    • When, how and by whom is equipment cleaned and sanitized?

Liquor Liability

Serving alcohol to patrons is a great way for pizzerias to increase their overall profitability. However, anytime a restaurant serves alcohol, new risks emerge. ​​​Anyone involved in the serving of alcohol could be held liable for damages or injuries that occurred when alcohol is deemed to have been a contributing factor in the incident.​ Your organization may be held responsible for the actions of others if people are served past the point of intoxication.

To protect your business and employees, it is imperative to establish procedures that ensure that patrons are never overserved. All servers, bartenders and managers should be trained to identify individuals who are intoxicated.

Customer Data Breaches

Pizzerias are unique in that customers may never have to step foot into a brick-and-mortar store, instead relying on ordering online. And while online ordering is quick and convenient, it opens customers and pizzerias to attacks from cyber criminals. Personal information, credit card information and more are all at risk.

As such, pizzerias should keep all firewall and security software up to date. Maintaining a breach response plan can also help you get back online faster in the event of an attack, limiting overall losses.

Injuries

Owning or leasing a premise creates a range of exposures, including slips, falls and food-related illnesses. While general liability insurance will protect you if anyone is injured on your property, it’s important for pizzeria owners to take the following precautionary measures to limit risk:

  • Utilize security cameras to help document incidents and prevent fraudulent liability claims.
  • Document any and all incidences, noting the cause and what actions were taken.
  • Maintain a good relationship with a customer in the event of an incident.
  • Keep up with maintenance responsibilities outlined in leasing agreements, if applicable.

Employment Practices

Pizzerias are often small operations, making them a higher risk for employment-related liabilities. In fact, more than half of all claims filed for employment-related liabilities are against employers with fewer than 50 employees.

Employment-related claims can be extremely costly, especially in cases that drag on for years. Lawsuits filed for wage and hour violations are especially common for restaurants. Accordingly, it is important that your organization understands and complies with all applicable labour and employment laws.

More Information

While pizzerias are not unlike other restaurants, their unique exposures must not be overlooked. Contact your broker for assistance with finding the appropriate insurance coverage.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

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