Premises liability insurance protects the property owner from claims that a person was injured on the premises. While premises liability insurance is important protection, there are limits to the liability in scope and coverage.
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It is Not General Health Insurance
A premises liability policy is not a general business insurance policy. If an employee is injured while on the job and makes a claim, the premises liability policy would not be the insurance that would cover the situation. The injury to an employee would be covered under a general business health insurance policy or by worker’s compensation coverage.
It is Not Property Insurance
Premises liability insurance does not cover damage to general property such as furniture, computers, printers or files. It does not cover damages due to hail, fire, flood or vandalism. Insurance for these type of damages would be under the umbrella of a different type of policy all together.
When Premises Liability Applies
Premises liability insurance covers injuries that take place on the premises covered by the insurance policy. Such a liability policy does not extend to clients or patients on their way to an appointment or after they leave the premises. Slipping and falling on a wet floor on the ground floor of a high rise on which your office is on the ninth floor, would not apply to your premises liability insurance if you only rent or own your office space on that floor and do not own or rent the entire building.
However, if you meet clients away from the office at another site on a regular basis, the premises liability policy would apply if that factor is part of the policy. This becomes an important issue for counselors who meet with clients in other locations such as hospitals or who do workshops. Premises liability insurance also applies to work done from an office area in the home. If you ask for this extended coverage, make sure the liability policy is worded to include what needs to be included to protect you in various situations relating to where you conduct business.
What Premises Liability Insurance Covers
A premises liability policy covers those slips and falls with injury on your premises. It covers tripping on the edges of a rug. It covers slipping on a wet floor that has been washed, but has not yet dried, and, for certain, when no notice has been put out as a warning. It covers falling down stairs, even if that means only one step. It covers tripping over an object or falling because of a hole in the ground or floor. It covers injuries sustained due to construction work being done or repairs being made.
When a claim is made over injuries sustained on the premises by a patient, client or other person on the premises not covered under other insurance polices, premises liability insurance covers costs related to the primary injury such as the doctor visits, medical bills and surgery, permanent physical disfigurement, inability to work as well as pain and suffering. There is liability only if the injured party was injured on your property.
Limits to the Premises Liability Insurance Coverage
A premises liability insurance policy doesn’t cover the owner against every possible claim. Every insurance policy has upper limits of coverage. While you try to buy a liability policy that covers most claims, there is always the possibility the injury claim may exceed the limits of the premises liability policy in force.
If the claims exceed the policy limits, the owner of the property becomes liable for the uncovered expenses. Whether or not an owner has a premises liability insurance policy, the ultimate responsibility for paying the cost for injuries sustained on the premises rests with the property owner.
The Question of Handicap Accessibility
Handicap accessibility is important. Injury claims may be made if the access is not adequate, such as a ramp
not being wide or sturdy enough, keeping someone from being able to use it safely or if an injury occurs from trying to use it. There can also be a problem that the handicap access is blocked or made unavailable in some way to patients or clients.
Negating Policy Coverage
There are reasons an insurance company may renege on paying out on a premises liability claims. A main reason is negligence. If an owner is negligent in taking care of the property or acts in a manner to create an unsafe situation, injury claims may land in the owner’s lap without benefit of the liability insurance assistance. If the property owner refuses to maintain the premises, injuries are bound to happen. They are foreseeable due to the negligence and recklessness of the owner. An owner who runs around a store pushing the customers is a foreseeable problem. Injury claims may be followed by lawsuits. In such a case, the premises liability insurance company may not pay out for injuries sustained.
Strict Liability Actions
The insurance company may also not pay out if an action is considered a “strict liability” action. In such cases the owner is automatically liable for injuries that occur because of actions taken that are considered inherently dangerous, and hazardous, unpredictable or unreasonable. Storing a large amount of explosives on the premises would qualify as such an action. Harm is the logical consequence of these actions and a premises liability insurance claim may be denied.
Always Talk to a Professional
Not all premises liability policies are alike. Discuss your needs and potential liability with an insurance agent knowledgeable in the area of liability, before purchasing a policy. Once a claim is filed, do not handle the situation without the advice of an attorney.
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