Owning a parking garage may seem like a fairly simple business – cars come and go while employees or automated systems take payment and operate gates. But this overly simplistic view doesn’t scratch the surface of the true liability risks that parking garage owners take on.
When customers are on your premises, you can be held liable for injuries and damage to their vehicles. One lawsuit can turn your profitable business into a nightmare.
You need comprehensive parking lot insurance that focuses on liability coverage in order to protect your livelihood from lawsuits and other financial wreckage caused by accidents, trips and falls, and property damage that can occur on your premises.
Liability insurance, in various forms, protects your business from financial losses related to third-party property damage or injuries. It also protects your customers if a vehicle is damaged or someone is injured on your garage premises.
A commercial general liability (CGL) policy provides broad protection from a variety of hazards. It protects you from the costs of lawsuits related to accidents, property damage and a variety of other mishaps.
Talk to your independent insurance agent about your need for garage liability insurance, which provides several forms of liability insurance more specifically designed for the needs of garages.
It may or may not be necessary depending on your operations, but if you provide valet services, you likely need this specialty coverage.
In addition, you should work closely with an independent insurance agent to determine your need for the following types of parking lot insurance:
- Business property insurance protects you if a fire, vandalism, smoke, theft or other event damages your property, including a parking garage structure. It provides coverage for office equipment, computers and more. Most business property policies also include business income – or business interruption – coverage. This will pay for rent, employee salaries and other expenses if you must close temporarily due to an unforeseen disruption.
- You may be able to purchase a business owners policy, or BOP, which is a package policy designed for small businesses. It combines property, liability and business interruption coverage in one affordable policy.
- Employee theft and crime coverage protects your business from the costs of theft, dishonesty and fraudulent acts committed by a single employee or a group of employees.
- If your business owns vehicles, you need business auto insurance to cover those vehicles.
Garagekeepers Liability Coverage for Parking Garage Owners
One of the most important components of your parking lot insurance package is garagekeepers liability coverage.
As a business that accepts a client’s property (cars) for storage (parking), you assume a legal responsibility called bailment. Garagekeepers liability insurance addresses your bailment exposure. It protects you if a customer’s vehicle is damaged due to your negligence while it is in your care, custody or control.
(Note: This coverage is separate and distinct from garage legal liability insurance.) Your garagekeepers liability coverage limit will likely be written based on the number and value of the vehicles that are typically parked on your premise.
Garagekeepers liability coverage varies depending on the needs of the business owner. It can be added as an endorsement to your CGL policy, garage liability policy or even a commercial auto insurance policy. Your independent agent can help you determine the coverage specifics that best mitigate your exposures.
Steps to Minimize Losses in Your Parking Garage
As an owner of a parking lot or garage, safety and security should be your number one priority. Not only do you want to protect your customers, but also you want to avoid the financial losses that accompany injuries and property damage that occur on your premises.
Here are some steps you can take to mitigate your risks:
- Fill pot holes.
- Clear sidewalks of obstructions, snow and ice.
- Remove trash and debris regularly.
- Clear clogged drains and ensure that gutters remove water away from vehicles and pedestrians.
- Install bright, reliable lighting and change missing, damaged or burned out bulbs immediately.
- Use clear, visible signage to alert customers to any dangers (e.g., stairways, ramps, low-hanging ceilings etc.).
- Train employees on how to properly respond to and report any injury or damage incidents.
- Be sure that parking spaces, entries, exits and stairways are clearly marked.
- Train employees to inspect the lot daily for any dangerous conditions.
Where to Find the Best Parking Lot Insurance
Parking lots are truly a niche business with unique insurance needs. Many insurance companies may not write the special types of coverage that you need, leaving you with cookie-cutter coverage and potentially devastating gaps.
An independent insurance agent can work with multiple insurance companies to find the right type of specialty coverage to protect your parking lot business from claims of injuries or property damage.
When you need tailored coverage for unique business risks, an independent agent is your best bet. Contact an independent insurance agent today.