What to do in an incident
20 December 2021
No matter how much information we share about how to avoid an incident which may result in a claim, it is inevitable that some events are just unavoidable.
We know that if something unforeseen happens you’re likely to be under a lot of stress and may not know the best things to do to help minimise the impact and get you back on track as soon as possible; so in this article we will share our top tips for what to do if you find yourself in the middle of an incident which may or may not result in a claim on your insurance.
Check the person is okay and provide any immediate assistance
First things first - before you do anything - is to make sure anyone affected by the incident is okay, and provide any immediate assistance. It is important to know whether the person is injured or otherwise affected, and what the scope of immediate intervention is needed.
Checking on the person affected by the incident will not only help them get the assistance they need, but it will also help you understand the extent of the situation and what consequences there might be.
Collect witness details
If you do find yourself in the wake of an incident, whatever the size, we highly recommend you collect information from whomever might have witnessed the event. The importance of good witness evidence can be the difference between winning and losing your claim, or any claim against you.
An example of this is when an incident happened at one of our insured premises, the claimant who worked there fell through a pallet covering a cellar and sustained injury when finishing his shift late at night. The claimant alleged breached regulations and negligence, as well as failure to conduct a risk assessment.
The insured had supporting statements from credible witnesses who were able to confirm what procedures were in place and that the wooden cover across the cellar was fit for purpose.
Although the claimant didn’t come across dishonest during the trial, he could not explain the inconsistencies as to how his claim had been pleaded, but the insured had plenty of supporting statements to aid their defence.
As a result, the claim was dismissed because the claimant was unable to prove his case and had failed to show that the insured were in breach of their duty of care and/or were negligent.
Preserving evidence is really important, so take as many photos as you can, retain any relevant CCTV footage, and identify any physical evidence such as broken items. You may even want to mark off the location of the event until your insurer can visit so they can see exactly how things were at the time of the incident.
All of this will help your insurance provider, and any other authority involved understand exactly what happened, and what the result of your claim or defence will be.
The more evidence you can preserve, the better.
Ensure all documentation is up-to-date
As part of your regular processes, you should complete regular health and safety checks of your premises and record them, including any issues discovered and how they are rectified. We suggest this should be done each week. You should also have health and safety inspections twice a year by an independent assessor.
In case of any incident where the safety of your premises could be called into question, you should have these records to hand immediately to defend the claim.
You should also ensure the accident is recorded accurately and in full as soon as possible. You may rely on these records later down the line, so try to include as much information as possible.
Do not accept fault, and notify your insurers immediately
We are sure you have heard this advice before, and it holds true. No matter who it might seem is immediately at fault at the time, it is imperative that you don’t accept fault, as this could be held against you even if it is later revealed you were not to blame. Therefore, don’t use words like ‘it was my fault’ or anything else that could put the blame on you. Many people may tell you to not use the words “I’m sorry” but this is not strictly true, those are not an admission of fault and can sometimes go a long way to preventing a claim being made.
Instead, notify your insurers as soon as possible, and let them handle the process. Your only job in this incident is to collect and preserve facts, whilst your insurer (and the authorities if relevant) investigate who is at fault, and what the result of any claim should be.
Save this advice!
We hope this article was helpful, and gives you some ideas about what you should do if or when you do find yourself in the midst of an issue and how best to react in the moment. It can be an incredibly stressful time, so make sure you have this article bookmarked or saved for easy reference in an emergency.