NY Restaurant Risk Management: New COVID-19 Strategies Create New Risks

Posted by Paul G. Sohigian on Fri, Jan 08, 2021 @ 02:22 PM

ny-restaurant-risk-managementFew businesses have gone unscathed from the COVID-19 pandemic; perhaps none have been more impacted than our beloved restaurants and eateries in New York. Although this state has responded to the mandated restrictions with finesse and fresh ideas, new COVID-19 strategies created unknown risks. Here’s a look at how the pandemic continues to transform exposures and how NY restaurants can approach these risks innovatively.

Top Liability Risks

Before COVID-19 became a household name, restaurants faced plenty of risks. Among these vulnerabilities include property damage, bodily or personal injury, and third-party lawsuits, to name a few.

Consider the notorious “slip-and-fall” claims other businesses face. With such heavy foot traffic, restaurants face this risk even more. Plus, restaurants aren’t immune to natural disasters or accidents, such as windstorms or fires. Cash transactions and digital marketing force restaurants to think about cybersecurity now more than ever before. Additionally, food safety concerns and employee practices continually top the list of worries. Aside from the top liability risks, COVID-19 has regrettably caused new risks to emerge.

New Risks Created by COVID-19

Restaurants nationwide have adjusted their business operations to comply with COVID-19 restrictions and prevent dreadful shuttering. Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers restaurants and bar considerations to help these businesses navigate the pandemic-induced exposures. Still, new risks continue to pop up.

Outdoor Dining

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down indoor dining in December of last year, and many restaurants will likely stick with that strategy. Think about outdoor dining structures and the vulnerability this approach poses to customers (and restaurant owners). On the one hand, this idea responds to CDC guidelines of proper social distancing, ventilation, and respiratory etiquette. On the other hand, temporary structures could cause accidents and injuries, re-create indoor risks, face non-compliance with local laws and codes, etc.


To serve alcohol or not to serve alcohol? This question is what Governor Cuomo forces restaurant owners and staff to answer every day. After placing stringent stipulations on NY restaurants months ago, he’s asked them to be choosy about serving alcohol only to people ordering food. Although the alcohol-to-go concept was a flop, restaurants must still face some tough decisions on who to serve. Naturally, these choices aren’t always crystal clear.

Employee Practices

Maintaining employee safety has always been on restaurant owners’ to-do list; however, now it’s rocketed to the top. With new fleets of delivery drivers, curb-side services, mandated mask-wearing, and a skeleton workforce, NY restaurants have a lot to navigate.

Naturally, several insurance policies protect employers and employees against some of these risks, such as workers’ compensation, employment practices liability, and hired & non-owned auto insurance. But are the limits of liability enough to cover these new risks? Or, have restaurant owners even considered the necessity of these coverages?

Navigating Old & New Liabilities

Covering new risks created by COVID-19 strategies is a tall order. The task can seem daunting, and yet, a mindful approach can help soften the blow. The following are questions that will help NY restaurants navigate liability, whether new or old:

  • What new responsibilities does your restaurant face?
  • Are the limits of liability adequate for the current risks?
  • Do active policies cover employees and customers against COVID-19 exposures?
  • What new strategies require new or additional coverage?
  • Have you reviewed your online exposures amid COVID-19 restrictions?

Moving your business forward in such uncertain times can be a confusing process. What’s more, over 10,000 restaurants nationwide have permanently closed their doors due to the COVID-19 crisis. Plus, dining in restaurants is down significantly, making the future seem dismal for many NY restaurants.

At BNC Insurance, we’re here to help you navigate this crisis with smart insurance strategies. Please review our New York Restaurant Insurance information and contact us to learn more.

Tags: restaurant risk management, NY restaurant risk management, COVID-19 risk management for restaurants