Storefront Crashes: A Growing Property Risk

Posted by Noff Colabella on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 08:00 AM

storefront-crashesShocking. Traumatic. Frightening. That’s what it must be like inside a store when a vehicle comes crashing through the front wall. If everyone is lucky, there are no deaths or serious injuries. Statistically, most of us will never experience such a traumatic event, but with these incidents on the rise, the risk is clearly growing. In fact, you might be shocked at how often it happens.

According to the Storefront Safety Council, which has collected data on almost 10,000 incidents over nearly five years, 300 to 400 drivers crash into buildings every month nationwide. The cost? An estimated 500 deaths, 4,000 hospitalizations, and millions of dollars in property damage every year.

Insurance companies bear the brunt of the costs for these incidents, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year. But drivers – and even business owners who are victims – are increasingly named in lawsuits for damages beyond insurance policy limits. And claim settlement amounts are skyrocketing. Some of the largest documented by the Storefront Safety Council include a $32 million wrongful death claim against a convenience store chain in Massachusetts and a $24 million wrongful death claim against a hotel in Florida.

But these incidents aren’t all accidental. The increase in intentional attacks adds a particularly frightening element to this growing risk.

In recent years, there’s been an increase in crime-related vehicle attacks on buildings. Emboldened and enterprising thieves are increasingly using vehicles (often stolen) to smash and steal ATM machines at convenience stores and pharmacies, and smash into retail gun shops to steal firearms, among other things.

Terrorism-related attacks are also on the rise. In 2016, 86 people were killed by a truck in Nice, France, and another attacker plowed a truck into shoppers at a Christmas market in Berlin. This year has seen an assailant drive a car into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge in London, and just recently, four people were killed and 15 injured in Stockholm, Sweden, when a man drove a truck into a crowd of people in a popular shopping district. While these terrorist attacks have happened abroad, the ISIS terrorist organization has encouraged its followers in the U.S. and other countries to use vehicles to commit acts of terror, so it can happen here at any time.

These attacks can be devastating for a business. The high cost of repairing damages and getting everything back in order is almost always more than the value of the items stolen. If there are injuries or deaths of employees involved, it’s even more traumatic. And it only adds insult to injury when a business that’s been hit is victimized again in court by a ruling saying their location was poorly protected against a foreseeable and preventable risk.

If your business is vulnerable, what are you doing to protect it?

property-riskInitiatives at the municipal, county, and state levels around the country have been introduced to address this growing risk and boost safety standards. But safeguarding your business is your responsibility. What are you doing to protect yourself from this growing risk? If the location and layout of your business make it vulnerable to vehicle intrusions, whether intentional or accidental, consider what precautions you can take to minimize the risk, such as installing crash-tested barriers. There’s a good reason that some large retailers, like Target, often have cement or steel structures in front of their entrances.

Besides taking appropriate physical precautions, it’s a good idea to review your risk management strategy, including your commercial insurance policies, to see what kind of coverage you have for these types of events.

Need a strategy to address this growing risk? Give the risk management professionals at BNC Agency a call today.

Tags: storefront crashes, property risk