When your business sustains a loss, one of the first steps you might take is to file an insurance claim. Your insurer will likely request documents from you to review as part of their coverage and liability investigation. The records your business maintains can play a crucial role in the investigation and handling of your claim. This underscores the importance of recordkeeping in your company’s risk management program.
Types and Benefits of Recordkeeping
There are numerous types of business records that a company could retain for business or compliance reasons. The following are examples of records commonly used for risk management. Documenting and retaining these types of records carries several benefits, including providing evidence of reasonable care taken by your company to ensure the safety of your company, your employees and of others.
- Business relationships – Using written contracts with third party companies helps to document the business agreement, such as the reason for the contract, duties of each company throughout the agreement, insurance requirements, and indemnification if a loss or claim occurs. Contracts are often requested and reviewed by insurers in claims investigations to help determine the business relationship, duties owed, and assign responsibility to the appropriate party.
- Company programs, policies and procedures – Comprehensive programs, policies and procedures should be formal and written to set company expectations for employees. Formal programs can help create an initiative-taking, safety-focused work culture, and encourage consistent enforcement of company policies.
- Employee training – Once programs, policies and procedures are established, employees must be effectively trained on company expectations outlined in the programs. Training should be documented to track and manage the type of training and completion dates, such as during new hire orientation and recurring thereafter based on company policy and/or compliance requirements.
- Operational logs – Depending on your type of business, logs may be used to document due diligence. Staff should complete logs consistently and at set recurring frequencies, e.g., hourly, daily, twice daily or weekly. Examples may include but are not limited to, interior and exterior sweep logs, mop/spill logs, bathroom inspection and cleaning logs, and snow and ice removal logs.
- Incident reports – Post-incident procedures must be established and should include formal incident/accident reports. These reports should capture important loss information such as:
- Description of the incident
- Where it occurred
- Description of injuries or damage
- Witness names and statements
Procedures should also include capturing evidence immediately following the incident including photographs of the area where the alleged incident took place as well as any available surveillance video footage.
Recordkeeping Methods and Retention
“If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen.” This phrase is associated with a proactive risk management approach to recordkeeping. Once you have contracts, logs, and other records in place, best practices recommend retaining records for an appropriate amount of time to utilize the documents if needed in the future. The appropriate period may vary based on the type of record, compliance needs, and business location when considering statute of limitations. Paper, digital, or a combination of both methods may be utilized for record retention. Regardless of the recordkeeping method chosen, it is important to keep business continuity in mind so that important company records are safeguarded in the event of an unforeseen emergency.