In order to do business, many companies take possession of a customer’s property for a short time. If so, the business is referred to as a bailee. A bailee has a legal responsibility to care for the client’s property. That firm has legal liability if the customer’s property is damaged or destroyed. Businesses can purchase bailees insurance to protect against this liability.
Many businesses take possession of client property on a temporary basis. Your dry cleaner may have hundreds of customer items that are in the process of being cleaned. A parking lot attendant may handle dozens of cars. Bailees often have customer property so they can make repairs. That includes your garage mechanic, or even a jeweler who is making a repair.
Customer property can be damaged in many ways. The property may be damaged if your store or warehouse has a fire, flood or some other sort of damage. Client property can be at risk when you move property. If you use trucks, forklifts or other equipment to move items, those items could be damaged.
An employee might damage customer property intentionally. Maybe a worker who is repairing an item makes a mistake and creates more damage. An employee may drop a fragile piece of property or perform the wrong work on an item.
Moving Client Property
Common carriers are also considered bailees. Companies that make deliveries by truck, air or rail are considered bailees. Warehouses are also bailees, since they may store customer property.
The law states that bailees are required to use a high degree of care with customer property. The bailee must apply a level of care that any prudent person would use. If property is damaged or not returned at all, the company has not used a high level of care. At that point, the company may be held liable to repair or replace the customer’s property.
It’s important to note that a bailee cannot disclaim their responsibility to exercise a high level of care for property.
You can obtain bailee’s insurance to protect against a variety of risks. They include the risk of fire, lighting and weather-related risks. The policy can also protect you in case of vandalism or theft.
To operate your business, you may take responsibility for hundreds of customer property items each month. To understand how to protect yourself from damage to client property, consult with an insurance firm. Fusco & Orsini can apply their years of insurance experience to your changing insurance needs. Request a free quote.