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Can Security Guards Be Liable for Negligence?

Many business and property owners employ security guards to provide protection and a sense of safety for visitors, customers, residents, and employees. These professionals can work for security companies and offer security services at public and private venues.

When a business owner invites someone onto their premises, they assume a legal responsibility to keep guests safe from threats of physical harm and foreseeable dangers. When that doesn’t happen, certain parties can be held liable for the claimant’s personal injury or other damages.

What Is Premises Liability?

The term “premises liability” refers to a property owner’s responsibility for what happens on their property.

Whether your client is a business owner or a homeowner, they have a duty of care, which means they need to take reasonable precautions to make sure people on their property stay safe. When a property owner is aware of a preventable personal injury risk and doesn’t address it, it’s known as premises liability.

What Is Negligent Security?

A form of premises liability is negligent security. This occurs when security measures should be in place, but the property owner fails to provide sufficient security for guests, customers, or clients, and someone becomes the victim of a crime as a result.

Examples include:

  • Theft
  • Robbery
  • Property damage
  • Assaults
  • Arson
  • Sexual assaults
  • Homicide

The job of a security service professional is to protect other people from danger, which means a security guard is at risk of being sued for wrongful acts or negligence. This is where the proper insurance comes in. Similar to how doctors need malpractice insurance to protect them from personal injury claims, security service professionals need coverage.

Circumstances That Dictate Negligence

For a security guard, circumstances that dictate negligence occur when they fail to act when they should and could have. If a security guard fails to act out of carelessness, negligence is also relevant and can be proven.

Along with security guards’ behavior, security systems can lead to negligence. A security camera that is designed to record criminal activity or deter crime should be functioning properly, along with alarms that are designed to report break-ins and detect movement. Additionally, lights that illuminate an area to prevent theft and damage need to be appropriately maintained.

Types of Establishments That Should Get Liability Protection

A negligent security claim can arise from virtually any type of premise, including commercial and residential properties that are privately or publicly owned. As an insurance provider, you can offer liability insurance to a variety of businesses:

1. Bars

Bars often attract large crowds. Patrons come to get drinks with friends and enjoy live music, and the combination of alcohol and an overly crowded space can lead to rowdy patrons.

While security guards could get a boisterous crowd under control, some bar owners don’t employ security guards, and other employees are unlikely to be trained on proper security procedures. However, even bars that do employ security guards could face liability concerns due to negligence.

No matter the circumstances, bars face a high liability risk, and you can provide them with essential coverage.

2. Clubs

Similar to bars, clubs can get crowded and attract unruly patrons. This can lead to an unsafe environment. Many clubs employ staff to screen patrons before they enter the premises. If a staff member at the door fails to prevent an incident due to negligence, the club could be liable.

3. Restaurants

Both diners and staff can be at risk while on the premises of a restaurant. Because restaurants are open to the public and anyone can come inside, it’s especially important for restaurant owners to have the appropriate liability insurance. As an insurance provider, you can offer that coverage.

4. Hospitals

At the hospital, employees work around the clock, meaning many staff members are present in the middle of the night. Further, due to the large size of some hospital campuses, it can be difficult to keep track of who’s coming and going. These circumstances make hospitals an ideal candidate for security measures — and liability insurance as a result.

5. Nursing Homes

Proper security measures should be in place to keep residents and staff safe in nursing homes. If nursing homes don’t have security cameras or don’t mandate that visitors check in, outsiders could enter the property and injure residents or staff.

6. Apartment Buildings and Dorms

Both apartment buildings and dorms need to be maintained to keep residents safe. Even when residential buildings have security measures like keycard entry and security guards, non-residents can enter the premises and potentially cause security problems. It’s crucial for landlords and property managers to consider the risk of negligent security and obtain insurance to protect themselves.

7. Hotels

The safety of a hotel can depend on numerous variables. Cases of theft, vandalism, and more could occur, so security measures should be put in place to deter criminal activity. If a negligent security claim is filed, a hotel owner needs liability insurance coverage.

In all of the previous examples, failure to improve security can lead to injuries and legal claims when a property owner is aware or has reason to suspect that their property has dangerous conditions that could put visitors or residents at risk. Other establishments that could be at risk of liability for negligent security include:

  • Malls
  • Factories
  • Event venues
  • Gas stations
  • Office buildings
  • Banks

As an insurance provider, you can offer insurance coverage to the above property and business owners or to the security guards themselves.

How Business Owners Can Protect Their Security Teams From Liability Claims

Whether employed by private business owners or security companies, security guards can be protected from liability claims through training, equipment, property protection, and liability insurance.

1. Training

As a security guard, the job often includes the following tasks:

  • Assisting law enforcement
  • Decreasing criminal activity
  • Communicating with law enforcement
  • Identifying and preventing dangerous situations
  • Helping guests, customers, and employees in emergency situations

The best way for business owners to make sure their team is capable of doing their jobs effectively is by providing proper training. Depending on the state in which the business is located, the training regulations and requirements may vary. Further, training can vary depending on whether the security guard needs to obtain a permit or license to carry a firearm.

For armed security guards, training is more comprehensive and strenuous. Along with training to use the weapon itself, guards should understand weapon safety and handling and the laws around when it’s permitted to use a weapon. However, unarmed security guard training may involve a less intensive training course.

To lessen liability risk, business owners should ensure their security teams are trained regularly to both meet regulations associated with the job and provide clients with reliable security services.

2. Equipment

Different kinds of security equipment should be included on the premises and maintained to ensure it remains in working order. Some equipment, items, and personnel that may be investigated in a negligent security claim include:

  • Locks
  • Gates
  • Lights
  • Fences
  • Cameras
  • Windows
  • Security guards
  • Motion detectors

If equipment is non-functional, broken, or lacking, negligence could be proven. Even an elaborate, well-maintained security system can be overcome by a skilled, motivated criminal, which can lead to liability concerns for business owners and security guards.

3. Property Protection

While homeowners commonly use fences for property protection, some business owners neglect to use them for their commercial properties. Fortunately, commercial security fences are available to provide additional security and privacy. This investment is typically long-lasting, so business owners can enjoy added protection for years.

4. Liability Insurance

Often, security guards face unique challenges and liabilities that may fall beyond the bounds of general liability insurance. Many businesses that employ security guards are vulnerable to hard-to-place risks that can increase contact with aggressive individuals, which is why specialty liability insurance is so valuable.

Some damages and losses from a negligent security claim may include:

  • Lost income
  • Medical costs
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death

As an insurance provider, you can provide liability insurance via Prime Insurance Company. This insurance means your clients can benefit from professional liability and commercial excess coverage, which are unique elements of liability insurance for security service professionals.

Excess coverage is crucial for security guards and security companies because they can end up in dangerous situations and come in contact with aggressive individuals. Those in the security guard industry may need the following coverage:

  • Property coverage
  • Professional liability / errors and omissions coverage
  • Alleged molestation and sexual abuse coverage
  • Alleged assault and battery coverage
  • And more

By providing excess coverage to fit your clients’ needs, you can lower the risk for every party involved.

Contact Us for Security Guard Negligence Insurance Coverage

As an insurance provider, you may want to provide liability insurance for security service professionals. This insurance can allow you to serve professionals in the security guard industry who are in need of coverage.

At Prime Insurance Company, we work directly with insurance producers. As an excess and surplus lines insurance carrier, we offer a wide array of insurance solutions, including unique coverage and solutions for specialty risks. With more than 40 years in the business, we provide insurance for anyone who would otherwise go uninsured or be forced to self-insure.

Contact us to learn more about how we can work together to provide liability insurance for security service professionals or request a quote today.


rick lindseyAuthored by Rick J. Lindsey, CEO, President, and Chairman of Prime Insurance Company

Rick J. Lindsey hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. He began working in the mailroom of his father’s Salt Lake City insurance firm, getting his introduction to the business that became his lifelong career. Lindsey quickly rose through the ranks while working in nearly every imaginable insurance industry job. As an entrepreneur, specialty lines underwriter, claims specialist, risk manager, and a licensed surplus lines broker, Rick Lindsey is highly skilled in all levels of leadership and execution. As he progressed on his career path, Rick discovered an urgent need for insurers willing to write policies for high-risk individuals and businesses. He was frequently frustrated that he could not provide the liability protection these entities desperately needed to safeguard their assets. He also formed the belief that insurance companies acted too quickly to settle frivolous claims. Lindsey decided to try a different approach. He started an insurance company and became the newly formed entity’s CEO. This opportunity has enabled Rick to fill a void in the market and provide a valuable service to businesses, individuals, and insurance agents who write high-risk business. Prime Insurance also specializes in helping individuals and businesses who live a lifestyle or participate in activities that make them difficult for traditional carriers to insure. If you’ve been denied, non-renewed, or canceled coverage, don’t give up quite yet. Chances are Prime Insurance can help.

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