Pizzeria Perils

Emily Holbrook


May 2, 2013


In an effort to deliver hot, fresh pizza to its customers, Domino’s once used electronically heated delivery bags. Those bags, though innovative, turned out to be a liability. In one instance, they burned a new employee who was carrying the bag on his lap during a delivery. He was unable to walk for days, and the franchise was hit with a costly workers comp claim.

Although this was a unique case, it is an example of the many risks that pizzerias face. Delivery drivers are a common exposure. Once a driver pulls out of the parking lot, managers have little control over what happens next. Auto accidents, for example, can be challenging, especially for a business like a small-scale pizzeria. “Even if the accident is not his fault you still have a work comp claim to deal with,” said Jason Upton, managing member of PizzaInsurance.com. “If the accident is their fault, you could be hit twice…a work comp claim and an auto liability claim.”

Upton is no stranger to these threats. He spent more than 23 years in the pizza business with 17 as owner/operator of six locations in Alabama. Now he works to help other pizza establishments manage their risks.

These risks can often extend all the way to the customer’s front door. When the delivery person arrives at an unfamiliar location, they could be attacked by dogs, robbed or simply forced to maneuver unsafe walkways.

Upton experienced one claim in which the customer’s front door was on a deck that the driver had to walk across. “The deck gave way and the driver crashed to the ground, suffering a broken leg and other injuries. For three years now that claim is being litigated and subrogated.”

The pizza business, it seems, requires an appetite for risk.
Emily Holbrook is the founder of Red Label Writing, LLC, a writing, editing and content strategy firm catering to insurance and risk management businesses and publications, and a former editor of Risk Management.