Even small bulk venders need to be aware of issues impacting the vending industry; this includes FDA recalls, safety regulations, toy product safety recalls and local and federal laws governing the industry. The best way to stay abreast of these issues is with an industry newspaper such as Vending Times or in an industry organization such as National Bulk Venders Association (NBVA). These resources aren’t just for the big boys, anyone who runs a bulk vending route needs to be aware of potential liabilities. I know a lot of small venders don’t have liability insurance, but this is always a bad idea. Wal-Mart requires venders in their stores to have $2,000,000 in liability insurance in order to place machines on their property. Why do you think this is? It’s because clearly potential liabilities exist.
A few things that have happened recently in the vending machine business highlight the need for insurance. The first red flag is the current fervor over high lead and hazardous metal content in children’s toys. Most of these products are from China which is a major manufacturer of toys for the vending business. In 2004 the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall on four toy importers, these four suppliers were the main distributors for 90% of all toy jewelry that is vending, so obviously this is a big issue. About 150 million toy jewelry pieces had to be removed from vending machines.
The second red flag was the pistachio nut recall that happened in the summer of 2009. For venders selling pistachios this was a potential lawsuit waiting to happen. I haven’t heard of any vending related lawsuits resulting from this recall, but clearly it highlights the need for insurance.
Although the pistachio recall was a onetime event, it could happen again; nuts have been recalled in the past and most likely will experience recalls in the future. The metal content in vending jewelry is a more involved issue that has put a lot more regulations and laws on the books that will impact vending forever. I think both of these issues clearly highlight the need for vending business liability insurance for even small venders. Considering that $1,000,000 liability policy costs less than $300 a year, this is a small price to pay for peace of mind.