What’s the difference between a slip, a trip and a fall?
Person’s feet walking up icy steps
You probably think there isn’t any difference between a slip, a trip and a fall. But in the insurance world, there’s a definite distinction between them.


A slip occurs when there’s little or no friction between a walking surface and a person’s footwear. It could be the result of spilled liquid, a naturally slippery floor or path surface or the individual wearing shoes will little or no traction.


If someone loses their balance after their foot or lower leg catches or strikes an object or obstruction, it would be considered a “trip”.


In this instance, a person would actually fall after losing their balance. A fall can happen when someone goes from a higher surface to a lower one (e.g. going down stairs). A fall is also the result of a slip or a trip.

How to prevent slips, trips and falls

It’s up to you as a homeowner or tenant to make sure your property is relatively safe and hazard-free – not just for your own safety, but for anyone who visits.


  • Make sure that any areas where someone might walk are well lit
  • In the winter, ensure that walkways are shovelled, salted or sanded to keep them safe to walk on. Depending on where you live, there may be city bylaws that state you must have your walkways cleared within a certain timeframe (usually between 12 and 24 hours). If you don’t comply, it could result in a hefty fine.
  • Leaves can get pretty slippery when they’re wet. Keep paths and sidewalks clear
  • Have any cracks or uneven surfaces on your stairs, walkway or driveway repaired.
  • Ensure that your stairs have handrails and that they’re in good repair.


  • Secure any loose rugs or mats, and make sure they’re free of lumps or wrinkles that could be a tripping hazard.
  • Clean up any spills as soon as they happen.
  • Cover or move any electrical cords from high traffic areas.
  • Keep common areas and stairs obstacle-free.
  • Ensure that stairwells and high-traffic areas are well lit.
  • If you have floors with a slippery surface (marble, polished hardwood or freshly waxed), provide guests with slippers that have a rubber or ground-gripping sole.

Slips, trips, falls and your home insurance policy

If someone is injured on your property, the first thing you should do is make sure they’re okay and call an ambulance if needed. The next call you should make is to your home insurance provider.

If it turns out that you’re responsible for the person’s fall (fully or partially) and the person decides to sue you, the liability coverage you have through your home insurance may protect you. Your insurance company will work with the individual’s lawyer to arrive at a settlement.

Protect your home and the things you love most.