Taking the leap of starting your own business is never an easy one. Whether you are a weekend warrior looking to pick up some extra income or branching out all on your own; you are taking a risk and putting yourself out there. this is something that most of the population could not fathom, but you are truly the future of our economy.
Most new businesses determine a budget, buy tools/equipment, set up a website and plan for all the business to come in. Insurance tends to be a side note that you know you will need to check off your list, but far too many too not take this aspect serious. Many new business owners seem to look at insurance and attempt to find the cheapest price they can find. This is a mistake that can lead to financial disaster for your business. Here is why this method of thinking can get you into trouble:
When you are a new business a few things tend to be very common. You generally know what kind of work you want to d. You might or might not have an idea of what work you are not willing to do. You also might have only a few employees, but you probably don’t know how much you’ll pay them. On top of that who knows how much sales you will have your first year. When you are shopping for a General Liability Insurance Policy these are all things you need to know. Before picking up the phone to call an insurance agent, here are a few things you need to keep in mind when comparing quotes:
Compare the Total Premium but also the rate being charged
Many companies will quote based on minimum premium. For an owner only company this might keep you at this level and not be a problem. Once you start adding employees or increase your operating space, other coverages might be necessary. The rates could increase much faster with one company as your company starts to grow. Talk with your insurance agent about these types of things so you have a ball park idea of what to expect down the road.
Look at the Exclusions on the Policy
As a general rule no insurance policy covers everything. All insurance policies will have some sort of exclusion. These exclusions outline a “hazard” that the insurance carrier will not be responsible for covering. This is very important to know, so you can avoid these exposures. Especially since your business will be on the hook for them. A lot of times they are exclusions for a reason. It is not typically for a carrier to strip down the policy just for a cheaper price. Most of the time these inclusions are in higher hazard areas. In the past these areas have cost insurance companies big and they are attempting to limit the risk they take. Taking this approach in your business operations can help you decide what work are not willing to do. It is usually easiest to make changes early on in your business as opposed to later down the road. Knowing these exclusions is important to minimizing the risk to your business and helps you determine what amount and type of risk you are willing to take in your daily operations.
Occurrence or Claims Made?
General Liability forms are written on either an Occurrence or a Claims Made basis. Occurrence is typically going to be more expense. If it is even available. Claims Made Policies limit the reporting period that you can report a claim to be covered under your policy. Professional Liability policies are typically offered only on Claims Made basis. If Claims Made is your only option, one of your main priorities should be making sure you don’t have a lapse in coverage. A lapse in coverage can leave your business vulnerable for much more than you may think.
Compare rating factors
Depending on the policy type, your type of business and coverages being offered; rating factors could vary into what determines your premium. Here are a few variables that can drive the premium though:
Square Footage: The amount of space for your building, the amount occupied and the amount of retail space can directly impact pricing of your liability policy. This is especially important for retail businesses. As well as General Liability, it can also impact your Commercial Property Coverage.
Payroll: Payroll is a direct rating factor for all Workers Compensation Policies. It also is a primary rating factor for most Contractors General Liability policies as well. Getting help to anticipate what your payroll will be should be something a decent agent can help you with.
Employee Count: Employee Count can be a direct rating factor for some General Liability Policies. It can also be a determining factor for Employment Practices Liability Insurance Policies. In some cases full time vs part time can make a difference as well.
Property Value & Valuation Type: The amount of Value, Reinsurance rule and Valuation type can all impact your pricing for your property coverage. If the Valuation is Replacement cost vs Actual cash value, than the coverage is very different. This is because of how the claim will be paid and the amount your business is insured for. If the valuation amount is not sufficiently covering the amount of property you have this can leave you not receiving the full value you lost in the event of a claim. This is something that is much better to compare when choosing an insurance policy than hashing it out with your insurance carrier when its too late and you have a claim.
Gross Sales, Garaging Zip Code, Location Address: These are a few other of many variables insurance carriers will look at in quoting your insurance policies. Sometimes they are direct rating factors but on most policies they can be a gauge for determining your pricing.
There are many factors to consider when determining which policy and coverages are right for you. There are less expensive policies that don’t cover as much, and there are also Cadillac plans that might cover more than you are looking for and many options in between. The key to take from this is not that you have to go with the Cadillac or to take the cheapest option, but make sure you are comparing the correct variables to know you are choosing the right option for you and knowing what you are covered for and what you are not covered for.