10 Types of Liability Insurance Every Small Business Should Consider

Liability Insurance is the Bedrock of a Small Businesses Shield of Protection

Liability Insurance is a way businesses can go about protecting itself from liabilities the business faces that are beyond the funds the business has on hand to cover. General Liability is required by law for most businesses in most states, but this is usually not the only type of liability insurance coverage a business should secure. Partnering with an experienced insurance professional with whom you trust is the first step to properly protecting a small business. This professional can help advise a business owner just what types of risks they face and just what types of insurance policies they should secure. Here are 10 types of liability insurance coverage every small business owner should consider securing.

Small Business Liability Insurance Coverage

General Liability Insurance Coverage

General Liability Insurance is required by law in most states and protects a business from lawsuits, bodily injury, property damage, personal injury and completed work. Two components are included in general liability insurance. Those two components are public and product liability. Public liability protects a business from third-parties filing suit against a business. The suit can be for something as simple as the third party slipped and fell in your store. No matter how trivial the suit is, it can amount to an enormous legal bill to protect the reputation of a business. Product liability protects a business for products or completed work. When a business makes or sells a product, the business is responsible for what happens with those products. It is important to remember product liability does not provide coverage for claims of defective or faulty design alone unless that defect causes injury or damage.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance Coverage is also frequently referred to as Errors and Omissions, E&O, or Medical Malpractice. Professional Liability covers a business for financial losses suffered by third-parties due to professional advice given by the insured. The types of professionals who need this type of coverage include: Accountants, Attorneys, Real Estate Brokers, Consultants, Physicians, Architects, and Engineers. A Professional Liability Insurance Policy does not cover bodily injury or property damage, these claims are usually covered by a general liability policy.

Cyber Liability Insurance Coverage

Cyber Liability Insurance is a type of liability that protects a business from the liability the business faces to third parties for a data breach that occurs within the organization. Cyber Liability Insurance covers the costs associated with the liability of a claim or suit related to a data breach, but it does not cover the first party damages to the business.

Dram Shop Liability Insurance

Dram Shop Insurance Coverage applies to businesses that sell and serve alcohol. A Dram Shop Liability Insurance covers a business for personal injury caused by an intoxicated customer. Dram Shop Liability grew from laws passed dealing with the actions of intoxicated patrons who were served when the business knew the patron was severely intoxicated. According to Vernet v. Serrano-Torres, 566 F.3d 254 (1st Cir. P.R. 2009), it was held that the theory of dram-shop liability has been described as one where a bar or tavern may be liable for the wrongful or injurious actions of a patron, if it served alcohol to that patron after it knew, or should have known, that the patron was already intoxicated.

Directors and Officers Liability Insurance is a type of liability insurance that is paid out to the officers and directors of a company or organization, as reimbursement for losses or advancement for defense costs in the event an insured faces a lawsuit as a result of alleged wrongful acts in the officers or directors capacity as a leader of the organization. Directors and Officers of a corporation or a non-profit may be liable for damages if they damage the organization in breach of their legal duty, if they mix personal and business assets, or if they fail to disclose any and all conflicts of interest.

Employer Liability Insurance Coverage

Employer Liability Insurance is an extremely important part of every businesses workers compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation pays a workers medical costs and some lost wages if they are hurt while on the job. If an employee feels their workers compensation benefit has not provided them enough, they can sue a business for damages. Some of those damages and the legal fees associated with those suits are covered under an employer liability insurance policy.

Product Liability Insurance

Product Liability Insurance Coverage protects a business from lawsuits that result from injuries, illnesses, or property damage linked to a product made by a business. These damages include manufacturing error, faulty design, malfunctions, and even misuse. This applies to manufactured products no matter if they are simple or complex.

Umbrella Liability Insurance Coverage

An Umbrella Insurance Policy is a type of coverage that sits on top of other existing policies. When there is a covered loss and the limits of that policy are met, the Umbrella Policy kicks in to cover additional costs up to the limits of the Umbrella Policy. They key part of this policy to understand is that the claim causing the loss has to be a covered loss. An Umbrella Insurance Policy does not cover additional losses that are not covered. The policy only kicks in when the limits of an existing policy are met.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) can protect a business in the event the business faces a lawsuits related to hiring, employing, and terminating employees. EPLI can protect a business when someone files a claim due to misconduct or violation of labor laws. These lawsuits could include claims of employee discrimination, wrongful termination, discrimination (age, racial, gender), breach of contract, sexual harrassment, or emotional distress.

Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)

Businesses can package all of the necessary liability policies in to a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). A BOP includes several different policies.  They are usually designed for a specific industry because a carriers uses historical claims data to know which types of claims are common for businesses within a particular industry. BOP’s can be altered to meet the needs of a business and the level of risk a business owner is willing to take and most times carriers will offer a discount for buying multiple policies in one package.

3 Types of Liability Insurance Every Technology Company Should Have?

General, Professional, and Cyber Liability Insurance

Technology Companies have enormous risks. Those risks depend upon whether the business sells or services technology products. Some businesses store data about the businesses customers. Other businesses create technology that other businesses use to store the data of those customers. No matter what type of risk a business faces, there are three types of liability insurance all technology companies should secure. Those policies are General, Professional, and Cyber Liability Insurance.

Technology Liability Insurance

General Liability Insurance

General Liability Insurance for Small Business is the most important type of insurance policy a company can secure.  General Liability Insurance helps policyholders from the third party risks associated with lawsuits and other types of claims. Those claims include bodily injury and property damage that is caused by direct or indirect actions of the insured. For most businesses a general liability claim can be for something as simple as a customer slipping on wet floors inside a restaurant or when when a product sold breaks and causes an injury. For technology companies, General Liability Insurance will cover legal expenses when a business is sued for customer injuries, property damage, and slander. For many within the insurance industry, general liability insurance is referred to as the first line of defense for a business. It should not be the only coverage a business secures.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance is also referred to as Errors and Omissions Insurance. Professional Liability Insurance is coverage for professional businesses that give expert advice or provide technology services for a fee. The coverage prevents businesses from bearing the full cost of defending against a negligence claim made by a client, and damages awarded in a civil lawsuit.

Here are five types of claims that are commonly covered by a Professional Liability Insurance Policy:

  • Breach of Contract: Breach of Contract that occurs when one or both parties do not live up to a contract that was previously agreed upon.
  • Fraud: Fraud occurs when one party intentionally lies or deceives for financial or personal gain.
  • Negligence: Negligence occurs when one party fails to use reasonable care that results in damage or harm to another person, business, or organization.
  • Breach of Warranty: Breach of Promise occurs when a person or business promises something to a customer in a warranty, and the business is unable to keep the promise made by the product or contract.
  • Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation occurs when a person or business makes a false claim to convince another person or party into a contract.

Cyber Liability Insurance

Cyber Liability Insurance covers the insureds liability for damages that result from a data breach. It does not cover immediate response costs that a business faces after a data breach. A Cyber Liability Insurance Policy is a type of insurance that protects businesses that sell and service technology. A data breach can result from something as small as an employees laptop being stolen while going to the bathroom at a coffee shop, but it can also result from an employee clicking on a phishing email. Data breaches are no longer just a problem for bug businesses. Both the Target and Home Depot Data Breaches started by hackers first accessing the computer systems of a small business who were partners with the bigger business. As most enterprise level business take cyber security more seriously, this is becoming a much more common way for businesses to become victims of a data breach.

Accounting Firms

Businesses in the accounting industry have unique risks that only they face. For this reason, you need to partner with an insurance agent who is comfortable working with businesses in this industry. Slips, trips, and falls do not cause a large problem to this industry because the employees do not move around a lot and there is limited interaction with the public.  Repetitive injury like carpal tunnel and back problems can arise from long periods of time sitting at a desk.

Accounting

Bigger risk arise from the fact that you are interacting with individuals and businesses private sensitive financial documents. These risks are typically low in frequency, but can most definitely be severe if the wrong information falls into the wrong hands. Additional risks arise from the fact that accounting businesses are providing professional advice and services. Because of the enormous amount of risk in all of these areas of the business, it is important to get an all encompassing insurance package. Consulting with an experienced independent insurance agent is always the best way to know for sure you are getting the most comprehensive coverage at rock bottom prices.  Here are TKTK Insurance policies all accounting services firms should strongly consider.

 

Coverages Recommended for Accounting Professionals:

✓ General Liability Insurance
✓ Professional Liability Insurance (E&O)
✓ Hired and Non-Owned Auto
✓ Workers Compensation Insurance
✓ Employee Dishonesty Bond

General Liability Insurance

In most states, this coverage is required by law to be in business. For this reason, most business owners start with this coverage and workers compensation insurance.  The risk of a General Liability claim is minimal since most operations are not conducted on the businesses property and most of the client contact is electronic or by mail. When clients do visit the office, they should be kept separate from the main office area in an attempt to prevent them from hearing conversations regarding other clients’ confidential information. Off-premises exposures arise when employees are engaged in sales visits, training sessions, and physical audits at the customer’s premises. There should be policies and training as to off-site conduct by employees.

Professional Liability Coverage

 

The risk factors accounting services businesses face in relation to Professional Liability Coverage include the services the business provides, the firm’s credentials, the employees experience as well as the ratio of professional to clerical employees. Failure to conduct thorough background checks to verify credentials and education can pose a significant risk. In some circumstances it can cause a claim not to be covered. The risk of E&O claims increase if clerical workers are allowed to do tasks that only the professionals should handle and if error checking procedures are inadequate. Most carriers have plans in place for you to follow if you do not already have such plans in place.

Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance

Risks associated with automobiles are generally limited to hired and non-owned auto insurance. This is because most accounting businesses do not have a need to buy vehicles specifically for business purposes. However, many employees probably do use their personal vehicles for business purposes to visit clients facilities. In these situations, there should be clear procedures in place regarding personal use by employees and their family members. The age, training, experience, and records of each driver, as well as age, condition, and maintenance of the vehicles, are all important items to consider if your business needs a commercial auto policy.

Workers Compensation Coverage

Workers compensation is a form of liability insurance required for employers in 48 out of 50 states. This type of insurance compensates injured workers for lost wages and medical costs while giving business owners the peace of mind to know they will not be sued for accidents that occur as part of normal operating procedures. Accounting firms don’t typically have a hard time finding affordable workers compensation coverage because of the light physical duty of the industry.  Repetitive injuries like carpal tunnel are the most severe type of risk employees face.  Offering adequate chairs and even desk that allow employees to stand for part of the day are a worthy investment.

Employee Dishonesty Bond

There are two main types of criminal insurance related to employee dishonesty. The two types of coverage that a business can purchase to prevent losses related to the criminal activity committed by your employees are Commercial Crime Insurance and a Fidelity Bond.  A Fidelity Bond is a form of insurance that covers losses resulting from employee dishonesty. This can help cover any lost money or securities that result from an employee’s dishonest acts. A Fidelity Bond is meant to act as a security against potential fraudulent employees or disgruntled employees.  A Commercial Crime Insurance Policy is typically designed to meet the needs of organizations other than financial institutions (such as banks). A commercial crime policy typically provides several different types of crime coverage like: employee dishonesty, forgery, computer fraud, funds transfer fraud, kidnap, etc. Both of these policies will cover losses due to the actions of your employees. If you are not sure which type is best for you it is always best to consult with an experienced independent insurance agent to make sure you are properly covered.

 

Class Codes ASSOCIATED WITH THE ACCOUNTING INDUSTRY

Business Liability Category: Service Businesses

SIC Business Insurance Codes:

  • 8721: Accounting, Auditing and Bookkeeping Services
  • 7291: Tax Return Preparation Services

NAICS Liability Classifications:

  • 541211: Offices of Certified Public Accountants
  • 541213: Tax Preparation Services
  • 541214: Payroll Services
  • 541219: Other Accounting Services

Business ISO General Liability:

  • 41677: Accounting/Consulting

Common Workers Compensation Class Codes:

  • 8803: Accountant, Auditor; traveling
  • 8810: Clerical; office only

Claims Made Vs Occurrence

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between a Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Liability Insurance Policy?  

The choice to choose a Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Liability Policy can have an enormous impact on your business.  Making certain your business has the proper coverage can make an enormous impact to your bottom line, when a claim occurs.  Claims Made Vs Occurrence Policies are typically in relation to a general liability, professional liability, and employment practices liability insurance.  The types of businesses who are more likely to need this type of coverage include contractors, architects, engineers, attorneys and medical professionals.

Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Insurance Policies

Claims Made

A Claims Made Insurance Policy covers claims filed during a given period of time. In most cases, a claim must be filed during the term of the claims-made policy in order for it to be covered by the insurance carrier. If the claim is filed two months after the policy has ended, the claim will not be covered.  The positive to this type of policy is price. Claims Made Policies are generally less expensive compared to Occurrence Based Policies.

Occurrence

An Occurrence Based Insurance Policy covers claims that arise from damage or injury that takes place during the policy period.  This is regardless of whether the claim was filed during the term or after.  A claim can be filed many years later and still be covered, as long as coverage was in place during the time of the occurrence.  This is important for professionals like architects who give professional advice and services to physical structures that may have a problem years down the road. If it is found the problem with the structure was the result of the engineers faulty work, the engineer can be liable for damages.  With an occurrence based policy in place this would be covered under most circumstances.

For most business owners, an occurrence policy is more appropriate and is commonly purchased.  Only using a claims based policy can be a bit of a gamble.  In most instances, the additional cost of an occurrence policy form is minimal compared to purchasing a claims made policy.

Why are both Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Insurance Policies Offered.

Why are both Claims Made Vs Occurrence Based Insurance Policies offered?

The primary reason claims made coverage is still around is because there is a demand and because insurance companies may only be willing to write certain types of risk on a claims made basis.  This is because it is much easier for an insurance company to estimate price for insurance premium and measure their profitability with a claims made policy compared to an occurrence policy.  This is because there is a clear start and stop date to coverage. With occurrence coverage, it can take years or even decades for insurance companies to measure their profit and loss.  In the most simple terms, a business owner who purchases an occurrence policy for one year will always be insured for future claims while a claims made policy only covers the insured for that time period unless they purchase additional tail coverage.  If the business owner is willing to take the risk in exchange for a lower premium, claims made policies are still offered.

Disadvantages of Claims Made Vs. Occurrence

The disadvantage of a claims made policy is that it is more complex. A claims made policy requires a strong understanding of the policy language used in the insurance contract. Additionally, a claims made policy is triggered by the insured’s awareness of potential claims and notification of the claim to the insurance company. Failing to properly notify the insurance carrier could void the coverage. The main disadvantage to an occurrence policy is the cost. On average Occurrence policies cost 35 percent more then a claims made policy.

Benefits of Claims Made Vs. Occurrence

The main benefit of a claims-made insurance policy is that it offers flexibility. The coverage is portable. You can take the coverage from one insurance company to another if you decide to switch carriers form year to year.  The primary benefit of an occurrence policy is that it is permanent. The period of time your business is insured under an occurrence policy is protected forever by that particular policy. With an occurrence policy the business never needs to renew or buy a tail when you leave.

3 Benefits of a Business Owner’s Policy.

What is a BOP?  If you work in insurance long enough, this becomes a question you receive quite frequently.  Many small businesses shop their policy around themselves to many different insurance companies. This can save those businesses some money, but it does come at the expense of the business owner’s precious time. Most insurance companies attempt to remedy this problem by offering a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP).

Find the answers to your questions about a Business Owner's Policy at My Insurance Question.com

A Business Owner’s Policy is an insurance package designed for businesses in a particular industry. These packages can be adjusted to fit the needs of each individual business, but they most commonly come in packages specific to each industry.  Over time, insurance companies have found certain coverages are needed by all businesses in a particular industry.  Because they have a unique insight in to the loss history of many businesses in that particular industry they tend to recommend a certain package of policies for that industry.  By offering a business owner’s policy, insurance companies can make sure there are no gaps in coverage.  At the same time they can make sure the business is not carrying too much or unnecessary coverage. Carrying a BOP benefits a business owner in three main ways.

Pricing

Pricing is one of the first aspects that attract business owner’s to choosing a BOP.  Insurance carriers are more likely to give businesses a discount if they know they are going to sell a business multiple policies. Business Owners can do the shopping for themselves, but they have to spend time searching for better coverage and price instead of working on their business. With the help of a good independent insurance agent, a business owner can allow the agent to shop the policy around to many insurance carriers. This allows the agent to negotiate the best price and the most complete coverage. For this reason, it is important to choose an insurance agent who has relationships with many insurance providers, not just a select few. Many agencies work exclusively with just a few carriers and this does not allow the agent to shop around your policy if you are in a tough classification code or have a negative claims history.

No gaps in coverage

Another great reason to consider a BOP is to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. Shopping for your policies individually might save a business a few bucks on the front end, but it be very detrimental to your business when a claim occurs.  This is a portion of the insurance industry where a few grey areas occur. When an incident occurs and a business has policy from many different carriers, at best they business will have to wait additional time while the carriers determine who is liable for the claim.  At worst, having several different carriers can cause the claim to not be covered at all.  On the contrary, if the policies are all with one carrier, the underwriter will just determine which policy needs to kick in and then processes the claim.  This is because, if you have a BOP with just one carrier typically there is General Liability, Professional Liability and an Umbrella policy. In this case the insurance company just determines which policy is in effect and processes your claim. When every policy is carried with one insurance carrier, that carrier can ensure there are no gaps in your policy.

Certificates

The final way businesses benefit from carrying a Business Owner’s Policy is when there is a need for a certificate. This occurs when businesses are involved in projects they are contracted on. Many artisan contractors do work for several general contractors. Take an electrician as an example. For each general contractor an electrician does a project for they need a certificate proving insurance coverage. If each coverage is with a different carrier that is an additional call the electrician has to make. If that electrician has a BOP they call one agent and can get a certificate for all of their policies.

These are three of the many benefits business owners get when they go with a Business Owner’s Policy. BOP’s are a win-win situation because the insurance company benefits from more business while the business owner benefits from having better service, more complete coverage and usually a better price. When in need of a business insurance quote it is also important to consult with an insurance agency who partners with many carriers. This will allow their agents to shop the policy to more carriers and ensure your business is getting the best coverage at the absolute lowest rates in the industry.

Florist

I only own a small florist, how much insurance do I really need?

 

Here are 6 insurance coverages every floral business should have.  

How much and what types of insurance coverage a floral business needs really depends on the size, type and scope of your business.  If your business only sells flowers at one location than you may not need all of these coverages, but if your business designs flower arrangements or provides delivery service it opens up your business to an enormous amount of additional risk.  Here are 6 insurance coverage’s all floral businesses should strongly consider securing.

General Liability

General Liability Insurance will protect your business from property damage and bodily injury claims of third parties.  Third parties can be anyone not associated with your business that is harmed by the actions of your businesses operations.  Included in this group of people can be customers, vendors delivering products to your facility or even a plumber who comes to work on your toilet.

Professional Liability

If you are designing floral arrangements for special occasions like weddings, funerals, Valentines Day or Christmas you can be sued if the designs are not up to the expectations of the customer.  The lawsuits do not have to be founded to cost your business immensely in legal fees and reputation management.  This coverage will help your business withstand the costs to defend your self in court and for missed time at work spent defending you and your business.

Commercial Auto/Hired and Non-owned Auto

If your business uses vehicles as a part of normal business operations than you need to secure one or both of these coverages. If the business owns a vehicle and that is the only vehicle used for business purposes than a commercial auto policy should suffice your business, but if you have employees who use their own vehicle or rented vehciles for any part of their job than you need to secure the addition of hired and non-owned auto coverage.

Commercial Property 

A commercial property insurance policy is needed if your business owns and operates any property as a part of your operations, no matter the size. It is different than a traditional home owners policy.  Commercial property policies are sold on a replacement cost or on an actual value basis.  It is usually best to purchase a replacement cost policy.  This type of policy will cover the cost to tear down, haul off and replace the property that is damage.  An actual value policy will pay you an agreed upon value of what the property is worth.  In most cases this will not pay the entire amount to make your business whole again.

Inland Marine 

If you own any specialized equipment or equipment that is designed to be in transport frequently, you have a need for Inland Marine Coverage.  A commercial property will cover your facility.  A commercial auto policy will cover your vehicles.  If you have specialized equipment you use to design and maintain the arrangements or an attachment to your vehicle like a trailer it will not be covered by either of these policies. This is where an inland marine policy can be added to cover this specific equipment. Taking additional time with your agent to explain all the details of your business can make sure you secure all of the policies your business needs.

Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation Insurance is required by law for most businesses in 48 out of 50 states. The system is managed by the individual states, so it is important for you to check with the proper state governing agency to ensure you are compliant with your states laws and regulations. Even if there is an exclusion for your business to not carry the coverage, it is usually in your best interest to still secure workers comp coverage. This insurance policy will protect your business from being sued for most injuries that occur as a part of normal business operations. It also provides medical coverage and reimbursement of some lost wages for workers injured as a part of normal business operations.

Real Estate Insurance Needs

5 Types of insurance every Real Estate Agency should have.

 

Real Estate Agencies take on a unique set of risks compared to other traditional businesses.  Many businesses, like a restaurant for example, have a brick and mortar location where a majority or all of the business takes place.  Real Estate Agencies, while most do have a physical address, have a majority of their work taking place at a third party location.  These locations frequently are at the property they are helping to sell.  For this reason, real estates agencies have to secure a unique group of coverages in order to adequately protect their business. Here are 5 recommended coverages most real estate agencies should secure.

 

  •    General Liability Coverage
  •    Errors and Omissions (Professional Liability)
  •    Property Insurance
  •    Hired and Non-Owned Auto
  •    Workers’ Compensation Insurance

 

General Liability Insurance

For most real estate agencies, the risks related to general liability coverage are often minimal.  This is primarily due to not much business occurring at the physical location.  A majority of their work is done over the phone, by electronic mail or at a third party location. Off-Premises risks can be extensive for this industry. That is true whether you are dealing with the selling of properties or rental properties.  These risks typically arise from sales visits, inspections, open-houses and similar work done at the customers’ home or other buildings.  In some cases, there is an agent representing both the buyer and the seller.  Any damage that occurs during joint operations, like an open-house, can cause a dispute between all parties involved. Monitoring of keys is another risk that must be dealt with carefully.  Documenting every time, you access a facility is highly recommended to limit the risk you face regarding access to the facility.

Errors and Omissions Coverage (Professional Liability)

Exposure associated with errors and omissions (E&O) may be the most significant risk a real estate agency faces.  This is because a majority of the work you do is highly specialized and you are giving advice.  If you give the wrong advice, it can cause the business to be liable to the client in the future. To limit these risks the agency can make sure all employees have the proper credentials, experience and has the proper ratio of professional employees to clerical employees. Thorough background checks are essential to limit E&O Claims.

Commercial Property Insurance

If your agency owns physical property, you need to secure Commercial Property Insurance.  There are two ways these policies are sold.  They are sold on a replacement base or on an agreed upon value of the property.  In most cases, it is better to secure a policy at replacement level.  This will include the cost to tear down the facility, remove all debris and build a new facility.  If your policy is an agreed upon value it typically does not include these additional costs.

Commercial Auto/Hired and Non-Owned Auto Coverage

If you own vehicles for your employees to use when they are away from the office than you need to secure a Commercial Auto Policy.  Most real estate agencies do not own vehicles specifically for company use, but they do have agents who use their personal cars for business purposes.  When these employees are using their personal vehicles for business purposes the business is liable for any accidents that may occur.  The business is not liable for the damage to the employee’s car. This is covered by the employee’s personal auto insurance policy.  The business is liable for damage to the car and any bodily injuries that may occur to third parties.  A Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance Policy will take care of most liability a business faces resulting from accidents that occur when employees drive their personal cars or rented vehicles for business purposes.

 

Workers’ Compensation Coverage

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required by law in 48 out of 50 states.  Each state has their own rules and regulations regarding the administration of this system.  Each state has their own exceptions for some small or family owned businesses.  Workers Comp is similar to general liability, except that it covers employees and not third parties.  When an employee is hurt on the job, work comp coverage will cover some of their lost wages (typically 60%) and medical costs incurred as a result of the injury.

New Business- Starting from scratch

Ideas for Start-up Business Plans

So you have decided to (or maybe you are still considering) taking a leap most of us only dream of.  That leap is to start your own business. Perhaps you have worked for someone else in your trade for several years and want something of your own.  You may be fresh out of school (or still in school) and want to get started early.  Maybe you just have a unique opportunity to start your own business. If this is you than you are probably looking at what you need to start:

  • Start up capital
  • Supplies
  • Office/shop space
  • Sales opportunities

These are things all first time business owners are looking for. One thing many new businesses put off until last moment is insurance. You will spend thousands of dollars just to start up your dream of owning your own business; you don’t want one accident to take it all away from you. Below are several insurance policies that can protect you from claims that could easily ruin your dream of owning your own business. Here we will go over the basic areas that you want to look at for starting your own business, and when you want to start looking.

First, Why is this important? Claims with new businesses can be more devastating for a few reasons.

  • The controls that are in place to prevent/reduce the extent of claims/liabilities are less established. Many of these types of firms can be started in a home office.
  • New businesses are many times less defined in their operations, which can bring the operations in to areas the business owner may not be as familiar with. These areas they may not have as much experienced in. This can bring up more risks a
  • Some businesses do not have an established LLC or Corporation established. Regardless of the insurance policies you have, it’s important to work with your attorney and CPA to make sure you choose the business entity type that works best for you. This separates your business liabilities from impacting your personal assets. It is bad enough if the incident you could have protected closes your business, but it is a much worse situation if the same incident causes you to lose your house or your savings.  

 

Here are a few policies we recommend you start out with pretty early on:

Commercial Auto – Commercial auto is a topic in itself and oftentimes one of the most overlooked policies by a new business owner since many people just use their personal auto’s and don’t see this as something they need. This might not be the first new policy you look to get, it should be the first insurance policy you likely already have that you will want to look at changing though. If your using your personal vehicle for business purposes, at the very least you want to make sure your agent and insurance carrier is aware of that and that you have business use on your policy, upgrading your personal auto policy to a commercial auto policy might be a couple bucks more, but in many cases the difference is a lot less than you may expect, plus, a less expensive policy that doesn’t cover what you need isn’t really that valuable anyway.

General liability –  Starting a business, general liability is the first policy most companies look for. If you’re a retail store its sometime referred to as “slip and fall coverage” to cover liability from bodily injury on your premise. Keep in mind, some of these policies only do that and might not cover all/any off premise damages. These policies come in a variety of forms and coverages and the pricing typically reflects that, that’s not also to say you cant shop to make sure you’re getting the best value. This for some business types can be packaged into a Business Owners Policy that can cover property and other additional coverages your company needs like Data Breach, EPLI and Hired/Non owned auto liability.

Workers Compensation –  For starters let me clear a couple things up first: Workers Compensation is not automatic; it’s not something automatically gets taken out of payroll without you getting a policy in place first. This policy covers employee injuries when hurt on the job for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. For some high risk businesses like heavy manufacturing, construction and transportation this can be one of the most expensive and hardest policies to get competitive quote’s on and can be frustrating for businesses owners that just want to buy the policy. The key in the beginning is getting a policy in place, pay your bill on time, and keep continuous coverage. Once you have a prover record, especially for 3 years with coverage in place the market is a lot easier to get coverage for companies that have established. If you are a labor intense business the pricing can seem very high, the expense for covering a claim out of pocket, and fines from many states can be just as expensive if not more than your premium would be anyway. This normally isn’t needed until you hire an employee, but sometimes contracts can still require it which can open up more business opportunities for your company.

Professional Liability –  For some companies your biggest risks aren’t necessarily a customer slipping and falling, or an employee injuring themselves. Many professional firms have what can be equally as damaging of risks to them. The obvious ones are your Physicians Medical Malpractice, your insurance agents and accounts have Errors and Omission’s insurance to cover mistakes or professional errors made. Little mistakes can make huge claims but there are some companies you don’t think of needing this like Printing companies, Website Developers, IT Companies, Bookkeeping and Marketing Firms. Website Copyright infringement, or a faulty code in a software program that causes a glitch or even worse a breach could be a huge expense and could mean huge liability on your company.

 

Every business owner is worried about protecting what they own. The property you own can be devastating if its lost, damaged or stolen. However, the liabilities you take on during the everyday course of your business operation can be even worse and costlier. Even if you don’t own any property. There are insurance policies to cover the obvious, but also many things you wouldn’t think of. If there is a chance of an injury, fire, something stolen, or decreasing in value for something other than every day wear and tear (heck maybe there’s a policy for that too) there is likely an insurance policy for it. Working with a Professional Insurance Agent that can give you options and help guide you on the coverages that would be most important to you.

5 coverages every Non-profit business should have.

The Non-profit Industry is a very wide industry that encompasses a large amount of different types of organizations.  Some businesses simply operate a soup kitchen and only offer meals to those in need. Others offer medical coverage and still others offer construction services for those in need of housing. Each type of mission brings its own unique risks.  That is why it is important for non-profit managers to partner with insurance agents who have knowledge in many different industries and agents who partner with a large amount of carriers. This can help the agent find the non-profit quotes from numerous carriers and will allow them to get your nonprofit more complete coverage and usually at lower rates on premium.

non-profit workers compensation insuranceA lot of insurance carriers have restricted coverage for non-profit and charitable organizations due to a large amount of historical claims and their potential exposure from volunteers serving these organizations. A few carriers have taken a different approach to non-profits and created programs designed specifically to the unique needs of these businesses.  Below is a list of six coverages most non-profits will need.

General Liability

General Liability Insurance covers you and your organization from damages done to third parties as a result of the actions of your organization. These can be bodily injury claims and property damage to anyone who is not you or your employee.

Workers’ Compensation

non-profit-workers-compWorkers’ comp differs from General Liability because it protects your business from being liable to injuries that occur to your employees. It is frequently referred to as the ‘Exclusive Remedy”. That is because it will pay for employee medical costs, disabilities, and lost wages related to on-the-job injuries and accidents. Your organization will benefit from this policy by having the security that you will not be sued by your employees for accidents that occur as a part of your normal operations.

Commercial Auto

Commercial auto insurance for your vehicles is an important aspect of any business insurance program. This coverage provides protection against physical damage and bodily injury resulting from car accidents involving you or your employees. Most coverages also provide some protection from theft and vandalism.  Your organization does not have to own any vehicles to need some form of commercial auto coverage. For example, one of the most often overlooked business insurance coverage is Hired and Non-Owned Auto. Almost every business will occasionally utilize a personal, or non-owned vehicle for work related tasks. For example, your organization has an office staff member make trips to the bank to make a deposit of donations. Another example might be sending an employee to the restaurant to pick up food for volunteers. Every time someone uses a vehicle not owned by the non-profit to perform a business related function, the organization is at risk.

Cyber Liability

Most non-profit organizations think they are not at risk of a data breach. Many may think, I am a small organization with not much money, why would anyone bother to hack my organization. That is exactly what two small business owners thought when two of the largest data breaches in history occurred. Both the Home Depot and Target data breaches occurred by hackers first accessing a small business and then that small business had a vendor partnership with the larger business and that is how the hackers gained access.  If you store any information about donors or have a partnership with another organization, you could be at risk of a breach. Most cyber insurance plans can be added to a (BOP) at minimal cost to your organization.

Commercial Property

business-property-valuation-for-commercial-insuranceCommercial property is needed if you own property no matter the size of the premise. This will cover all property, including things like desks, chairs and anything physically attached to the building (i.e. shelvings, cabinets, etc.). Property coverage does not cover some specialized equipment like printers, computers or other office equipment. Coverage for this type of property would be covered under and Inland Marine Insurance Policy. These policies can easily be paired together under what is called a Business Owners Package (BOP). It is usually a good idea to ask your agent to quote a BOP because carriers are more likely to give your organization a discount on premium if you are carrying more than one coverage from them.

Owners and Officer’s

Owners and officer’s coverage might be the most important and frequently overlooked coverage for most non-profit organizations. The people who sit on your board are usually giving their time and expertise for free. Most just believe in you or believe in the mission of the organization. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong with your organization and them be liable for the actions of the organization.

liability-insurance-for-small-businesses Owners and Officers Coverage is for defense costs and damages (awards and settlements) arising out of wrongful act allegations and lawsuits brought against an organization’s board of directors and/or officers. Securing this coverage allows your officers to sit on your board and comfortably know they are not going to be liable for the actions of the organization.

Should I Buy Workers Comp Insurance Online?

Should you buy workers comp insurance online?

Over the last 10 years or so, more and more insurance providers are starting to show up online. Additionally, even many traditional brick and mortar agencies are at least starting to have a website presence. There are many things to look for in a commercial insurance agent. Among the things that first come to mind are adequately protecting your business from risk of loss, providing well-priced insurance and providing good customer service/being available for customers. Online based insurance providers often perform well at many of the things that are important to insurance buyers, but do they provide the same service?

Online insurance providers are typically high volume agencies. That can benefit customers in a number of ways. First, many of these online providers have access to many different insurance carriers which can allow substantial price shopping. Additionally, due to having a high volume, these online providers generally have good relationships with numerous insurance carriers. Those relationships can often be leveraged to benefit clients when appropriate. Furthermore, due to volume, the online providers often have substantial experience and expertise in the coverages they are offering.

Another advantage of online insurance providers is that they tend to be consistently available during business hours. It is often the case that traditional agencies may be more involved in your community and you may not meet your online provider face to face. However, due to their business model, online providers are typically available in their office during most business hours, which generally allows customer needs to be met promptly. Additionally, online providers are typically licensed in all states, so they are generally set-up to help if out of state insurance needs arise.

With workers’ comp insurance, most of the benefits are determined by statute/laws in particular states. Thus, if a reputable carrier is used and information and business information is fully disclosed, most business owners should be able to be confident that their business is adequately protected by the insurance they purchase. With other lines of insurance, like general liability and professional liability, it is possibly more important to establish a level of trust with your insurance provider. It is important to make sure your business information is reviewed, so that coverage gaps can be analyzed to make sure your business is protected. Establishing this level of trust can often be done over the phone as well as it can be done in person.

Another thing to consider is that online insurance providers may be more closely aligned with the direction of the insurance industry. Many insurance carriers are continuing to develop more and more technology. Online insurance providers are generally also tech savvy. They focus on technology development and utilization. Online agencies may be better able to pass on carrier technology to their clients, while also providing their own technology to clients.  All of this is designed to make issues related to business insurance more efficient for you the business owner.

There are numerous reasons it may be beneficial to consider buying workers’ comp and other business insurance online. Prices are often very competitive. Online providers are generally available for customers and generally have substantial expertise in the insurance products they provide. Additionally, online providers are typically among the most tech savvy agencies in the industry, which is in line with marketplace trends and benefits customers. There are many things to consider in choosing an insurance provider, but online providers stack up well in many factors which are typically considered.