Every business needs some type of insurance coverage to protect its assets and be covered for potential liabilities. Finding the right type of insurance your specific business needs, and the types of insurance available is a conversation to have with your insurance agent or broker. Your agency can also advise you on the exact amount of insurance you should consider purchasing according to your business size and volume.
Here are some basic insurance definitions the Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends for small businesses and their definitions.
General Liability Insurance
Business owners purchase general liability insurance to cover legal hassles due to accident, injuries and claims of negligence. These policies protect against payments as the result of bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, libel, slander, the cost of defending lawsuits, and settlement bonds or judgments required during an appeal procedure.
Product Liability Insurance
Companies that manufacture, wholesale, distribute, and retail a product may be liable for its safety. Product liability insurance protects against financial loss as a result of a defect product that causes injury or bodily harm. The amount of insurance you should purchase depends on the products you sell or manufacture. A clothing store would have far less risk than a small appliance store, for example.
Professional Liability Insurance
Business owners providing services should consider having professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance). This type of liability coverage protects your business against malpractice, errors, and negligence in provision of services to your customers. Depending on your profession, you may be required by your state government to carry such a policy. For example, physicians are required to purchase malpractice insurance as a condition of practicing in certain states.
Commercial Property Insurance
Property insurance covers everything related to the loss and damage of company property due to a wide-variety of events such as fire, smoke, wind and hail storms, civil disobedience and vandalism. The definition of “property” is broad, and includes lost income, business interruption, buildings, computers, company papers and money.
Property insurance policies come in two basic forms:
(1) all-risk policies covering a wide-range of incidents and perils except those noted in the policy;
(2) peril-specific policies that cover losses from only those perils listed in the policy. Examples of peril-specific policies include fire, flood, crime, and business interruption insurance. All-risk policies generally cover risks faced by the average small business, while peril-specific policies are usually purchased when there is high risk of peril in a certain area. Consult your insurance agent or broker about the type of business property insurance best suited for your small business.
Home-Based Business Insurance
Contrary to popular belief, homeowners’ insurance policies do not generally cover home-based business losses. Depending on risks to your business, you may add riders to your homeowners’ policy to cover normal business risks such as property damage. However, homeowners’ policies only go so far in covering home-based businesses and you may need to purchase additional policies to cover other risks, such as general and professional liability.
One final suggestion: Find a broker or agent that speaks your language of preference and explain them your needs. It always feels better to trust someone who knows in detail the way we conduct business in our community and, at the same time, is familiar with the US law requirements to protect your business and your livelihood.