Know what insurance coverage is pertinent for your organization
By Sierra Ball
Insurance is a necessity, whether you own and operate a new or an existing business. Many people, however, are unfamiliar with state requirements and how to protect their organization when liability issues arise. And for small and new businesses protecting their assets (i.e. their business) is extremely important.
Owners should recognize and understand the “must haves” in insurance, what additional policies or information should be considered now and in the future, and know how to select an agent that will work with your best interests in mind. Here are some general guidelines to follow; note this is not a comprehensive list. The best method to select proper insurance coverage for your unique circumstances is to work directly with a licensed agent.
MUST HAVES …
Commercial general liability insurance – provides financial protection for your business in the event of claims, lawsuits or settlements. These may arise as the result of injuries or property damage connected with your business pursuits, or even non-physical acts like slander or libel. General liability is a vital component of business insurance.
Business property content coverage – protects your business assets: inventory, tools, computers, and other equipment.
Workers compensation – is required by law. Any business with more than two employees must have this coverage for full-time, part-time, seasonal employees, as well as student interns, minors and working family members. This insurance protects employees under state laws and provides medical care, death, disability, rehabilitation benefits and lost wages for workers who are injured or killed on the job.
Commercial auto policy – is a vehicle insurance policy which provides both liability and physical damage coverage for a business’ vehicles and their drivers. Within the policy, hired and nonowned auto coverage should be purchased as well. Nonowned auto coverage protects your business should it be sued due to an automobile accident while one of your employees is on company related travel in a personal vehicle. Hired auto can either supplement, or replace, a car rental agency’s liability coverage when your company leases a vehicle.
CONSIDER HAVING …
Cybersecurity and data breach coverage – protects client’s credit card information and for you if you are hacked and need to hire professionals to assist with IT services.
Employee benefit coverage – protects the insured (the business owner) in the event it fails to administer 401k, health insurance or any other employee benefit in a manner that causes a loss to the employee.
Umbrella policy – is additional liability coverage over all other insurance policies your organization may carry. This is good to have as your business grows and engages in larger projects.
SELECTING AN INSURANCE AGENT …
Chose someone with a high level of experience. An agent with experience will have the knowledge base to guide you on what you actually need to cover against loss.
Select a trustworthy agent. The person you select needs to be available to assist you, protect your assets, understand what is available for your industry, and educate you on what is really necessary coverage to have in case a situation arises.
Opt for excellent customer service. This ensures the agent(s) you select answer the phone, have an office you may visit, explain options to you in a manner you understand, and offer what you really need to meet the needs of your organization.
Consider an independent agent. Independents tend to provide a broader range of insurance coverage and pricing options because they are not limited to one specific insurance company’s offerings.
Obtain an annual review. This is important as they will evaluate changes in your business, any new insurance liability exposures or increased needs based upon your organizational growth. Annual reviews are best completed 30-60 days prior to the end of a policy (most all insurance options are offered in a 12 month policy arrangement). The annual review should consist of analyzing increase or decrease in receipts, and any other content, vehicle, employee changes which may affect the type of coverage your business requires.
Remember, owning and operating a small business is difficult and rewarding. Protect yourself and your operation by obtaining valuable, reliable information on regarding essential insurance coverage that is mandated by law and will help you in the event of a liability issue.
What is liability insurance? Policy that covers civil liabilities to third parties, arising from bodily injury, property damage, or other wrongs due to the action or inaction of the insured. It covers only civil liabilities and not criminal liabilities. (source: businessdictionary.com)
About the author:
Sierra Ball is the owner of Siquin Insurance Services located at 32 Waterloo Street #207. She has 20 years of insurance experience and has owned and operated her insurance business since April of 2016. She is an independent insurance agent specializing in small businesses. For more information regarding Siquin Insurance Services, please call 540-359-6631 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).