Commercial Insurance FAQs
Long-term profitability also depends on effective risk management. Without a forward-thinking, comprehensive risk management strategy, even the most successful businesses may unknowingly expose their profits to unpredictable, perhaps disastrous, loss.
- Is insurance coverage different for different businesses?
- I’m just getting my business started. Do I need insurance right away?
- Everybody seems to be suing everybody else these days. What if someone sues my business?
- What types of property insurance should I consider buying?
- Who decides how much my business property is worth?
Is insurance coverage different for different businesses?
It can be. Many small businesses are now insured under package policies that cover the major property and liability exposures as well as loss of income. A common package policy used by many small businesses is called the Business Owners Policy (BOP). Generally, these package policies provide the small-business owner more complete coverage at a lower price than separate policies for each type of insurance needed.
We can help you decide which policy or policies are right for your business. Additional coverage for property, liability, perils or conditions otherwise excluded (e.g., flood protection) can be purchased as endorsements to a standard policy or as a separate, second policy. Because businesses vary, it is impossible to have a standard policy to cover all contingencies. Also, some businesses, regardless of their size, do not fit the profile of a standard business owners policy. For example, restaurants, wholesalers and garages have special liability needs that are not met in the standard business owners policy. We can advise you of the best policy (or policies) to protect you and your business.
I’m just getting my business started. Do I need insurance right away?
Yes, because the chance that you could suffer a loss begins with the first day of business. You can’t get help after the fact. If you suffer a loss and have no insurance or have improper or insufficient coverage, there is very little, if anything, we can do to help you. You must be prepared for the risks that are inherent in any business and the losses, sometimes catastrophic, that they can cause. Also, many states and local jurisdictions require that businesses be insured to begin operating. And, if you rent space for your business, your landlord probably requires that you be adequately insured as well.
Everybody seems to be suing everybody else these days. What if someone sues my business?
No business can afford to be unprepared for a lawsuit. General liability insurance protects your business assets when the business is sued for something the business did (or failed to do) that contributed to injury or property damage to someone else. Liability coverage extends not only to paying damages but also to the attorneys’ fees and other costs involved in defending against the lawsuit – whether valid or not.
Usually excluded from general liability insurance policies are suits by customers against a business for nonperformance of a contract and by employees charging wrongful termination, racial or gender discrimination, or harassment. For this coverage businesses should purchase professional liability coverage and employee related practices coverage.
Check with us about the best liability protection covering all types of situations that may arise in your business.
What types of property insurance should I consider buying?
The best thing to do is to take a complete inventory of all your business property, determine the value and decide if each is worth insuring. Then check to see that the items on the inventory list are included in the basic business property policy and covered for the correct amount. If not, ask us about the cost of purchasing additional coverage to meet your needs.
You also need to consider your business situation. Are you planning a major expansion? Does your inventory have a decidedly peak season? Or does it fluctuate throughout the year? Is your liability limit high enough in light of the new job contract you just signed? Business policies are designed to be added to or subtracted from to meet your needs. Be sure to discuss changes to your business with us so that we can be sure your policy still provides adequate coverage. Some common additional coverages for business property include (although this list is by no means all-inclusive):
Boiler and Machinery Insurance
Even if you do not own a boiler, you may need this coverage. The term “boiler and machinery insurance” is gradually being replaced with terms such as “equipment breakdown” or “mechanical breakdown” coverage. This insurance provides coverage against the sudden and accidental breakdown of boilers, machinery or equipment, including computer systems and telephones/communication systems. Coverage usually includes reimbursement for property damage, expediting expenses (e.g., express transportation charges), and business interruption losses.
Builders Risk Coverage
Covers buildings in the course of construction. Depending on the policy, this coverage can be for either the building’s value at the time of the loss or its full value at the time of completion.
Commercial Crime Coverages
Covers money and securities, stock and fixtures against theft, burglary and robbery both on and off the insured premises and from both employees and outsiders.
Provides coverage for glass breakage such as store windows and plate glass on office fronts.
Inland Marine Insurance
Primarily covers property in transit such as from warehouse to warehouse or warehouse to retail store, as well as other people’s property left on your business premises, such as clothes left at a dry cleaning business or an employer’s personal effects left in the company locker room.
Who decides how much my business property is worth?
Property insurance can be purchased on the basis of the property’s actual value, on its replacement cost, or on an agreed amount. The differences between the three are:
Actual Cash Value
The replacement cost of the item minus depreciation. For example, a new desk may cost $500. If your seven-year-old desk gets damaged in a fire, it might have depreciated 50 percent. Therefore, you would be paid $250 for it.
The cost of replacing an item without deducting for depreciation. So today’s cost for a desk of a size and construction similar to the seven-year-old one damaged by fire would determine the amount of compensation. If it costs $500 today, that would be the replacement coverage.
Art objects, antiques and other unique items are usually insured at an amount agreed upon when the policy is being written. An appraiser values the goods to be insured and the business owner and the insurer agree upon an amount that the insurer will pay if the goods are destroyed due to a covered peril. Check your policy. If you prefer replacement coverage and do not already have it, this coverage can be added to your policy. Inflation-guard coverage, which automatically increases your insurance amount a certain percentage, protects against rising construction costs. We can advise you of the costs involved.