Tips for Buying Business Insurance
Running a small business involves a significant investment. Business insurance protects your investment by minimizing financial risks associated with unexpected events such as a death of a partner, an injured employee, a lawsuit, or a natural disaster. Unless you are an employer, business insurance is generally not required by law, however, it is common practice to purchase enough insurance to cover your assets. If your business is an LLC or a corporation, your personal assets are protected from business liabilities; however, neither business structure is a substitute for liability insurance, which covers your business from losses.
Your state government determines insurance requirements for businesses. Most states require businesses with employees to pay for workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and state disability insurance. Specifically, every Massachusetts employer is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. Refer to M.G.L. Chapter 152, Section 25A. An employer may be an individual, partnership, joint venture, corporation, limited liability company, association, or a fiduciary such as a trustee, receiver or executor, or other legal entity. Your state may require insurance of specific business activities. For example, if you own a car or truck and use it for business purposes, you may be required to purchase commercial auto insurance. Finally, your financial lender or investors may require you to maintain life, business interruption, fire, flood or other types of insurance to protect their investments.
Tips for Buying Business Insurance
Assess Your Risks
Insurance companies determine the level of risk they’ll accept when issuing policies. This process is called underwriting. The insurance company reviews your application and determines whether it will provide all or a portion of the coverage being requested. Each underwritten policy carries a premium and a deductible. A premium is the price you pay for insurance.
Premiums vary widely among insurance companies, and depend on a number risk factors, including your business location, building type, local fire protection services, and the amount of insurance you purchase. A deductible is the amount of money you agree when making a claim. Generally, the higher deductible you agree to pay, the lower your premium will be. However, when you agree to take on a high deductible you are taking on some financial risk. So, it’s important to assess your own risks before you go shopping.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses provides information for choosing insurance to help you assess your risks and to make sure you’ve insured every aspect of your business.
Consider a Business Owners’ Policy
Insurance can be purchased separately or in a package called a business owners’ policy (BOP). Purchasing separate policies from different insurers can result in higher total premiums. A BOP combines typical coverages into a standard package, and offered at a premium that is less than if each type of coverage was purchases separately. Typically, BOPs consist of cover property, general liability, vehicles, business interruption and other types of coverage common to most types of businesses. BOPs simplify the insurance buying process and can save you money. However, make sure you understand the extent of coverage in any BOP you are considering. Not every type of insurance is included in a BOP. If your business has unique risks, you may require additional coverage.
Find a Reputable, Licensed Agent
Commercial insurance brokers can help you find policies that match your business needs. Brokers receive commissions from insurance companies when they sell policies, so it’s important you find a broker that is reputable and is interested in your needs as much as his own. Make sure your broker understands all the risks associated with your business.
Finding a good insurance agent is as important as finding a good lawyer or accountant. You should always look for one that has a license. State governments regulate the insurance industry and license insurance brokers.
ASSESS YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE ON AN ANNUAL BASIS
As your business grows, so do your liabilities. You don’t want to be caught underinsured should disaster strike. If you have purchased or replaced equipment or expanded operations, you should contact your insurance broker to discuss change in your business and how they affect your coverage.