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, your RSS agent 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 especially workers compensation insurance. And if you rent space for your business, your landlord probably requires that you be adequately insured as well.
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. Your RSS agent can help you decide which policy or policies are right for your business. Additional coverage for property, liability or perils or conditions otherwise excluded (e.g., flood protection) can be purchased as endorsements to a standard policy or as a separate, second policy.
What types of property do I need to insure?
Your business may not possess all the following types of property, but you can use this list to make sure that you have considered all the property categories and any insurance coverage that may be warranted:
- Buildings and other structures (owned or leased)
- Furniture, equipment and supplies
- Money and securities
- Records of accounts receivable
- Improvements and betterments you made to the premises
- Data processing equipment and media (including computers)
- Valuable papers, books and documents
- Mobile property such as automobiles, trucks and construction equipment
- Satellite dishes
- Signs, fences, and other outdoor property not attached to a building
- Intangible property (good will, trademarks, etc.)
- Leased equipment
To establish the amount of insurance you need on each, RSS Agency can help you review the types of property you own and their uses.
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 all of its 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 your RSS agent 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 (like a toy store in December)? Or does it fluctuate throughout the year (like a clothing store)? 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 your RSS agent so that he or she can be sure your policy still provides adequate coverage.
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. 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.
The standard businessowners policy provides liability coverage, as does a separate policy known as a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy. Generally, commercial liability insurance, whether purchased in a separate policy or as part of a standard businessowners policy, will cover bodily injury, property damage, personal injury or advertising injury. The medical expenses of a person or persons (other than employees) injured at the business or as a direct result of the operations of the business are also covered (up to a certain limit).
Usually excluded from both types of liability insurance policies are suits by customers against a business for nonperformance of a contract and by employees charging wrongful termination or racial or gender discrimination or harassment.
What is business income coverage?
Business income insurance may reimburse you for ongoing expenses such as utility bills while your business is closed due to a property loss. This coverage also provides your loss of net income that you would have earned if a covered cause of property loss had not occurred. This coverage may also cover losses due to down time or extra expenses needed to restore operations (such as additional property rental expense).
Will I need to protect my employees in the event they are injured on the job?
Yes, and in most states there are legal requirements that must be met, and for which you may be responsible. State laws vary, but most states require that you carry some form of workers compensation insurance. This protects the employee and also offers you, the business owner, and some immunity from lawsuit by an injured employee.
What is fire legal coverage?
Fire legal coverage provides coverage for you if you rent a business space and are held responsible for fire damages to that rented space. It does not apply to all business risks.