Whether you’re just starting your business or you're a well-seasoned entrepreneur, keeping your business running smoothly requires successfully keeping all your balls in the air at once. Some of the most important tasks -- like keeping your business adequately insured -- are the most tedious and time-consuming. And while most businesses operate with some sort of insurance (it's a must), it's crucial to stay up-to-date on all your coverage options. This will ensure your business has proper protection from every angle. Use this guide to the 5 types of business insurance every business owner needs to consider to check off a few more boxes on your to-do list today.
What Does Business Insurance Cover and Why Do I Need It?
Generally, you buy into an insurance plan by paying a monthly premium. This plan covers the various risks faced by a business during the course of operation. As a business owner, you need to protect your investments from several angles, including your finances, physical equipment and property and, if you’re an innovator or creative, your intellectual property. Different types of business insurance will cover different things.
5 Types of Business Insurance You Need but Might Not Have
There is a wide variety of business insurance coverage policies to consider:
- Commercial liability insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Workers’ compensation
- Commercial auto insurance
1: General Liability Insurance
If you’re looking to buy the best business insurance, but could only pick 1 type, general liability insurance may be the way to go. General liability insurance is a policy that protects companies. In what way? General liability insurance protects your business in case of the following:
- Property damage
- Bodily injury
- Reputational harm
- Advertising injury
- Copyright infringement
Liability claims are part of running a business, so it’s best to be prepared. These claims can be a hefty expense for a small business owner if they don’t have insurance to cover the claim. Without a general liability cover, you may have to pay these claims out of your business profits or even your own pocket. Who needs general liability insurance? While state laws don’t always require that business owners have it, not investing in general liability insurance increases a business's financial risk and vulnerability. Well-meaning businesses or partners will also want to make sure that you have met this minimum business operation requirement before they can agree to do business with you. In most cases, you will be asked to provide a certificate of insurance as proof. Consider buying general liability insurance if you:
- Are active on social media
- Advertise and create marketing materials for your company
- Handle or work in close proximity to client property
- Have a store, office, a business that is open to clients, vendors and the public
2: Professional Liability Insurance
Professional liability insurance covers you and your business in case of mistakes while offering professional services. The other name for this insurance cover is errors and omissions insurance (E&O). In other countries, it is known as professional indemnity insurance. So what does this insurance cover?
- Inaccurate advice
You might not commit any error, but still, a client may sue you if they believe that you made a mistake. This coverage ensures you do not have to put your personal assets on the line. Do note that professional liability does not cover everything. Some of the claims this insurance does not cover are bodily harm, property damage, data breach and work-related injuries or illness. Different types of businesses require professional liability insurance and even in some states, it is a requirement. You will want to get this insurance coverage if you:
- Regularly act as an advisor to your clients
- Offer professional services directly
- Sign contracts requiring you to carry coverage
3: Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property, as the name suggests, is the insurance that covers commercial property. With this cover, commercial property is protected from theft, fire, and natural disasters. Businesses that can benefit from this insurance are service-oriented businesses, retailers, and non-profit organizations. Commercial property is usually bundled with other types of insurance. This insurance covers the following:
Who should consider buying commercial property insurance? You should consider getting this cover if you:
- Own manufacturing or processing equipment
- Have sensitive and essential accounting records and company documents
- Value your office equipment such as furniture and computers
- Have stock inventory
As an entrepreneur, consider your business as your pet which needs the best pet insurance. As a matter of fact, people do also get insurance cover for their pets, so why not do the same for your business?
4: Worker’s Compensation Insurance
Worker’s compensation insurance allows your employees to get compensated due to work-related illness or injuries. There is no walking out of this one since this insurance is mandatory in most states. The responsibility is left to the employers to provide this insurance for their employees. What are some of the benefits reaped from worker’s compensation insurance?
- Death and funeral services
- Medical treatments
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Disability benefits
It should be noted that not every insurance company offers similar worker's compensation policies. The state fund worker's compensation plan is the general standard in the insurance industry. Some insurance may offer an extended cover. The benefits and coverage requirements may vary from state to state. Worker's compensation insurance mutually benefits the employee and the employer. The benefits help your employees recover lost wages while they recover and are unable to work. Their medical expenses are covered, while if the employee passes away, their family gets the benefits. It should be noted that health insurance does not cover work-related injuries and illnesses.
Does worker’s comp cover pain and suffering for employees? It usually doesn’t cover that. Worker’s compensation claims are typically just for injury settlements for lost wages and medical bills. However, there may be extremely unusual instances where it would be covered. The state in which your company is located determines the kind of worker's compensation insurance you offer. So what if yours is 1099? 1099 contractors do not require coverage, but it is still best practice to ensure you have your workers' best interests protected. This is good for your optics too. Another angle to this is that suppose your contractor or worker is not covered and they get sick or injured while at work. They could sue you. Worker's compensation insurance is cheaper than legal fees.
5: Data Breach Insurance
Do you run a small business? If yes, then you are prone to facing risks such as injuries or property damage. Apart from this kind of damage, some risks come as a result of integrating technology into your business operations. It could be hacking or data breaches. To be able to mitigate these technology-related risks, most businesses have turned to cyber insurance. There is also data breach insurance which helps businesses offer sufficient protection and response to breaches. Why does your business need data breach coverage? Cybersecurity is a serious concern. Hackers are able to hack computer systems and go for personal information. The coverages help if you need to protect company reputation, your computer systems get a virus that exposes private information, customers sue you due to the personal information being leaked, etc. Does your business need data breach insurance? Well, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you collect, store or receive personally identifiable information (PII) or personal health information (PHI)?
- Do you work in an industry with regulations on how to handle customer information?
- What would you do if your business became the next data breach victim?
Bonus: Commercial Umbrella Insurance
Commercial umbrella insurance is the sort of cover that comes to your rescue when paying for some costs that exceed what your liability policy allows. This means that without this insurance cover, you will be forced to pay out of pocket. Some of the covers that normally exceed what is allowed include:
- Medical bills
- Legal fees
- Damage to another’s property
- Judgments and settlements
Commercial umbrella insurance tops up what you have in your general liability policy. This insurance cover should be purchased by businesses by businesses that have high levels of interaction with clients. The risks are even higher if employees use dangerous equipment or heavy machinery. Commercial umbrella insurance helps if you are working on someone else's property or you allow the public to visit during open hours. Where people are involved, anything can happen, so don't wait for it to take place. Be reactive and purchase insurance coverage for the same.
Choose the Right Insurance for Your Business
The nature and location of your business determine what type of insurance the law demands of you. Most states require businesses to have worker's compensation insurance. In some states, the regulations depend on the industry. For example, accountants could get professional liability insurance. As a business owner, make sure that you are well acquainted with your state business insurance laws and regulations. You can hire insurance agencies to help you comply with regulations and customize insurance policies that are in sync with your needs and budget. Get recommendations on the types of business insurance that you may need.