Your small business may benefit from a business owner’s policy at a minimum, although other coverage can protect specific industry risks. While any policy will set you back at least a few hundred dollars per year, it could save your financial standing in the face of damage or a lawsuit.
Your business can face expensive costs for damage or pain and suffering if your managers or employees make errors. Every business faces risks of some kind. You should consider how to prepare so that damage doesn’t cause steep financial losses to the precious business you’ve built.
Risks your business faces:
Physical illness or injury. A customer, employee or innocent bystander may suffer injuries your business or employees inflicted. Your business might also damage another person’s property, such as a car or building.
Physical damage to your business. Natural disasters like flooding and earthquakes may swoop in with damage to your building or customer goods. In addition, thieves might break in your shop or building and steal valuable items.
Advertising or personal injury. Your business could breach copyright laws, use misleading advertising or get accused of slandering someone else’s reputation.
Lawsuits filed against your business. Your business could face a court case because of negligence or mistakes on your company’s part. You’ll pay for defense and court fees, whether the accusation is true or not.
Do I need business insurance if I had to furlough my employees?
Whether your employees are temporarily furloughed or not they’re technically still employees — you’ll still want protection for lawsuits, personal illnesses and injuries or damage to your business property.
Compare small business insurance
What types of insurance do small businesses need?
The most common coverage for small businesses include the business owner’s policy, commercial car insurance and workers’ compensation. However, your small business could benefit from a variety of coverage, depending on your needs.
The most common types of small business insurance
Most small businesses start with these types of policies:
General liability protects your business if a customer or visitor gets injured or receives damage to their property because of your business’s negligence. It can also include some coverage for advertising errors and liability for harm your products cause.
Commercial property covers your buildings, office supplies and equipment, work equipment, and inventory. You’ll receive protection for theft or weather damage that’s stated on your policy.
Business interruption pays expenses for lost revenue and relocation if your business shuts down for a situation covered under commercial property insurance. This coverage is an add-on, not a standalone policy.
Business owner’s policy wraps general liability, property and business interruption coverage in one neat package for you.
General types of business insurance
As your business grows or accumulates assets, you might consider:
Commercial car insurance protects your business for liability if you or an employee hurts another driver or passenger, damages another car or damages someone else’s property. It can also protect physical harm to business vehicles or goods in transit.
Workers’ compensation covers your employees if they get injured or sick because of workplace conditions. Most states require this coverage if your business employs multiple workers.
Mechanical breakdown coverage helps your business repair or replace equipment used to create revenue.
Cyber insurance protects your business from online data breaches, including attacks to your customer databases, website or internal systems.
Specialty liability insurance for small businesses
Your business may deal with different types of potential liabilities, no matter how big or small. Those liabilities can receive the following coverage:
Employment practices liability safeguards your business from claims your employees make about how you manage employees. That can include hiring, demoting, firing or any type of discrimination.
Professional liability protects your business if services or advice you offer lead to a client’s harm, whether that harm is physical or financial.
Product liability. If your business involves manufacturing or packaging consumer goods, you should consider protection for claims made against your products. Claims can include a defective product that causes injuries or illness to other people.
Public liability protects against similar areas as general liability. But it doesn’t include limited protection for advertising or product liability.
Media liability protects your business against advertising errors made, including copyright laws or misleading advertising. This coverage works well if your business makes regular media appearances or publishes information or advertisements.
What types of insurance do home-based businesses need?
If you own a home-based business or recently moved your business into your home, consider home-based business insurance to cover your business contents or business liabilities while working from home. There are a few ways to get this type of coverage:
Business owner’s policy (BOP). This coverage offers broad protection for business contents, such as your laptop, phone or even the desk or furniture you work from. BOP’s also provide business liability, which offers coverage if you’re sued for business-related reasons. So, if you’re sued after a delivery man sustains an injury while delivering business supplies to your property, you’ll be covered.
Home insurance business coverage add-on. If you plan to purchase this coverage as an add-on you’ll pay less, but you’ll have limited coverage for your business property. Add-ons usually have low maximums for business contents, like $2,500. And, you won’t be covered for any liability risks.
In-home business insurance. Sometimes referred to as microbusiness insurance, some insurers offer a business insurance policy tailored to small businesses. It generally includes the same features as a large commercial policy, but with lower policy limits and a lower monthly premium. You’ll be covered for general liability, business property damages and lost income if you have to shut down because of damage to your house.
How much does small business insurance cost?
The exact premium for your insurance policy depends a lot on the type of coverage you choose. For example, you might pay as low as $30 per month for general liability or $60 a month for a business owner’s policy. If you have a few employees, you might also need workers’ compensation for $150 to $200 per month.
Your premium will depend on a range of factors like:
Industry. You could pay more than other small businesses if you’re in a high-risk industry like construction.
Business size. The number of employees or customers your business has, the higher the chance your insurance company will see a claim against you.
Location. Your location could pose extra risks for theft, damage or vehicle collisions if you’re located in a high crime or otherwise high-risk spot. Also, you might pay less than other businesses if you’re simply adding home-based business coverage to your home insurance.
Annual limits. The maximum amount you choose for insurance to pay on claims can affect how much you pay for premiums.
Annual income. The more money your company brings in, the more you have to insure, and the higher your insurance premiums.
How much small business insurance do I need?
With some careful planning and consulting, your business can find the right amount of coverage to suit its needs. Follow these steps to find that perfect amount:
Consider the dangers your business faces. You might write an initial list of damage or lawsuits your business could face. Note risky areas because of expensive claims or areas your business is exposed to every day.
Determine how much risk you can shoulder. Consider whether your business can pay for court cases or settlements on its own. Or determine how large a deductible your business can afford.
Look at your budget. Understand how much your business can pay for insurance. Then look at ways to stretch those dollars with as much coverage as possible.
Consult an insurance representative. Representatives for business insurers or insurance brokers can offer their advice about which types of insurance you’ll need. Many top companies also offer risk advisors who can assess the risks your business faces.
Weigh your options. Once you gather all the information for your decision, you can look at multiple insurance companies who offer the benefits and coverage you need.
Your small business might need basic types of coverage or specialized policies like professional or media liability if your work faces those risks. Once you’ve identified which coverage you need, you can look at business insurance providers with the features that best suit you.
Common questions about small business insurance
The requirements vary by state. However, most states require businesses to offer workers’ compensation when they employ three or five workers. A few states have exclusions, such as not including the business owner, partners or immediate family to determine whether you need workers’ compensation.
In general, businesses are required to prove they offer health insurance if:
They employ more than 50 full-time employees, as defined by the federal government.
They self-insure their own health insurance.
They are a health insurance business.
However, always check current healthcare laws to make sure no special requirements apply to your business.
No, small businesses with less than 50 full-time employees are not required to pay the employer responsibility for health insurance.
Freelancers or sole proprietors should consider severaltypes of insuranceto protect their finances since paying for damage comes out of their own pocket. Depending on the industry, that insurance may include:
Home-based business property — added to home insurance
Equipment or mechanical breakdown coverage
Yes, you should consider liability insurance even if your business is classified as an LLC. The classification simply means you can’t be held personally responsible for damage caused by your business or debts your business owns.
However, your business can still face lawsuits that could take a heavy financial toll. Also, you can be held personally responsible for your own actions related to the business.
Sarah George is a writer at Finder who unravels complicated topics about insurance, business and finance. She's been wordsmithing for nearly five years, after earning an English education degree. Her insurance know-how has been featured on CarInsurance.com. You can usually find Sarah sipping hot tea and talking through movie plots in her downtime.
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