Every business is different, and therefore the insurance needs of every business are notably different. However, there are practical rules about the general insurance needs of a business.
The Small Business Administration devotes several pages to advising business owners on the types of insurance they can purchase, and suggests that, at a bare minimum, small businesses of varying legal structures should carry liability insurance.
So what does the term “business insurance” cover? While there are a wide variety of types of insurance that fall under this designation, the SBA defines it as insurance that “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.”
Business insurance offers a spectrum of coverage that includes protection for liability issues, property loss, vehicle use, fidelity (such as bonding), workers’ compensation, business interruption insurance, and key person insurance, as well as other less well known options. Here are 10 reasons for you to get business insurance coverage today:
1. You can’t protect yourself from lawsuits happening.
You have great clients. In fact, your clients are the best in the world and they would never sue you. If this mindset sounds familiar to you, you may be erroneously reaching the conclusion that you don’t need business insurance. Lawsuits have many causes and effects. Unfortunately litigation is often used strategically to protect or identify liability.
If the work you do for a client is a part of a larger contract, your client might be obligated to sue you in order to eliminate their liability. In other words, your client may have no other legal option than to initiate a lawsuit against you. Without proper insurance, you might find yourself paying hefty legal fees to defend yourself.
2. You have substantial investments in equipment, property, or inventory.
Most businesses require some sort of infrastructure to keep them moving. A boutique retail location might need significant tenant upgrades or investment in merchandise. A graphic designer or photographer might invest heavily in equipment or technology. A carpenter or artisanal chef will probably have considerable financial investment in necessary tools of the trade. A business insurance policy offers protections that a personal insurance policy will not and may protect your business in case of theft, damage, or other disasters. This type of coverage ensures that your business can replace or repair property in a timely manner.
3. You have contracts with your clients.
Many business owners believe that their contracts are so solid and ironclad that courts of law will be avoided completely. Unfortunately, even arbitration can require costly legal representation or advisement. While responsible business owners will continue to depend on contracts as a method to delineate expectations and agreed-upon outputs, contracts do not solve every conceivable problem. Complications happen and sometimes lawsuits are unavoidable. Business insurance may includes errors and omissions insurance to protect your company in times of need.
4. You had business insurance, but let it lapse.
Due to other priorities, you let your coverage lapse. Gaps in coverage are almost bad as no coverage at all. Insurance works best when there are no gaps in coverage. While your efforts and expertise contribute to your success, the reality is that there are too many variables you don’t and can’t control. Insurance protects your business when and if those factors go sideways.
5. You have employees depending on you.
Once you have employees, your responsibilities become more substantial and there are types of insurance that your business is legally obligated to obtain, including, in most states, workers’ compensations insurance. There are other forms of insurance available to businesses that can protect your employees’ livelihood such as liability insurance, which can offer financial protection by making payment on a judgement, removing the financial burden from the company’s concern.
6. Your business model depends heavily on the experience or knowledge of one person.
Just when you think that insurance offerings could not get any more diverse, you discover key person insurance. This insurance provides assistance if a key employee (such as you as the business owner) becomes ill, injured, or deceased. This insurance product protects the business while the key person recuperates or in the event a search for a successor becomes necessary.
7. You don’t think you have enough assets to make it worthwhile.
In the case of sole proprietorship or even a corporation — this business structure may not completely shield personal assets — you may be on the hook for judgments against your business and those findings can follow and hinder you until they are paid or discharged. Even with limited assets, a determined assignee could wreak havoc on your credit, making it difficult to begin anew.
8. You want peace of mind.
You’re a pretty lucky person and you don’t live in a part of the country where disasters are likely to hit. Unfortunately, wishful thinking does not provide as much coverage as a real plan. There are many factors outside of your control and the best way to assure peace of mind is to take responsible action. An experienced agent can help you discern what is vital and essential for the longevity of your business.
9. You want to reduce your business risk.
The main problem with this mentality is that accidents happen. There is simply no way to prevent every possible permutation of calamity from occurring. While an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, the best prevention can be to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Then instead of pouring energy into avoiding the unforeseeable, you can divert that energy into building your business.
10. You are considering securing a loan for your business.
Your company is ready for expansion, but you hit an obstacle when you apply for the business loan that will help you build your venture. Your lender either balks at your business loan application or wants to charge your company an unwarranted interest rate due to your lack of business insurance coverage. Business insurance is an established way of managing risk and demonstrates to lenders that you value protecting your investment over saving a few dollars.
As you can see, there are ample reasons to invest in business insurance. Simply wanting to protect what you’ve built and invested in should be reason enough.
Featured Photo Credit: EDMONTON ALBERTA STREETCAR ADVERTISING PLACARD 1926 —PIC 1 by Jerry “Woody” via Flickr
Featured photo credit: A Better Business/Jo Jakeman via flickr.com