One of the keys to managing risks when you first start a business is getting the right insurance to cover your operations, property and potential liabilities.
Unfortunately, many business owners fail to update their policies and just renew them year after year even if the company has grown, expanded operations and facilities, and added new equipment and property. If this is the case, the old coverage would be insufficient.
Business owners should review their policies every year to catch any omissions and make sure they are not underinsured. It is common for smaller businesses to secure a basic business owner’s policy (BOP) and workers’ comp when they first get started. A BOP includes:
- Property insurance for buildings and contents owned by the company.
- Business interruption insurance, which covers the loss of income resulting from a fire or other catastrophe that disrupts the operation of the business.
- Liability protection, which covers your company’s legal responsibility for the harm it may cause to others. This harm is a result of things that you and your employees do or fail to do in your business operations that may cause bodily injury or property damage due to defective products, faulty installations and errors in services provided.
Outgrowing BOP coverage
As your business expands, you may outgrow the BOP and need additional coverage to manage your risks. Some examples include the following:
- Workers’ comp. While you likely added a workers’ comp policy when you made your first hire, you will need to update it as you add more staff. If you don’t, when your insurer audits you, you may face a hefty bill for additional premium. Be diligent about your policy and inform your insurer as you grow.
- Excess umbrella or liability coverage. You should consider this insurance to cover claims that exceed your BOP’s limit, providing you with an added layer of protection to protect your assets.
- Professional liability insurance. These policies provide coverage for mistakes for any professional services you provide. This used to be mainly for doctors, attorneys and accountants, but as our service sector has expanded it includes services provided by coders and software developers, appraisers, consultants, real estate brokers, graphic designers and home inspectors, among others.
- Auto, non-owned and hired coverage. This protects business owners if an employee has an accident while driving a rental or personal vehicle on the job.
- Employment practices liability insurance. This covers human resources issues related to discrimination, harassment and termination.
- Commercial auto insurance. This coverage protects autos that are not under a personal policy.
- Directors and officers liability coverage. This protects officers and directors in the event they are sued for wrongful acts while on duty.
Depending on the business, some or most of these insurance options may be required for adequate protection. Annual reviews with us are ideal for discussing your options. Make sure these elements are considered:
- If computers, equipment or other types of property have been added, this would be reason to increase policy limits.
- While revenue is an important consideration, it is also important to remember that it is a potential liability.
- A general liability or BOP may be affected if the owner has moved, added or closed locations.
- Hired and non-hired auto insurance is necessary if workers are driving frequently in rented vehicles.
- For specific types of work and services, employers may need additional endorsements for their general liability policies.
- People who are serving new industries or clients may have problems with their professional liability coverage if they have large amounts of high-risk industries or customers.
- If you experience an increase in the number of workers you have, or there is a higher turnover rate, it is important to think about employment practices liability coverage. And as mentioned, your workers’ comp policy should be updated to reflect any staffing changes and that you categorize your workers properly.