What Basic Insurance Does a Business Need?
Per the Insurance Information Institute, most businesses need, at a minimum, four types of coverage: property insurance, liability insurance, business vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.
1. Commercial Property Insurance
Property insurance covers (you guessed it) the property your business operates out of and any vital items inside (think office furniture, equipment, the products in stock, computers, etc.). Property insurance provides compensation if the covered location or items are lost, damaged or stolen. Note: It’s a good idea to carry business property insurance even if you’re operating out of your garage or home office, since your homeowners’ insurance likely doesn’t provide adequate coverage — even if you add a rider that covers business property losses.
2. Liability Insurance
Liability insurance protects you in the event your business gets sued for negligence. Liability insurance covers legal expenses, damages (should you lose the case) and medical bills incurred by someone hurt by your business.
There are specialized types of liability insurance you might need, again, depending on the size and scope of your business. That includes professional liability insurance — commonly known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O) — which covers you against malpractice. (So physicians or lawyers, for instance, would likely opt for an E&O policy.) There’s also specialized product liability insurance designed to cover you if a defective product causes someone harm.
3. Business Vehicle Insurance
This policy covers any vehicles you use for operations. Keep in mind, you likely need business vehicle insurance, even if the only ride you’re using is your own. Most standard auto insurance policies won’t cover cars used primarily for business.
4. Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages if an employee is injured on the job. Laws vary by state, but almost all of them (excluding Texas) require hiring businesses to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Most companies are also required by law to pay unemployment insurance taxes. And, in some states, you’ll need disability insurance if you have employees as well. The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests visiting your local Workers’ Compensation Office to find out exactly what insurance your state requires.
By Jeanine Skowronski
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