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Business & Commercial Insurance Information
Many risks, many coverages.
A business insurance guide
We created this guide to break down the different risks you could face in your business with an outline of the different business insurance coverages you might want to consider. We also provided you with a claims example for each coverage so you can see how it all works
Protect your building and business property
Commercial property insurance WHAT IS IT? This coverage protects your business’s building, furniture and equipment, fence and landscaping, inventory and outdoor signage. In other words, this policy can cover buildings and business property (the contents of the buildings). You can add additional endorsements to a commercial property policy for even more protection. For instance, you can add an endorsement that covers the cost of updating a damaged building to comply with current building codes if the cause of the damage was covered in your insurance policy. This is called ordinance or law coverage.
WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? A men’s retail clothing store owner would purchase commercial property insurance to protect his building, outdoor signs and merchandise. He could make a claim if, for example, a fire destroyed his building and merchandise or if a storm damaged his outdoor signage.
Protect your building and business property Equipment breakdown insurance WHAT IS IT? This coverage protects against breakdowns in equipment or machinery due to power surges, motor failure, malfunctions and operator errors. It can help pay for the cost to repair or replace the damaged equipment and your loss of business income while the machine is down. This is an important coverage to have even if you don’t own your building, but it can typically be added to a commercial property insurance policy. It generally covers: • Air conditioners and refrigeration systems • Mechanical equipment – motors, engines, generators, etc. • Electrical equipment – transformers, electrical panels and cables • Computers, phones and security systems • Boilers and pressure equipment WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? A printing shop owner might purchase equipment breakdown insurance for his printing equipment. He could file a claim if, for example, a bolt came loose and damaged the printers. Equipment breakdown insurance might pay for the cost of repairs and the loss of income while the printers were down.
Inland marine insurance WHAT IS IT? Despite the confusing name, inland marine insurance refers to coverage for goods, property, materials and equipment that are in transit. Originally, inland marine policies covered goods being transported specifically over water. WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? A photographer might purchase an inland marine policy to cover her photography equipment, including studio lighting, lenses, cameras and accessories, as she transports it to shoot locations. She could make a claim if she was in a bad car accident that damaged some of her photography equipment while she was traveling to a park for a family photo shoot.
Commercial auto and fleet insurance WHAT IS IT? Commercial auto and fleet insurance covers the vehicles you use to conduct business. Coverage includes: • Auto liability – If you cause an accident, this covers injuries to others and physical damage to others’ vehicles or property, including medical costs and legal expenses. • Physical damage (collision and comprehensive insurance) – Collision insurance pays for damage to your vehicle in the event that you hit another vehicle. Comprehensive insurance pays for damage to your vehicle from causes other than an accident, such as theft, fire, collisions with animals or damage from storms. • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage – This pays for your injuries or damage to your vehicle if you’re hit by someone who doesn’t carry insurance or doesn’t carry enough insurance to cover those costs. You can often expand commercial auto coverage to include new vehicle replacement cost coverage, gap insurance, rental reimbursement and other types of endorsements. WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? A plumber might purchase commercial auto insurance for the van he uses to haul his equipment. He could file a claim if a tree fell on the van during a bad storm or if he were in a fender bender on the way to a client location.
General liability insurance WHAT IS IT? This coverage protects your business from the following: • Claims involving injuries to others or damage to others’ property resulting from your products or accidents on your premises - This policy can cover the costs of out-of-court settlements, litigation and legal judgments. • Personal or advertising injury – This covers your liability for issues such as libel, slander or copyright infringement. WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? A restaurant owner might purchase a general liability insurance policy to cover her business. She could file a claim if, for example, a customer slipped on a wet spot on the floor caused by a spill, sprained his ankle and sued her restaurant for the injury and medical costs. The owner could also file a claim if a customer stepped on a piece of broken glass in the restaurant parking lot and sued her for the medical costs.
Businessowners policy (BOP) WHAT IS IT? A businessowners policy (also known as a BOP) is a package of common coverages. It typically includes commercial property insurance, general liability insurance and business income (also known as business interruption) insurance, which pays for lost income when your business must temporarily shut down due to an event covered in your insurance policy. Some BOPs may have some additional special coverages. Most insurance carriers provide BOPs for businesses in particular industries that are under certain thresholds in employee count and annual sales. WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? An auto services shop owner might purchase a BOP for his business to cover both his property and liability. He could file a claim on the BOP if a customer slipped and fell in the waiting area and sued the auto shop for his medical costs.
Umbrella liability insurance WHAT IS IT? It’s hard to cover yourself for all potential liability risks. That’s why umbrella policies exist: to protect you by providing coverage for certain additional liability claim-related expenses that your underlying liability insurance does not cover. It sits on top of your business auto liability, general liability and/or other liability policies to provide additional protection when the limits of those underlying policies are exhausted. There are two ways umbrella policies work: • Expanding the limit of underlying liability policies - If your general liability policy offers $1 million in coverage per occurrence or $2 million aggregate (total), a $2 million umbrella policy would expand those limits to $3 million per occurrence or $4 million total. • Expanding coverage for certain events or accidents that your underlying policies do not cover. WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? Let’s return to the example of the restaurant owner whose customer slipped and fell or stepped on a piece of broken glass. If that customer ended up with a serious injury and the medical costs and lost wages of the injured customer exceeded the limits of the underlying general liability policy, the umbrella insurance policy could kick in to cover the costs above the general liability limits.
Business income (or business interruption) insurance WHAT IS IT? Business income insurance, also known as business interruption insurance, can activate if your business must temporarily shut down due to a covered property loss. It helps to replace lost income, pay for fixed expenses (e.g., mortgage, taxes and payroll) and pay for relocation and advertising expenses if you have to temporarily relocate your business. Some business income coverage is usually rolled into a businessowners policy (BOP). You can also choose to add it to a commercial property policy. You can often enhance basic business income coverage with endorsements such as extra expense coverage (to cover expenses beyond normal operating costs that you may face because of the temporary shutdown). WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? Returning to the commercial property example, if the retail shop owner whose shop burned down in a fire also had business income coverage, he could file a business income claim to help cover his fixed costs. This may help with the mortgage on his business property and payroll for his salaried managers, while his property policy would help pay for the property to be rebuilt.
Professional liability (errors and omissions) insurance WHAT IS IT? General liability policies only cover claims from bodily injury, property damage and personal or advertising injury. But if you provide a service to clients for a fee and make a mistake that ends up costing your client more time and money to fix, your general liability policy won’t provide coverage. Errors that result in a personal loss to your client are covered instead by errors and omissions insurance. This type of insurance shields you from customers’ claims, even if a claim is thrown out of court. You still accrue legal fees and other related expenses defending yourself. WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? A florist might have professional liability insurance on her businessowners policy. She could file a claim if, for example, she delivered an incorrect flower order for a wedding, causing the wedding party to claim damages against her.
Workers’ compensation WHAT IS IT? Workers’ compensation insurance pays the medical costs and replaces a percentage of wages for employees who are injured or become ill on the job. It is a required coverage in all states except Texas, although laws and requirements vary by state. WHAT MIGHT A CLAIM LOOK LIKE? Workers’ compensation claims can vary greatly. The majority of cases are minor, such as cuts or sprains that can be treated by local urgent care centers and do not result in employees missing time from work. A smaller number of workers’ compensation claims are due to severe injuries that can require surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, such as a heavy piece of equipment falling on an employee in a manufacturing facility. When you have a workers’ compensation policy, your workers are covered for all of it.