Today we will try to answer the question “Does Your Small Business Need Insurance?”
The short answer is YES.
If you don’t have business insurance you run the risk of losing more than your business. Without the right type of coverage, a fire, theft, accident, or lawsuit could destroy your business and may put your personal finances at risk.
Whether you are starting a business, taking on employees for the first time, or evolving your business structure, there are many variables that determine the right insurance for your small business. Insurance companies differ in the types of business operations they will cover under the various options they offer. So it’s wise to shop around for coverage options as well as price.
Since there are such a wide variety of insurance policies available, always discuss your individual business insurance needs with an insurance agent or broker.
There are two fundamental types of insurance – commercial business insurance, which is not necessarily required by law, and employer insurance, which is. Caron Beesley, a small business owner, writer, and marketing communications consultant, complied this summary:
1. Types of Commercial Business Insurance
- General Liability Insurance – This insurance broadly covers and provides protection against the legal hassles associated with accidents, injuries and claims of negligence.
- Product Liability Insurance – If you manufacture, wholesale, distribute and retail a product, this insurance protects against financial loss as a result of a product defect that can cause injury.
- Professional Liability Insurance – If you provide a service to a customer, this insurance can protect against malpractice, errors, and negligence in the provision of those services to your customers. Some state governments require certain professions (e.g. physicians) to carry such a policy.
- Commercial Property Insurance – This covers everything related to the loss and damage of company property due to a wide variety of events such as fire, smoke, severe weather, vandalism, etc. The definition of ‘property’ is broad, and includes lost income, business interruption, buildings, computers, company papers and money. This is definitely one you should talk to an insurance expert about to understand your specific needs.
2. Insurance Requirements for Employers
If your small business hires employees, you are required by state law to pay for certain types of insurance. Here are the three key employee insurance requirements:
- Workers Compensation Insurance – Businesses with employees are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis, or through the state Workers’ Compensation Insurance program. Visit your state’s Workers’ Compensation Office for more information on your state’s program.
- Unemployment Insurance Tax – If you have employees you are required to pay unemployment insurance taxes as determined by your state. First you’ll need to register your business with your state’s workforce agency. The State Taxes page on IRS.gov includes links to connect you with your state’s agency.
- Disability Insurance – In the U.S., it is mandatory to purchase disability insurance only if your business is in one of six locations – California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island.
Next time we will look at “Five Tips for Buying Business Insurance” from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).