An entrepreneurial business is a risk. Insurance can assist to minimize risk. Lack of appropriate insurance could lead to financial disaster. A basic program includes Commercial General Liability and Property Insurance. Depending on individual circumstance Worker's Compensation, Crime Insurance, Professional Liability/Errors and Omissions, Umbrella Liability, Business Interruption, Executive Risk Insurance, and Personnel Insurance are available. A well-qualified insurance agent (small business experience) can provide valuable assistance in identifying risk exposures and recommend appropriate insurance for your business.

A decision to not purchase insurance is a valid decision if there are adequate assets to sustain operations should an un-insured loss occur. Self-insurance is valid if a self-insured fund is constantly maintained.

If lease or loan agreements or other contracts require certain insurance protection, these contracts should be shared with the Agent for review to assure that legal obligations are satisfied. Talk to your Agent about any laws requiring Insurance.

More than one agent should be interviewed to compare what they recommend and check for competitive prices. It is good practice to use one agent/company for all insurance but this may not be possible. Never use more than one insurance company for the same risk exposure. Doing this can lead to financial problems especially in the event of a loss or claim.

Insurance policies have coverage provisions and exclusions to coverage. It is very important that a new policy is understood and also periodically reviewed to be certain that coverage and related exclusions continue to fit your business needs. Your agent should offer a review annually.

If you operate or sell internationally, be certain proper international insurance is in force. Most insurance is only in force in the United States or Canada unless it is properly endorsed or supplemented by international insurance.

The following is a list of commonly issued insurance coverages.

Liability Insurance

Commercial General Liability pays on behalf of the insured person/organization for liabilities to third parties because of negligent insured acts caused by the insured. This insurance includes the legal costs of defending the insured.


- products and completed operations

- personal injury and advertising

- voluntary medical payments

- contractual liability

- damages to rented or leased real property

- liability for independent and sub contractors

- watercraft under 26 feet in length

- host liquor liability (Note: This coverage does not apply to a business which sells

alcoholic beverages. See Miscellaneous Liability Insurance below)

- non-licensed motorized vehicles

Automobile Liability and Physical Damage pays on behalf of the insured person/organization for liabilities to third parties because of negligent insured acts caused by the insured and pays directly to insured organization for physical damage to insured vehicles. This insurance includes the legal costs of defending the insured.

- owned, hired, rented, leased vehicles and trailers licensed for road use operated in the

United States or Canada

- uninsured motorists

- under- insured motorists

- voluntary medical payments

- physical damage from insured causes other than collision

- collision with another object

- towing and labor expense

Umbrella Liability is commonly used if the insured believes limits of protection provided by the Commercial General Liability, Automobile Liability, or other "Primary Liability Policies" do not provide adequate protection. This insurance includes the legal costs of defending the insured.

- umbrella liability policies normally provide the same type of protection as do the

underlying/primary policies

- if an insured desires high limits of protection it is normally less expensive to use an

Umbrella Policy to do this versus increasing limits on the primary policies to achieve

the same result. A good agent can provide proper advice about this.

- not all primary liability policies are subject to Umbrella liability treatment. This includes

Professional, Errors and Omissions, fiduciary employment practices, Directors and

Officers Liability insurance and Worker's Compensation/ Employer's Liability



Executive Risk Coverage pays on behalf of the insured person/organization for specialized risk exposures. This insurance includes the legal costs of defending the insured.

- directors and officers liability

- employment practices liability

- fiduciary liability

- professional liability

- errors and omissions liability

Miscellaneous Liability insurance is available for many risk exposures. This insurance includes the legal costs of defending the insured.

- liquor liability insurance for business which sell alcoholic beverages.

- marine hull and liability

Aircraft Liability and Hull Insurance insures against negligent operation of the aircraft and reimburses the insured for physical damage to the aircraft itself. When operating a non-owned aircraft, it may be wise to obtain non-owned aircraft liability insurance instead of relying on insurance maintained by the owner. This insurance includes the legal costs of defending the insured.

- liability

- voluntary medical payments

- hull physical damage

Worker's Compensation

Worker's Compensation is mandatory coverage in all states where the insured has operations to pay injured or deceased employee's medical expenses, death benefits, and lost wages in accordance with laws of the State where injury or death occurs. Several states (North Dakota, OHIO, Washington, and Wyoming) operate an exclusive "state fund" and commercial insurance is not available for Worker's Compensation and employer's liability insurance.

- worker's compensation in accordance with law of State

- employer's liability (used if worker does not accept Worker's Compensation benefits and

decides to sue employer)

- "Stop Gap" coverage for employer's liability in states where commercial insurance is not

available. Most state funds do not provide employer's liability insurance. This

protection is usually attached to a Commercial General Liability insurance policy.

Property Insurance

Real Property pays the insured for physical damage to real property caused by an insured peril. Amount can be replacement cost new or depreciated amount (actual cash value).

- owned buildings and structures

- rented or leased real property if contract requires insured to maintain insurance

- tenant improvements in a rented or leased facility

- buildings under construction including construction material and equipment

- insurance can provide "all-risk" coverage (subject to certain exclusions) or named-peril

Coverage (again subject to certain exclusions). "Named peril" protection is less expensive than "all risk" protection

Personal Property pays insured for physical damage to personal property caused by an insured peril. Amount can be replacement cost new or depreciated amount (actual cash value).

- machinery and equipment

- boilers

- inventory

- property in transit

- office equipment

- computer equipment

- computer software

- property of others in care, custody, or control of insured

- contractor's equipment

- insured's property at other's location

- mobile equipment and tools

- signs

- rented or leased personal property if contract requires renter/lessor to maintain insurance

- salespersons samples

- property on consignment with another

Miscellaneous Property insurance is available for many risk exposures including

- export/import

- fine arts

- other unusual and highly valued personal property

Business Interruption pays the insured when it is unable to operate after an occurrence of an insured peril. To use coverage physical damage to insured property must occur.

- e-commerce disruption and denial of services

- lost profits based on prior operating period(s) results

- extra expense to maintain operations/services

- rental income

Other loss exposures

Crime Insurance reimburses the insured because of financial loss caused by

- employee dishonesty

- safe burglary

- money and securities

- forgery

- counterfeit currency or negotiable instruments

- kidnap and ransom

- computer fraud

- telephone fraud

- identity theft

Surety Bonds guarantee the insured will faithfully perform its obligations to a third party such as a government entity, contracting party, or others. If a surety pays a claim to a third party, the insured is obligated to reimburse the Surety Company. (Note: In some instances, the Small Business Administration makes Surety guarantees available).

- license and permit

- sales tax

- bid

- performance

- notary public

Personal 1 Insurance pays for loss sustained by employees, officers, or directors.

- medical

- life

- disability

- key employee life

Types of insurance policies

- package policies combine two or more coverages in one policy

- individual policies are single policies for single risk exposures

- surety bonds are individual forms of coverage

- specialty policies for risk exposures not included in package or individual policies

Amounts of Insurance to maintain. Insurance is designed to protect the assets and earning power of the business. Amounts required vary from business to business and the insurance agent will assist in determining the amount of coverage to be maintained.

Property Insurance Coverage can be maintained based on

- replacement cost new

- depreciated amount also known as actual cash value

- stated amount usually based on a written appraisal. Normally used for fine arts, one of a

kind asset, jewelry, etc

- requirements of a lender, lessor, or other contractual party

Liability Insurance Amount of coverage often determined after assessing the net worth of the business, its earning potential, or a combination of both. Liability amounts are limited by availability of insurance company limits. If additional protection is required Excess Insurance is purchased.

Auto liability. See liability insurance above.

Auto physical damage. Coverage is always on a depreciated or actual cash value basis.

Crime Insurance is usually determined by the total value of assets subject to possible dishonest


Surety Bonds are determined by the party requiring the bond. A performance bond is based on

the value of the contract, for example.

Worker's Compensation is determined by the State where operations occur (State program in Ohio).

Selecting an agent Most agents are highly professional and knowledgeable in arranging insurance discussed in this article. Independent agents represent several qualified companies which can provide protection desired by an insured. Direct writing insurers are represented by a local agent who does not represent any other insurance company. Some direct writing companies do not provide Commercial Insurance coverage. Some risk exposures such as liability, automobile, and property losses can be insured by a personal homeowners or automobile insurance policy. The insured is advised to be very careful to assure that all risk exposures are properly covered by a personal insurance policy instead of purchasing commercial insurance coverage.

Issues to consider when selecting an insurance agent include:

- in depth experience and knowledge in commercial insurance, and your type business if possible.

- maintains proper licenses issued by the State

- capable of proper evaluation of all risk exposures of insured person/organization

- international experience if insured operates outside of United States or Canada

- claims assistance

- communications expectations

- Insurance company/companies offered maintains a Best's Key Rating no less than A-10

- maintains Insurance Agent's Errors and Omissions Insurance

- conducts annual review with the insured to assure that all risk exposures are

properly addressed

Selecting an Insurance Company You may wish to deal with a direct writing insurance company such as State Farm, Nationwide, or others. Conversely, you may wish to deal with an insurer represented by an Independent Agent. Both approaches have strong validity. Remember that Direct Writing companies do not sell insurance through an Independent Agent; you must deal with an employee (Agent) of the Direct Writing Insurance Company. Best's Key Rating Guide provides excellent information about Insurance Companies' financial strength. Your agent can provide guidance about this or you may review a copy at your local library.

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