Every business, even if home-based, needs to have liability insurance. The policy provides both defense and damages if you, your employees or your products or services cause or are alleged to have caused bodily injury or property damage to a third party.
One of the key concepts of liability coverage is that it is comprehensive in nature. What this means is that the policy covers all hazards within the scope of the insuring agreement that are not otherwise excluded. It is likewise comprehensive in that it provides automatic coverage for new locations and activities of your business, which come about after policy inception and throughout the policy term. Commercial General Liability (CGL) is the standard commercial liability policy used to insure businesses.
There are three primary coverage sections that make up a CGL policy: premises liability, products liability and completed operations. Premises liability covers liability for accidental injury or property damage that results from either a condition on your premises or your operations in progress, whether on or away from your premises. A products liability hazard exists for any business that manufactures, sells, handles, or distributes goods or products. The hazard being the potential liability for bodily injury or property damage that arises out of your goods or products. Completed operations covers your potential liability for bodily injury or property damage that arises out of your completed work.
Commercial automobile coverage is similar to the coverage you may carry on your personal auto; however, commercial automobile exposures can be more complex, requiring specialty coverages to be considered based on the individual needs of your business. Basically, commercial automobile coverage can protect your company from any liability stemming from automobiles used in your business or any damage to the covered automobile. A Business Auto Policy (BAP) has the flexibility to provide coverage for business, personal, non-owned, or hired autos based on the coverage purchased and applied to each scheduled auto. In other words, automobiles can be separately scheduled along with corresponding coverages. Coverage can differ by vehicle and a symbol or multiple symbols will designate the coverage assigned to a scheduled auto. These symbols are referred to as covered auto symbols and use a simple numerical system (1-13). The automobiles are classified by weight (light, medium, heavy, extra heavy) and by type of use (private passenger, service, commercial). Unlike personal auto policies that separate bodily injury and property damage limits (split limits), BAPs commonly utilize a Combined Single Limit (CSL) for the limit of insurance. This creates higher limits for both coverages, including per occurrence limits. Common commercial automobile CSLs are $500,000 or $1,000,000.
If you own your building or have business personal property, including office equipment, computers, inventory or tools, you should consider purchasing a policy that will protect you if you have a fire, vandalism, theft, smoke damage etc. You may also want to consider business interruption/loss of earning insurance as part of the policy to protect your earnings if the business is unable to operate.
A business owner policy packages all required coverage a business owner would need. Often, BOP’s will include business interruption insurance, property insurance, vehicle coverage, liability insurance, and crime insurance . Based on your company’s specific needs, you can alter what is included in a BOP. Typically, a business owner will save money by choosing a BOP because the bundle of services often costs less than the total cost of all the individual coverage’s.