When you’re running a small business, it can feel like there are always a million things to do. You have to drive sales, balance the books and keep a close eye on your employees. (Don’t forget about your company’s Facebook page, either.)
Sometimes, getting insurance for your business can get lost in the shuffle. But experts say that could be a critical mistake. “It is risky for any business to go without some basic coverage,” says Jacquelyn Bishop in GEICO’s commercial insurance department.
A small slipup could cost you everything, and with premiums starting as low as $500 a year, getting coverage makes good sense, she says. But where do you start?
The first step is lining up general liability insurance. This will cover any property damage or personal injuries connected to your business, including the notorious “slip-and-fall.” Among other things, it will pay for legal fees and medical bills related to injuries, while covering any havoc you accidentally wreak on a rental property.
From there, the type of coverage you need depends on the size and nature of your business, says Bishop. Firms with employees will need workers’ compensation insurance, which is usually mandated by the government.
If you have a fleet of company vehicles, commercial auto insurance is a must. It could also be necessary if you’re using your own car to ferry around people or products.
Finally, professionals should have specialized professional liability insurance that covers negligence and legal fees. This kind of coverage isn’t only for doctors and lawyers; everyone from personal trainers to beauticians to IT consultants can end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit.
Often, many types of insurance can be bundled together into what’s known as a business owners policy, at a fraction of the cost of individual plans. The GEICO Insurance Agency, for example, offers “one-and-done” policies that make it easy for business owners to get the coverage they need.
Bishop says that above all, it’s important for business owners to speak with an insurance agent and get a customized quote. “They need to understand that one size does not fit all,” she says. “Just because their colleagues may have one type of policy does not mean it fits their needs.”
It’s also important to do some research into the financial health of your insurance company. Nothing would be worse than signing up with an insurer only to realize they can’t pay out in the event of a calamity. Bishop suggests visiting the website of AM Best, a global credit ratings agency that specializes in insurance, to get the lowdown on potential providers.
There’s no such thing as being too careful, so make sure your business is well protected.
Next article: Is your small business prepared for a winter storm?
By Andrew Raven
Originally published October 2015.