Business liability insurance is a must-have for all businesses. Even if you run a small operation (e.g., bed and breakfast, pet sitting service, house cleaning service, local newspaper), you need to have liability insurance for your business.
Liability insurance covers injuries and damages suffered by a third party. Do not expect to collect from any claim against it. Liability insurance is meant to pay for any obligations you might incur in case someone gets hurt while he or she is on your business property or when there are property damages or injuries caused by you or your employees.
Not a few people have commented that doing business in America is like working in a legal minefield where even minor issues or senseless disputes end up in lawsuits. You may have read about the millions of dollars ruled in favor of plaintiffs. If you don’t want to risk everything you have worked for, you need to protect yourself and your business from any possible legal threat.
Types of Liability Insurance
Ideally, you should have liability insurance in place before you launch your small business. Remember, anything can happen or go wrong anytime, anywhere. Consult with your insurance agent for the appropriate policy and coverage you need. There are basically four types of liability insurance:
1. General Liability Insurance
This is the most common and offers a broad coverage of protection against lawsuits arising from auto accidents involving your business vehicles, property damage, or injuries to anyone anywhere you’re doing business such as when someone trips on your tripod if you’re a photographer or if your waiter burns a guest with the flambé he’s carrying. Some liability coverage may include libel, slander, and infringement on intellectual property. (You’ll definitely need this if you run a freelance writing business from home.)
2. Professional Liability Insurance
This type of liability insurance is for those who are in the service industry. It covers errors made during the performance of a service such as the malpractice insurance for doctors, and errors and omissions insurance for financial advisors, lawyers, accountants. and other professionals.
3. Product Liability Insurance
This type of liability insurance is for business owners who are in the manufacturing industry. It provides protection against accident, injury, or death that may be blamed to any product you manufacture or develop. Its coverage is best appreciated by toy producers and car manufacturers.
4. Employers’ Liability Insurance
This liability insurance protects you from possible lawsuits your employees might file against your business because of injuries or sickness or for wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and discrimination.
Occurrence Policy vs. Claims-Made Policy
Go online to find the best rates for your business liability insurance. If you wish, you can use an aggregator service to receive multiple quotes from different insurance companies so you can easily compare and make an educated decision. As you go about shopping, you will notice that the rates for a claims-made policy are lower than the rates for an occurrence policy. Don’t merely go for the cheaper premium; learn more about the package you are getting instead.
The occurrence policy is more expensive than the claims-made policy because you remain protected long after your policy lapses. As long as the incident occurred while the policy was in force, any claim against you for that incident will have to be paid by the insurance company regardless of the time of filing. This means that if you get sued three years from now for an incident that happened today, your current insurance will answer for any financial settlement that may be ruled against you in the future even if you have switched to a new insurer by then.
The claims-made policy, on the other hand, provides protection only from incidents that occur during the term of the policy and for which claims must be made within the same time period or for the duration that you are insured with the same insurance company without lapse or gap of coverage.