It’s sad but true. Most California Small Business Owners are either overpaying for insurance they do not need or they are paying unnecessary fees. This is true for both Workers Compensation and General Liability Insurance. Why? It’s simple. Most brokers are lazy and simply auto renew their clients without searching out the newest insurance options. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.
With our 20+ years of helping Small Business Owners navigate their insurance options, we want to share with you some helpful tips and on how to save time and money with your business insurance coverages.
As a business owner, it’s important to have the right insurance protection. You can get sued just as easily as any other small business owner, and liability claims can be very expensive. If you don’t have coverage, and a client sues you, you’ll have to pay the costs out of pocket. And that can be enough to potentially put you out of business.
What Does General Liability Business Insurance Cover?
Commercial general liability insurance helps pay for medical expenses and legal costs if an incident at your business leads to a lawsuit.
How Much Does General Liability Insurance Cost?
Companies in higher risk industries pay a higher cost compared to lower risk businesses. For example, construction companies are likely charged a higher rate than consulting companies. Other factors that can affect your insurance cost include your company’s:
- Years of experience in your business
- Your Company Location
- Company Size
- Insurance claims history
INSURANCE BUYING TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS:
1. Don’t call your personal insurance agent for business insurance.
In most cases, your auto and home owner insurance broker will not understand business insurance and will not have the direct access to the most competitive insurance carriers.
2. Ask your broker what fees will be charged for putting a new policy in place.
NOTE: Typical broker fees can range between $300 to $500. Look for a broker that does not charge any broker fees. Insurance agents are paid a commission on policies they put in force. Charging broker fees is just an additional way an agency can make money.
3. Review your need for a “Claims Made” or a “Per Occurrence policy.
Claims Made Policies only cover you if you have the policy while you are insured with that carrier. If a claim comes up after your policy period expires, and you did not renew the insurance, there will be no coverage. Per Occurrence Policies protect you no matter when the claim is actually reported. As an example, if you are an electrician and do work that damages someone’s house but is not noticed for three years, you would be covered under a “Per Occurrence” policy.
4. Ask your broker what the Insurance Rating is of the insurance company they are recommending to you:
Insurance companies are graded by their ability to pay claims and stay in business. These ratings are done by two major companies: AM Best and Standard & Poors. The reason you want to ask about this is that your customers may require a specific carrier rating in order for you to work with them. If your insurance company has a bad year, they could go out of business leaving you with no insurance and there may or may not get your money back on the premiums you have already paid. In the event you have a big claim, this could be a disaster. We typically recommend that you go with only B rating or higher.
5. Find out if the insurance carrier being recommended is Admitted or Non-Admitted .
The safest bet is to purchase a policy from an Admitted insurance company in your state. This type of policy means that if the company goes bankrupt that the rest of the companies that are admitted will bail them out and you will have insurance even though your company has gone bankrupt. Essentially, there is almost no risk of you being stuck without insurance if you have paid. A Non-Admitted Company means that the insurance company is not admitted in the state you are buying insurance in and if they go “belly up”, you are left holding the bag. If you have an “A” rated “non-admitted” carrier, they still have very strong financials and the chance of them going bankrupt would be very little.
6. Know your Exclusions.
You will not be covered for any claims that arise out of work that is not listed on your declarations page. This is important. As an example, if you are a carpenter and your client asks you to install a light switch or perhaps fix a small leak under the sink and you make a mistake and the home floods or catches on fire as a result of that switch you installed, you would not be covered. So, the lesson here is to make sure your policy protects you for the actual type of business that you are in.