Business insurance 101: what you need to know

So you started your own company. You’ve spotted a gap in the market or come up with a brilliant new idea. You set things up and maybe even started making some money. Before going a step further, it’s time to think about insurance for your business. After all, you have taken a big risk to start your own business and that means you have to mitigate those risks as best you can.

The hard fact about coverage and companies is that you need it. Everything you have for your business, from vehicles to basic liability, requires insurance. Without it, you could jeopardize everything you’ve built, expose yourself to crippling financial hardship, or even break the law. But don’t worry, here are some basics about business coverage that can help you get the protection you need to succeed.

Types of business insurance

The first thing to understand about coverage and your business is the different types out there. Depending on your business, you may need specific types of insurance. In general, business coverage can be divided into three broad categories: insurance for owners or partners and key employees, coverage of business income and property, and liability insurance. Here’s a breakdown of each different species.

Insurance for business owners, partners and key employees

If you own a business, you will need specific coverages depending on how your business is set up. These may include, but are not limited to:

• Life Insurance – This cover protects your family if something happens to you. If you are the sole owner of your business, this insurance is essential because business owners are personally liable for all of the company’s debts.

• Disability Insurance – In the event that you are injured or become ill, Disability Insurance provides you with an income for a specified period of time.

• Partnership Insurance or Buy-Sell Coverage – If you have a partner in your business, this insurance will help you buy your partner’s stock and continue the business in the event of your death.

• Critical Health Insurance – If you become seriously ill, this coverage gives you a lump sum to get you through the situation.

• Key Person Insurance – This coverage protects you in the event of the death or loss of the employees most important to your business.

Insurance for business and real estate income

In addition to coverage that protects individuals, your business may also require the following types of insurance to protect its assets and income. Keep in mind that businesses that can no longer use your home may require coverage beyond your home insurance policy. It is always a good idea to contact your insurance company to discuss running a business from your home.

• Property Insurance – This coverage covers any building or property owned by your business if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, earthquakes, avalanches and other similar disasters.

• Contents Insurance – If you own a property or building that stores items for your business, such as a warehouse or storefront, this policy covers the loss of that content. Keep in mind that even if you rent space, you may still need home insurance, as your lease will likely make you responsible for what you put in the rented space. Home business owners should contact their insurance company to discuss what should be included in their home policy.

• Business Interruption Insurance – In the event of a disaster, this policy covers you for the time your business cannot run properly.

• Vehicle Insurance – If your business owns vehicles, you are required by law to have coverage. If you use your personal car for your business, check with your insurance company.

Liability insurance

Liability covers you in the event of an error or accident for which you may be held responsible. There are three types to consider when owning a business: personal liability, product liability, and professional liability. These respectively cover you against personal responsibility if something goes wrong with your products and against lawsuits brought by your customers.

Starting your own business is a big risk, but that doesn’t mean you should take unnecessary risks. If you own a business, you need the right coverage. Be sure to shop around and find the insurance package that’s right for your business. If you have any questions, we can help you understand your policies to make sure you have the right types of coverage with the right types of insurance companies.

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