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Commercial Insurance FAQ

What is property insurance? Return To Top

Property insurance helps protect your buildings and equipment, stock, furniture and fixtures. Some policies include equipment breakdown and business income coverage. Basic property insurance will generally cover your business for losses in the event of a fire or lightning strike and will help pay the cost of removing property to protect it from further loss. Additionally, a standard small business insurance policy will usually help cover losses from windstorm, hail, explosion, riot and civil commotion and damage caused by aircraft, automobiles or vandalism.

How much property insurance does my small business need?  Return To Top

Property insurance can be purchased on the basis of the property's actual value (the replacement cost minus depreciation); its replacement value (the cost of replacing the item without deducting for depreciation); or an agreed-upon amount.

How does liability insurance coverage protect my small business?  Return To Top

There are many different types of third-party liabilities to be covered for a business. Business liability insurance may protect you from claims arising from someone's bodily or personal injuries. Other items that could be covered are damage to the property of others, products-completed operations, advertising, premises operations, fire, legal liability and related legal defense costs. For instance, liability insurance will not only help to pay the cost of covered damages but may also help with attorney fees and other costs associated with your defense.

What does the term "bodily injury" in a liability insurance policy mean?  Return To Top

This refers to the injury, sickness, disease, or even death, of any person that occurs during the policy period. 

What does "personal and advertising injury" mean in general liability insurance coverage?     Return To Top

Personal and advertising injury means being responsible for libel, slander or any defamatory or disparaging material, or a publication or utterance in violation of an individual's right of privacy; wrongful entry or eviction, or other invasion of the right of private occupancy; false arrest, wrongful detention, false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution; which occurs during the policy period.

What's the difference between claims-made coverage and prior acts coverage?  Return To Top

While claims-made coverage applies to a claim which is made during the policy period, priors acts coverage offers protection for wrongful acts that happened before the inception date of an insurance policy...but have yet to become known. For example, a buyer of E&O insurance may want to extend coverage for a period of time prior to when the coverage becomes effective...just in case.

How does an umbrella insurance policy work?  Return To Top

A policy designed to provide protection against catastrophic losses, the umbrella insurance policy is generally written over various primary liability policies, such as a general liability insurance policy, business auto policy and employers' liability coverage. Once the underlying limits of these primary policies are exhausted, the umbrella liability policy would provide further coverage beyond the limits of those policies.

How does Workers' Compensation Insurance work?  Return To Top

Workers' compensation helps pay for the rehabilitation, recovery and medical bills of employees work-related injuries, as well as lost time when they are unable to work because of a work-related injury. Workers' compensation is not a substitute for health or medical insurance, since employees are only covered for on-the-job injuries.

When do I need to buy workers' compensation insurance?  Return To Top

In most states, workers' compensation is required when you have one or more employees. There are a few states that do not require employers to carry workers' compensation coverage.

Where do I buy workers' compensation?  Return To Top

Almost all states are "open market", which means the coverage is underwritten by private insurers; and some states are "closed" or "monopolistic" - the coverage is underwritten by a state-sponsored fund (ND, OH, WA, WV, WY). In states that are open, rates can vary between insurance carriers depending on the type of business the carrier is attempting to attract. In an open market, the rates for workers' compensation are competitive.

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost?  Return To Top

Workers' compensation pricing is based upon your employee payroll, the number and job classification of the employees, classification of your business and past loss experience. The employer pays for the cost of the workers' compensation.

Why should I purchase commercial auto insurance?  Return To Top

Many personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage if a vehicle is used mainly for business. A commercial auto policy provides coverage for autos owned by a business if these vehicles are in an accident. The insurance helps to pay to repair or replace the vehicle and the vehicle of the third party damaged by the employee. It also helps pay for the medical expenses of those injured in an accident.

Will my employees' personal cars be covered under a commercial auto policy if they are using their cars for business?  Return To Top

Most commercial auto insurance policies cover the liability for a business if employees use their own cars for business, provided that the business owner has purchased coverage for non-owned liability. Separate non-owned physical damage coverage is available to cover actual damage to the auto. However, the employees' personal auto policy would be the primary coverage for damage to their automobiles.

What is errors & omissions insurance?  Return To Top

Errors & omissions insurance provides coverage for people who give advice, make educated recommendations, design solutions or represent the needs of others. "E&O" is also referred to as professional liability or malpractice insurance. This type of liability insurance would cover you and your employees in the event someone claims you incorrectly performed or failed to perform your professional duties.

What is a business owners' policy or a "BOP"?  Return To Top

A BOP is a customized policy for small businesses that combines property insurance and liability insurance in one policy, and generally includes additional coverages at little or no additional premium. So it allows you to have broad coverage at affordable premiums. Most insurance carriers have customized BOPs for particular industries and services.

Even if you have a BOP, though, most small business owners should consider adding coverage for conditions that might not otherwise be covered. Additional coverages tailored to your industry are often available, such as temperature changes, equipment breakdown, or computer equipment failure.

What is business income insurance?  Return To Top

This insurance may reimburse you for the net income that would have been earned if, for example, a fire or other covered causes of loss had not occurred. Losses due to down time or extra expenses needed to restore operations (such as additional property rental) also may be covered.

What is employment practices liability insurance?  Return To Top

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI)is designed to protect employers against claims of employee sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination and other employment-related litigation. Many insurance companies offer employment practices liability insurance as part of their business owners' policy or as a stand-alone policy.

What is inland marine insurance? Why do I need it for my business?  Return To Top

Despite its misleading name, inland marine is a broad type of insurance which covers articles that may be transported from place to place as well as via bridges and tunnels. Specifically, this type of insurance helps protect a wide range of high risk, mobile items, including: specialized contractor's tools and equipment, electronic data processing systems, from mainframe computers to laptops, fine art objects and jewelry.