What Kind and How Much Commercial Insurance Do You Need?

Every business needs commercial insurance of some kind or another, depending on the nature of the business, and in sufficient amounts to protect it from serious, if not fatal, losses and liabilities. Only a serious, thoughtful review of business operations and assets can determine the kinds and amounts of insurance needed for a particular business, though commercial insurance agents should be able to offer some guidance.

In assessing the need for property insurance like commercial building insurance, a business needs to make a thorough review and valuation of its assets. These include real estate, buildings, fixtures, equipment and everything a business owns as tangible property or what accountants term “fixed assets.” The business’s accountants can aid in this review and prevent overlooking assets that otherwise might not occur to the business owner. Once this has been firmly established, then the business needs to weigh the advisability of insuring it for “actual value” or “replacement value.”

A commercial insurance policy for “actual value” means losses to property would only be covered for the actual cost of the property, such as a building or piece of equipment, less depreciation. Insuring the property for “replacement value” would mean the insurance would cover the cost of replacing the loss at current market costs. That is, taking a building as an example, “replacement value” coverage would pay for replacing it at current construction and outfitting costs, whereas “actual value” coverage would only pay for the loss incurred for the original cost of the building less depreciation. The two are very different, have different payouts and carry different price tags, so this issue deserves careful consideration.

Commercial life insurance can cover the lost value of high-producing and valuable employees, and commercial umbrella insurance can provide extra coverage over and above the normal policy amount for only a small incremental cost for additional risk management purposes.

As for liability insurance, other factors require review and consideration. The areas of activity the business is engaged in, and their attendant potential liabilities, need to be assessed. The business owner needs to weigh potential losses that might be incurred through accidents or oversights resulting from the conduct of the business itself. In which areas is the business open to customer or client lawsuits? Which circumstances or activities could result in injury or loss to third parties on the premises of the business or through the conduct of its business operations? These would be quite different for a physician than for an air conditioning/heating repair service, to use just one example.

Again, an experienced, well informed commercial insurance agent can provide invaluable input and advice in these matters. He or she can often identify areas of the business that might not be included in customary policies and which may require special riders to fully protect a business from huge potential losses which the owner, and even the accountant, may miss. Also a good commercial insurance agent can help in finding the most economical coverage for a particular type of insurance important to the business.

Commercial Insurance – What Is The Use?

Every business owner needs commercial insurance of some kind or other. It is definitely classed as one of the most vital purchases for any business. Commercial insurance protects the business and its stock holders against a wide variety of events such as theft, damage to property and liability lawsuits. Any business without commercial insurance is asking for trouble.

The most frequently used types of commercial insurance are property, liability and worker’s compensation.

Property insurance is there to cover the cost of repairing damages to the physical property of the business such as buildings. It can also include coverage for things like machinery (for accidental breakdowns of machinery), debris removal (should your property be hit by an act of God that leaves a huge mess to clean up), builder’s risk (in case damage is caused while construction is taking place), glass (all windows etc), inland marine (for property in transit or other people’s property that is store on your land), business interruption (for recovering lost income and paying expenses while business is unable to continue), ordinance (if you have to tear down a building that is not compliant and then rebuild it), tenant (covers damages to improvements made that were caused by employees), crime (for criminal activity, obviously) and fidelity bonds (losses due to theft by a bonded employee) insurances.

Should you or your business cause injury to a third party, you need liability insurance to cover the expenses laid on you by a lawsuit. This commercial insurance includes errors and omissions (inadvertent mistakes that cause injury), malpractice (damages caused by a professional failing to adhere to the professional standard of conduct), car (for all automobiles used by the business) and directors or officers (for lawsuits directed at representatives of the company) insurances.

If you have any employees involved in the day to day running of your business, especially if the business has a high risk of injury to its employees, the it is a good idea to take out worker’s compensation insurance. This type of commercial insurance covers the expenses incurred by an employee getting hurt through a work related incident. It may also protect you against a law suit by said employee since they will be receiving compensation for their injuries.

When a business owner is looking to start up a new business, the first thing they should do after drawing up the business plan and scouting property is investigate commercial insurance. There is no telling how soon they will need it. However, they also need to bear in mind that a new business is a high risk for insurance companies and so they will get a higher premium than a similar business that has been in operation for years. This means that they should review their policy every year and try to work it down as low as they can. Every good business person is about making the most profit that they can after all and unnecessarily high commercial insurance premiums cut into profits in a big way, but then, so do lawsuits.

Understanding Commercial Insurance

While some of the smallest businesses, like one-person operations, can go without commercial insurance, for most businesses it’s a must. Most small and medium-size business can forgo the complexity of purchasing multiple policies by getting a business owner’s policy (BOP), which is basically a bundle of essential coverage types.

The options packaged in a BOP vary, but almost every plan at least contains some level of business property insurance to cover the office building itself. Other common options are commercial liability insurance, business contents insurance, business interruption insurance and commercial vehicle insurance. Unlike business property insurance, business contents insurance covers the items inside the office, such as computers, uniforms and inventory.

The level of commercial liability coverage included in a business owner’s policy may not be sufficient for large businesses, and in some cases, not even for small businesses. Liability insurance is designed to protect firms from lawsuits for personal injury, advertising injury and property damage. “Advertising injury” refers to claims that have to have to do with defamation or intellectual property: i.e. copyright and trademark infringement, libel or slander.

Imagine a case where a self-employed designer, who wouldn’t ordinarily seem like a candidate for liability coverage, created a logo for a client, only to be sued for trademark infringement by a company with a similar logo. Most business owners associate commercial liability insurance with manufacturing and construction firms that are more accident prone by nature, but the possibility of any company being sued shouldn’t be underestimated. In today’s litigious society, even the smallest businesses are vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits.

40+ Home Insurance Savings Tips

Your dwelling is often your most precious asset that you need to protect. We created a list of all savings opportunities associated with Home insurance. This list is the most complete perspective on home insurance savings tips. Numerous insurance brokers contributed to this list. So, let’s start!

1. Change your content coverage: Renting a Condo? You can often lower your content coverage. No need to insure your belongings to up to $250,000 if you only have a laptop and some IKEA furniture!

2. Renovations: Renovating your house can result in lower home insurance premiums, as home insurance premiums for older, poorly maintained dwellings are usually higher. Additionally, renovating only parts of your dwelling (e.g. the roof) can lead to insurance savings.

3. Pool: Adding a swimming pool to your house will likely lead to an increase in your insurance rates since your liability ( e.g. the risk of someone drowning) and the value of your house have increased.

4. Pipes: Insurers prefer copper or plastic plumbing – maybe it is a good idea to upgrade your galvanized / lead pipes during your next renovation cycle.

5. Shop around: Search, Compare, and switch insurance companies. There are many insurance providers and their price offerings for the same policies can be very different, therefore use multiple online tools and talk to several brokers since each will cover a limited number of insurance companies.

6. Wiring: Some wiring types are more expensive or cheaper than others to insure. Make sure you have approved wiring types, and by all means avoid aluminum wirings which can be really expensive to insure. Not all insurers will cover houses with aluminum wirings, and those that would, will require a full electrical inspection of the house.

7. Home Insurance deductibles: Like auto insurance, you can also choose higher home insurance deductibles to reduce your insurance premiums.

8. Bundle: Do you need Home and Auto Insurance? Most companies will offer you a discount if you bundle them together.

9. New Home: Check if insurer has a new home discount, some insurers will have them.

10. Claims-free discount: Some companies recognize the fact that you have not submitted any claims and reward it with a claim-free discount.

11. Mortgage-free home: When you complete paying down your house in full, some insurers will reward you with lower premiums.

12. Professional Membership: Are you a member of a professional organization (e.g. Certified Management Accountants of Canada or The Air Canada Pilots Association)? Then some insurance companies offer you a discount.

13. Seniors: Many companies offer special pricing to seniors.

14. Annual vs. monthly payments: In comparison to monthly payments, annual payments save insurers administrative costs (e.g. sending bills) and therefore they reward you lower premiums.

15. Annual review: Review your policies and coverage every year, since new discounts could apply to your new life situation if it has changed.

16. Alumni: Graduates from certain Canadian universities ( e.g University of Toronto, McGill University) might be eligible for a discount at certain Insurance providers.

17. Employee / Union members: Some companies offer discounts to union members ( e.g. IBM Canada or Research in Motion)

18. Mortgage insurance: Getting mortgage insurance when you have enough coverage in Life insurance is not always necessary: mortgage insurance is another name for a Life/Critical Illness / Disability insurance associated with your home only but you pay extra for a convenience of getting insurance directly when lending the money. For example a Term Life policy large enough to pay off your home is usually cheaper.

19. Drop earthquake protection: In many regions, earthquakes are not likely – you could decide not to take earthquake coverage which could lower your premiums. For example, in BC earthquake coverage can account for as much as one-third of a policy’s premium.

20. Wood stove: Choosing to use a wood stove means higher premiums – Insurance companies often decide to inspect the houses with such installations before insuring them. A decision to get rid of it means a lower risk and thus lower insurance premiums.

21. Heating: Insurers like forced-air gas furnaces or electric heat installations. If you have an oil-heated home, you might be paying more than your peers who have alternative heating sources.

22. Bicycle: You are buying a new bicycle and thinking about getting extra protection in case it is stolen when you leave it on the street e.g. when doing your groceries? Your Home insurance might be covering it already.

23. Stop smoking: Some insurers increase their premiums for the homes with smokers as there is an increased risk of fire.

24. Clean claim history: Keep a clean claim record without placing small claims, sometimes it makes sense to simply repair a small damage rather than claim it: you should consider both aspects: your deductibles and potential raise in premiums.

25. Rebuilding vs. market costs: Consider your rebuilding costs when choosing an insurance coverage, not the market price of your house (market price can be significantly higher than real rebuilding costs).

26. Welcome discount: Some insurers offer a so called welcome discount.

27. Avoid living in dangerous locations: Nature effects some locations more than others: avoid flood-, or earthquake-endangered areas when choosing a house.

28. Neighbourhood: Moving to a more secure neighbourhood with lower criminal rate will often considered in your insurance premiums.

29. Centrally-connected alarm: Installing an alarm connected to a central monitoring system will be recognized by some insurers in premiums.

30. Monitoring: Having your residence / apartment / condo monitored 24 hour can mean an insurance discount. e.g. via a security guard.

31. Hydrants and fire-station: Proximity to a water hydrant and/or fire-station can decrease your premiums as well.

32. Loyalty: Staying with one insurer longer can sometimes result in a long-term policy holder discount.

33. Water damages: Avoid buying a house which may have water damage or has a history of water damage; a check with the insurance company can help to find it out before you buy the house.

34. Decrease liability risk: Use meaningful ways to reduce your liability risk (e.g. fencing off a pool) and it can result in your liability insurance premiums going down.

35. Direct insurers: Have you always dealt with insurance brokers / agents? Getting a policy from a direct insurer (i.e. insurers working via call-center or online) often can be cheaper (but not always) since they do not pay an agent/broker commission for each policy sold.

36. Plumbing insulation: Insulating your pipes will prevent them from freezing in winter and reduce or even avoid insurance claims.

37. Dependent students: Dependent students living in their own apartment can be covered by their parents’ home insurance policy at no additional charge.

38. Retirees: Those who are retired can often get an additional discount – since they spend more time at home than somebody who works during the day and thus can prevent accidents like a fire much easier.

39. Leverage inflation: Many insurers increase your dwelling limit every year by considering the inflation of the house rebuilding costs. Make sure this adjustment is in line with reality and that you are not overpaying.

40. Credit score: Most companies use your credit score when calculating home insurance premiums. Having a good credit score can help you to get lower insurance rates.

41. Stability of residence: Some insurers may offer a stability of residence discount if you have lived at the same dwelling for a certain number of years.

Commercial Insurance – A Guide to Lowering Your Cost and Understanding Coverages

Having commercial insurance protecting your business is critical and knowing the different types of coverages available is essential to lowering your cost. Professional liability coverage (aka Errors and Omissions insurance) is a form of insurance that protects businesses that offer advice and services to others. A common form of errors and omissions that gets a lot of attention on TV and the news is medical malpractice. This type of professional liability insurance policy is designed to protect doctors and other medical professionals if harm should come to someone who takes their professional advice and suffers as a result.

Another important form of protection is called business interruption insurance. If you have ever been through a hurricane or an earthquake then you know that it’s not just the catastrophe you need to worry about, but sometimes what happens after. To help you solve the problems that can arise when you are trying to rebuild your business by helping to replace the lost income and paying your normal expenses is what business interruption insurance is designed to do. Some policies may cover extra expenses you can have when trying to get your company back on its feet, but be sure to check your policy for the exact details.

The most frequent coverage needed by small businesses is commercial vehicle insurance. Most personal insurance policies will not cover accidents that happen to vehicles that are being driven while conducting services for the company and are the reason small businesses must get commercial auto insurance to protect their assets. If you don’t have commercial coverage and your company vehicle is involved in an accident you will not be covered. Commercial auto insurance has a range of options, just like personal auto insurance. The first step in getting commercial auto insurance at an affordable rate is to decide what policy options you will need.

While automobile insurance is often unavoidable and necessary, business owners are concerned with the rising cost that they are forced to pay. Many small businesses live in fear when it comes time to shop for their insurance that they will be taken advantage of. Trying to find the best price for your commercial insurance needs is not as difficult as people might think. Prices vary greatly from company to company, so to get the best deal possible, you should shop around. A great first step is shopping online and getting a list of brokers and companies that specialize in commercial business insurance.

Also consider raising your deductible on your policy as this will have a major impact on the price of your policy. The deductible is the amount of money you must pay before the insurance will start paying claims. The higher deductible you have the less you will have to pay in premiums each month. You should also ask you agent about multiple car discounts if you need to cover several vehicles.

While commercial insurance is often unavoidable, knowing the different types of coverages that are available on the market to help protect against loses is a big first step in not only protecting your company, but also lowering the cost of your coverage. By shopping online and following a few important tips you can be sure that you will receive the best possible rates on your next policy.