Business & Commercial Insurance
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Business & Commercial Insurance Information
As a business owner, you need the same kinds of insurance coverages for the car you use in your business as you do for a car used for personal travel -- liability, collision and comprehensive, medical payments and coverage for uninsured motorists. In fact, many business people use the same vehicle for both business and pleasure. If the vehicle is owned by the business, make sure the name of the business appears on the policy as the "principal insured" rather than your name. This will avoid possible confusion in the event that you need to file a claim or a claim is filed against you.
Whether you need to buy a business auto insurance policy will depend on the kind of driving you do. A good insurance agent will ask you many details about how you use vehicles in your business, who will be driving them and whether employees, if you have them, are likely to be driving their own cars for your business.
While the major coverages are the same, a business auto policy differs from a personal auto policy in many technical respects. Ask your insurance agent to explain all the differences and options.
Understanding General Liability Insurance
In today's litigious society, even small mishaps can result in large lawsuits. That's why general liability insurance, along with property and worker's compensation insurance, is essential for most companies. Liability insurance protects the assets of a business when it is sued for something it did (or didn't do) to cause an injury or property damage.
General liability insurance can be purchased separately or as part of a business-owner's policy (BOP). A BOP bundles property and liability insurance into one policy; however, the liability coverage limits are generally pretty low. Businesses that need more coverage usually purchase liability insurance as a separate policy. The amount of coverage a business needs depends on a couple of factors:
Business owners should first consider the amount of risk associated with their business. For example, a
business that manufactures heavy machinery is at a greater risk of being sued than a company that manufactures linens, and would therefore need more liability insurance.
The state in which you operate.
Businesses that operate in states with a history of awarding high damage amounts to plaintiffs typically need to carry liability insurance with higher coverage limits. An insurance broker can offer guidance in this area.
How General Liability Works
Under a general liability insurance policy, the insurer is obligated to pay the legal costs of a business in a covered liability claim or lawsuit. Covered liability claims include bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and advertising injury (damage from slander or false advertising). The insurance company also covers compensatory and general damages. Punitive damages aren't covered under general liability insurance policies because they're considered to be punishment for intentional acts.
General liability insurance policies always state a maximum amount that the insurer will pay during the policy period. Usually these policies also list the maximum amount the insurer will pay per occurrence. For example, if a company has a $1 million occurrence cap in its liability policy and it's successfully sued for $1.5 million, the insurer would pay $1 million and the business would be responsible for paying $500,000.
Taking precautions before an accident can help keep your liability and insurance rates down. All businesses can take certain steps to lower the chance of a liability insurance claim:
- Make sure all company records are complete and up-to-date;
- Get safety tips for your type of business from your insurance company.
To cover these types of situations, many companies purchase umbrella liability insurance, which picks up where their general liability coverage ends. Umbrella liability covers payments that exceed their other policy's limits, and provides additional coverage for liabilities not covered in a standard liability insurance policy.
Workers compensation laws were created to ensure that employees who are injured on the job are provided with fixed monetary awards. This eliminates the need for litigation and creates an easier process for the employee. It also helps control the financial risks for employers since many states limit the amount an injured employee can recover from an employer.
Workers Compensation Insurance is designed to help companies pay these benefits. As a protection for employees, most states require that employers carry some form of Workers Compensation Insurance. Workers Compensation Insurance is not health insurance. Workers Compensation is designed specifically for injuries sustained on the job.
In most states, if you have employees, you are required to carry Workers Compensation coverage. Even in non-mandatory states, it can be a very good idea, particularly if you have many employees, or if they are engaged in hazardous activities.
Do I need workers compensation insurance?
Employers have a legal responsibility to their employees to make the workplace safe. However, accidents happen even when every reasonable safety measure has been taken.
To protect employers from lawsuits resulting from workplace accidents and to provide medical care and compensation for lost income to employees hurt in workplace accidents, in almost every state, businesses are required to buy workers compensation insurance. Workers compensation insurance covers workers injured on the job, whether they're hurt on the workplace premises or elsewhere, or in auto accidents while on business. It also covers work-related illnesses.
Workers compensation provides payments to injured workers, without regard to who was at fault in the accident, for time lost from work and for medical and rehabilitation services. It also provides death benefits to surviving spouses and dependents.
Each state has different laws governing the amount and duration of lost income benefits, the provision of medical and rehabilitation services and how the system is administered. For example, in most states there are regulations that cover whether the worker or employer can choose the doctor who treats the injuries and how disputes about benefits are resolved.
Workers compensation insurance must be bought as a separate policy. Although in-home business and business owners policies (BOPs) are sold as package policies, they don't include coverage for workers' injuries.
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