General Business News for September 2002

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Insuring Your Business... Are You Covered?
Starting a business is all about possibilities, optimism, and promise. But it should also be a time for ensuring protection and security. And that makes a comprehensive package of insurance essential for all businesses.

As negative as it may seem the first thing you need to do is to pinpoint just what might go wrong. It is an essential step in identifying those sorts of insurance risks that you'll ultimately have to tackle. Assess all potential liabilities that may come up in your business.

Don't limit your risk assessment to what you see yourself. Have at least two insurance agents conduct their own risk analysis of your business. This is free since they are ultimately trying to get your business. Try to hook up with insurance professionals who have worked with your sort of business and are experienced in identifying what you need to insure and how much coverage is prudent. Additionally, check with your local town hall or state insurance office, as some communities and states mandate particular forms of insurance coverage.

Although insurance needs vary widely from one business to the next, here's a quick checklist of policies you'll want to consider.

Business owner coverage. Otherwise known as "catch-all" coverage, business owner insurance provides damage protection from fire and other mishaps. Owner coverage also offers a degree of liability protection.

Property insurance. This can supplement the property coverage offered by business owner insurance. Property insurance covers damage to the building that houses your business, as well to as items inside, such as furniture and inventory.

Liability insurance. In our litigation-crazed society, this may be the most important form of coverage you can get. This covers damage to property or injuries suffered by someone else for which you are held responsible.

Product liability insurance. You might want this form of coverage if you make a product that could conceivably harm someone else.

Errors and omissions insurance. This coverage is particularly important to service-based businesses, offering protection should you make a mistake or neglect to do something that causes a customer or client harm. A good example is doctor's medical malpractice insurance, which practicing physicians are required to carry.

Business income insurance. This is disability coverage for your business. This ensures you get paid if you lose income as a result of damage that temporarily shuts down or limits your business.

Automobile insurance. This last item should come as no great surprise. If your business uses cars or trucks in some manner, you have to have this type of insurance for collision and liability coverage.

Workers Compensation insurance. This insurance coverage pays for employees’ medical, disability, and indemnity expenses in the event they are injured on the job.

The list might look costly. But remember the big rule: Never, ever settle for insurance you know to be inadequate, such as $300,000 in property insurance for a shop worth well more than half a million dollars. Unfortunately, insufficient coverage is often the rule for beginning businesses. Not only can some owners have a hard time imagining the worst happening; hefty insurance premiums are often at the bottom of entrepreneurs' preferred expenditures list.

However, there are ways to mitigate crippling insurance costs. Start by checking with appropriate trade associations or professional groups, as many offer cut-rate insurance as part of a membership package. Also, consider upping the size of your policy deductibles. Although that means paying more out of pocket if something goes wrong, higher deductibles can lower your premiums.


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