Owning a business can often mean that if you get sick or injured, you get a double-whammy: the illness (with its expenses) and no more income. Insurance is extremely important.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners have a tutorial which explains the forms of insurance and gives tips for evaluating insurance options. Go to http://www.insureuonline.org/smallbusiness/
Below are some basic forms of insurance. Only workers compensation is required by law. However, some landlords and businesses involving hazards will only conduct business with you if you have proof of insurance.
Types of business insurance
- Property insurance: For theft or fire. Earthquake and flood protection must be purchased separately.
- Liability insurance: If you are sued by someone
- Business interruption: Provides substitute income if your business is damaged from theft or fire.
- Key person insurance and group life insurance: Provides a lump-sum payment if a key person dies or cannot work anymore.
- Home-Based business insurance: Covers items not normally covered with a homeowners policy, such as inventory and office machines.
- Commercial auto: Covers you and your employees for work-related accidents.
- Workers compensation insurance: Required by law for businesses with employees. Pays for expenses and provides income if employees are injured while performing the job.
- Health insurance: Pays for medical expenses (except expenses covered by workers compensation insurance).
Talk to an agent: Every business owner should discuss their insurance needs with an authorized agent. In particular, home occupation businesses should review their homeowner's policy to determine whether that policy covers their home business.
On-the-job injuries: If you have employees, you are required by law to carry workers compensation insurance. However, this insurance is generally not available to business owners. Instead, sole proprietors and partners must carry their own health and disability insurance.
Ask vendors for certificate of insurance: Before you conduct business with others - especially if they will handle your products or will perform a potentially hazardous job (even driving a car), ask them to provide you a certificate of insurance from their insurance carrier.