Five Questions to Ask When Choosing a General Liability Insurance Provider

As a small-business owner, you know that protecting your investment is just part of what it means to run a business. If you don't, all of the hard work, time and resources you've put into it can be easily lost. That's why business insurance exists. You can't prevent every mishap, but you can make sure you have a plan B just in case. General Liability Insurance is one fundamental type of business insurance that can form the foundation for a strong safeguard for your company.

What is Business Liability Insurance?

Business liability insurance, in a nutshell, protects businesses from risk of loss if a client or other party sues them for something they may be liable for. Every business could potentially cause at least some level of injury, damage or loss to other parties and properties. Specifically, General Liability Insurance covers against claims of liability from third-party property damage, third-party personal injury, business actions of your employees, and other areas – so for example, if a client falls and hurts themselves on your premises and sues you, your GLI would protect you from financial loss from that liability. If a business doesn't have liability insurance in place, then even one lawsuit could be enough to wipe them out. This is why choosing carefully among General Liability Insurance companies is so crucial.

Choosing Among General Liability Insurance Companies

All businesses are unique, and likewise each comes with its own list of unique risks. Keep this in mind when searching for a insurance provider for your business. For example, if you're providing professional services as a core of your business, bear in mind that a General Liability policy isn't likely to go far enough – you'll also need Professional Liability ( aka Errors & Omissions ) to cover alleged or actual negligence committed while providing your professional service (such as accounting or consulting). Or if your business operates in a niche and needs a highly specialized type of liability insurance, a typical GLI provider may not cut it if they don't also have the experience and expertise necessary to watch out for your business.

Five Questions to Ask When Choosing a Business Insurance Agent

Knowing what questions to ask when looking for a General Liability Insurance agent is essential to get your business protected properly, and will save you more than a few headaches. Here are five questions you can ask during your search.

1. Do they have the right experience?

It's a common tendency among business owners buying business insurance for the first time to go with whoever handles their personal insurance. While this impulse is totally understandable, it can cause problems if your personal insurance provider doesn't have the same level of expertise in business insurance as they do in personal insurance. Or the company may not even provide the business insurance products you actually need. This could leave you unnecessarily exposed to risks in your business.

This is why it's essential to find an insurance agency that directly specializes in business insurance. Their background and experience will help you determine what specific types and levels of coverage work for you, as well as help you locate any coverage gaps or areas of over-coverage.

2. Can They Provide Adequate Liability Insurance?

If you're past thinking about getting business insurance through your personal insurance provider, and are now thinking about finding a business insurance company, your top priority should be to determine whether the company can provide adequate liability insurance for your business.

If you require highly specialized insurance or highly customized coverage, or you operate in a niche industry, then you not only need a business insurance agent, you need a business insurance agent who has truly deep and nuanced small-business expertise. Without access to the specific insurance packages that cover the specific products or services you provide, you could end up paying for insurance that won't actually protect you as it should.

3. Do They Offer Multiple Types of Business Insurance?

General Liability Insurance ( GLI )protects you from a lot of risks, and is one of the cornerstones of just about any adequate business insurance plan, but it's not the only type you're likely to need. Your business almost certainly has other risks and areas of liability – such as property, employees, and common GLI exclusions like professional services – that will also need to be covered.

Chances are, a great General Liability provider will also offer other fundamentals like Property Insurance, Workers' Comp and Professional Liability Insurance. Your agent will be able to help you put together a comprehensive plan that properly protects all areas of your business, property, and liability. This ensures you're protected all around and streamlines your coverage to make it easier to review and manage. Plus, working with one insurance company that is familiar with all aspects of your business makes it easier for them to help you identify any coverage gaps or over-coverage.

4. Can They Grow with You?

Careful consideration of the long term is just part of making good business decisions. Likewise, if you're just starting your business and hoping to grow, you'll obviously want to go with an insurance agent that is equipped to grow right along with you. Getting yourself past the "here and now" approach to getting business insurance coverage will make it easier to stay properly covered as your business expands.

Ask yourself a few questions about how you expect your company to grow. Where do you think you'll be in one year? Five years? Will you be offering the same products, or adding more? Will you be adding any new services?

You'll want to be sure that your business insurance provider can help you accomplish these goals and keep up with changes in your business. If you don't feel certain that a particular company can keep pace with the path your business is going, then obviously you may want to continue looking.

5. Can You Trust Your Insurance Agent?

As with any business, trusting your agent means being satisfied with the customer service they provide. Agents who seem to put their own commissions over providing their customers with insurance that actually fits and protects them are obviously a thing to avoid. Business insurance agents that really see the value in protecting small businesses – which is, after all, what business insurance is designed to do – will be there for you when you need them.

Choosing a insurance agent from all the options available is among the most critical decisions you'll need to make when running a business. Making sure that this insurance fundamental is taken care of, and that the company can also keep up with your other insurance needs, is a top priority. You'll want a provider who actually cares about your business and can stick with you for the long run. If you do your homework and ask these questions while choosing your agent, you're well on your way to getting your business protected properly.

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