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General Liability Insurance for Small businesses was provided by guest author, Ben Walker.

Before you launch your business, there are a lot of moving parts and pieces that all need to come together. Some of the obvious are getting a business license, a website, and a bank account.

Did you know that your checklist should also include general liability insurance?

All it takes is a slip and fall to make you and your business responsible for someone’s medical bill, or worse. You could end up in a lawsuit. It may seem like another expense that interferes with starting a business.

On the contrary, it can help generate more business.

My company is in the transcription business. I made sure we had general liability insurance before we opened for business. Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements are something that almost all transcriptionists are familiar with. In one instance, we were asked to transcribe some interviews for a Fortune 500 company in the healthcare industry.

Our general liability insurance put the client’s mind at ease.

The client also asked to be included as an insured before we started the project.  If the transcripts of these interviews were to somehow become public, my insurance policy would have protected my business from potential lawsuits.

If you haven’t already, you should look into getting general liability insurance for your small business or proprietorship.

What Does General Liability Insurance for a Business Cover?

General liability insurance covers certain lawsuits like customer injuries, customer property damage, advertising infringement, and reputation damage.

Therefore, general liability insurance is one of the first policies a small business owner should get. What the policy covers can vary based on the insurance provider, but it typically covers the cost of a legal team, witnesses, cost of evidence, and the final amount of damages owed to the other party if you were to lose a legal decision.

Everyone hopes to never have to experience going through a lawsuit. It is best to be prepared though, as no one can predict the future.

What Does General Liability Insurance for a Small Business not Cover?

General liability insurance typically doesn’t cover events like employee workplace accidents, damage to your business property, or data breaches. Other insurance policies exist that can cover those situations.

It all depends on what type of business you have and how large of a risk your business is to an insurance company.

Who Needs General Liability Insurance?

It is a good business practice for all companies to have some sort of general liability insurance policy. All businesses need something to rely on in case things go awry.

You may be thinking “why would I need that for my business?” After all, you’ve spent enough money already on the other things it takes to start a business. This happens to be one expense that you should splurge on, in my humble opinion.

What Risks Do You Face by Not Having General Liability Insurance?

There is a long list of risks a small business faces when it chooses to forego general liability insurance. Here are a few examples that aren’t so far-fetched:

  • A marketing company that accidentally uses another company’s logo can face copyright infringement issues. Should that occur, that company can file for a copyright infringement claim.
  • A business that does projects for government agencies or any type of law agency. General liability insurance will protect your company in the event a client’s private information is leaked to the public. The same goes for medical information. Even if an employee is responsible for letting that information out, you (the business owner) are on the hook. You will be the one sitting in court alongside a very upset client, not the employee.

Don’t let cost stand in your way from investing in a general liability insurance policy. The IRS considers insurance a cost of owning and running a business. Businesses are usually able to deduct general liability insurance as it is what is covering the cost of any potential legal expenses.

You must keep reminding yourself about the long-term benefits. Having it in your back pocket sure comes in handy when a new prospect asks you for a copy of your general liability insurance.  Trust me, this has happened to me when I was a new-ash company and no one had heard of us yet.

How Do I Determine what Type of General Liability Coverage I Need?

A business in an office setting will need different coverage than the business whose clients have outdoor projects. Someone who is on top of roofs all day will need insurance that protects them from physical injury. Meanwhile, a business that runs solely from the office will need coverage in case someone hacks their data.

Choosing an insurance broker is very important. First, you should get several quotes to compare. You should compare the following items; the cost of the deductible, premium, damages covered and not covered. Most important of all is the quality of an insurance company’s customer service. After all, in the worst of times, you need someone who genuinely cares about getting you back up and running.

Review Your Policy with an Agent

After you’ve found the right coverage, keep on top of any upcoming changes that could affect your policy. Most agencies require you to renew annually, which will require a signature. Be sure nothing has changed since the year prior. Laws and regulations are always changing and can impact your policy. Or, if there is a major change to your business, make sure you speak with your agent and confirm you are still covered. A small change to your business may be a big change to the way it is insured.

What Does General Liability Insurance Cost?

The question on every business owner’s mind. Before an insurance company can give you that answer, they need to know more than what type of business you own. They’ll ask simple questions to get to know more about your background. How long you have been in business? What does your payroll look like? What is your history of claims prior to this point. Low-risk businesses could pay a few hundred dollars per year, whereas high-risk ones can pay thousands.

How Much General Liability Insurance Should You Get?

The most common coverage limit for a small business is around one or two million dollars. As your business grows, you should increase the amount of coverage as well. Even the most expensive policies to get the most coverage are worth buying when it boils down to the hassle and cost of a lawsuit.

General Liability Puts Your Clients at Ease

Are you a web design company who is online with a client’s information all day? The biggest fear you probably have is the possibility that their information gets hacked and put out on the web.

Companies put themselves on the line in the case where a client’s information is breached. General liability insurance is one way to protect yourself from malicious attempts to attack your servers and get access to your data. The same goes for any of the other services previously mentioned. Lawsuits can damage your business reputation and financial standing. To put both your mind at ease, as well as your client’s, general liability insurance is a must.

Want the public to know more about you and your services? Let them find out through advertising and positive reviews, not negative press. Even a small business can end up in the news for a data breach or injured employee. You become a more desirable candidate to work with when you mention that you have general liability insurance. It shows that you have a client’s best interest in mind and you are a responsible business owner.

About the Author:  

Ben Walker is a CEO, entrepreneur and visionary leader who enjoys helping others become successful in business. Ben’s company, Transcription Outsourcing provides user-friendly and cost-effective transcription services for the medical, legal, law enforcement and financial industries for organizations all over the world. Ben is a sought-after thought leader and has made contributions to publications like Entrepreneur Magazine, Built in Colorado, CoBiz Magazine and LinkedIn.