Protecting Your Business: Important Considerations For Purchasing Liability Insurance

If you own a business, the costs of a lawsuit could cost you everything; in an effort to cut operating costs, many may fail to go without liability insurance, figuring their chances of being sued are low. But, in a world where frivolous claims and sue-happy people are rampant, it would be foolish to think you do not need that protection just in case. Here are some important considerations for purchasing this all-important protection for your business.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Look into Trade Association Memberships

In many instances, you can purchase products and services at a discounted rate through membership in some sort of organization. When it comes to liability insurance, belonging to a trade association relevant to your business may help you get better rates; this type of membership may also other benefits to your business so it is something worth considering regardless.

Look for a Broker that Specializes in Your Industry

Different industries have different needs when it comes to insurance and other types of products; they each also face unique challenges and have unique concerns. When shopping for liability insurance for your business, you should look for a broker that specializes in your industry. His knowledge of your type of of business and the risks it faces will help guide you in putting together the best policy to meet your needs at the best prices.

Examine Industry Settlements

When deciding on the proper amount of coverage, it is important to have an idea of what type of money you may be looking at should you get sued. Take a look at recent legal actions and settlements against businesses similar to yours. This will help you get an accurate estimate of how much money you would need to fully protect yourself.

Consider a Combination Policy

Liability insurance is not the only type of coverage a business should have. Maintaining separate policies will often result in paying more in premiums than you need to. But, when going this route, it is important to have a full understanding of what is included and what is not. These policies do not typically include all types of business insurance you are interested in purchasing. Examples of what is typically included besides general liability are property, business interruption and business vehicles.

Errors and omissions insurance, also called professional liability insurance, needs to be purchased separately. While general liability insurance is designed to cover things such as injury or property damage, this type of coverage is designed to protect against claims of professional negligence in which a customer believes your services caused them a financial loss.

Check Coverage Periodically

Your liability insurance is not just set it and forget it; as your business grows, it is important to carefully review your policy each year to see if any changes need to be made. After working so hard to build your business, you would not want to risk it because you failed to upgrade your coverage. If you feel you may need to make changes, contact your broker who can offer you sound advice.

About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of business topics; if you are in need of liability or other types of commercial insurance in Canada, she recommends you visit Kanetix.ca.

Could Your Employee Medical Records Be Needed in Malpractice Lawsuits?

Most small business owners and other entrepreneurs never fully contemplate all of the issues that they’ll face once they start running their own business. Some of the most unforeseen outcomes are those related to the legal world. These issues can include liability insurance, personal injury claims and even environmental damage lawsuits. One legal issue that many business owners are likely to come across, however, is subpoenas for medical documents related to their employees. These are sometimes needed in medical malpractice lawsuits, and unfortunately, they can sometimes leave employers in a little legal trouble of their own.

medical records

Why Medical Records May Be Subpoenaed

There are numerous reasons why, in a medical malpractice lawsuit, an employer may be asked to hand over certain information about their employees medical health. The main reason, however, is to prove whether or not an employee had any illnesses or injuries before their medical mishap. Interestingly enough, several employee documents can help in these situations, including:

Employee insurance plans
Documentation related to sick days taken
Previous workers’ comp claims
Documentation of other issues at work

As previously mentioned, these documents can go towards showing whether a person had prior injuries or illnesses, and this can be vital during a medical malpractice suit. This type of suit, whether you consult a Montana lawyer or a Maryland medical malpractice attorney, must show that a doctor provided a sub-par level of care when compared to others in his field. In addition, this sub-par level of care must be what contributed to the harm that a patient received.

All of this simply means that even if a doctor was negligent in his level of care, he won’t have to pay compensation if he can prove that a patient was already having issues in relation to the alleged damage caused by the neglectful care. Similarly, these documents can go towards proving that an employee had been perfectly healthy before undergoing treatment from their doctor. In a medical malpractice suit, these records could be detrimental for either party to the suit.

When Employers May Disclose Info

Unfortunately, whenever parties of a medical malpractice suit decide to drag an employer into the mix, it puts that employer in danger of being held legally liable for certain acts as well. This usually makes it pertinent for an employer to get advice from a medical malpractice lawyer on what their rights and responsibilities are in this specific situation. Since these specialized attorneys work in this world every day, they know what may or may not get a business owner in trouble.

One major issue employers can run into is the Privacy Act of 1974. This law prohibits certain information from being disclosed about an employee short of having that employee consent to its release. This isn’t a problem when it’s the employee requesting the information, but when a medical institution instigates the request, this can lead to trouble. There are twelve exemptions that would require employers to disclose this information anyway, such as having a court order (not necessarily a subpoena), so it’s important to have someone knowledgeable about this specific area of law on hand.

Medical malpractice is a complex issue, and usually only experienced lawyers in the field know all of the system’s nuances. This means that even though an employer may never be a party to a medical malpractice suit, they should at least speak with an attorney who specializes in it. This will ensure that they avoid any liabilities in the sometimes likely event that they’re approached for these employee records. It can literally mean the difference between simply handing over a few documents and ending up in court themselves.

A former TV news writer, Ann Bailey posts these pointers for business owners regarding their employee medical records. The Maryland medical malpractice attorney group at Price Benowitz, LLP conscientiously represents victims of medical malpractice and is also able to advise employers about medical recording for personal injury claims.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/buba69/2383197884/

Public Liability Insurance

There are a number of insurance types businesses are required to have and one of the latest ones is public liability insurance. This is not a legally required insurance but many businesses are finding they are missing out on business if they do not have this level of cover. Members of the general public in recent years have learned a lot about business insurance and as such are looking for proof of public liability insurance before they will hire trades people to complete work for them.

Public liability insurance, in its simplest terms, covers businesses against claims of damages and injury. Whether a customer’s property is damaged on the business premises or within the customer’s own home, or the customer themself is injured, the business will be covered against any claim put forward.

As with all insurance there are a number of aspects to look out for when buying public liability insurance. When looking at any policy it is important to keep a number of questions in mind: these include ‘what is included in the policy’ – does it cover every aspect of your business and the situations you work in? It is also important to check that the level of cover is enough for your business: if you do not take out the right level of cover you may find yourself having to pay out against claims that the policy does not cover.

Another important question to consider when looking for public liability insurance is if you can change your level of cover depending upon your needs. There is no point taking out a policy which won’t allow you to increase the level of cover as your business grows. Similarly, if your work is mainly seasonal you won’t want to be paying large amounts out on months where you aren’t getting much work in – look for a policy which can be flexible around your business needs.

Insurance Coverage – Is Your Small Business Protected?

You know that you need insurance coverage for your home, car, and even your health, but did you know that your business needs protection, as well?

Many entrepreneurs find themselves starting a business by chance, stumbling into being an entrepreneur, and making it up as they go along. The thought that they might need to purchase a business insurance policy probably doesn’t cross their mind.

Even the smallest of companies should look at what type of insurance coverage they need. While many small businesses probably could get away with a basic business owners policy, many other companies need specialized coverage. Depending on what industry you are in, what your company does, and if you have employees, your business insurance needs may include specialized coverages not found in a basic policy.

Basic Protection

If you are in business, then you need business insurance, period. The simplest policy you can get will include basic liability insurance protection, and should also have coverage for business property. If your company owns a building, you will need a property policy that covers the structure, as well as all of your other business property including computers, office furniture, etc.

No matter the size of your company, you need liability insurance for small business coverage. After all, if you are in business dealing with the public, or other companies, your company will be liable for its actions, as well as the actions of its employees. Depending on your situation, there is other specialized liability coverage that may be applicable to your business.

Specialty Protection

Business liability insurance coverage comes in many different forms, depending on the needs of your company. Following are some examples of liability coverage you may need to consider:

  • Vehicle insurance – Any company operating vehicles in the normal course of business should have a commercial auto insurance policy. Also, if you use a personal vehicle for business use, you will need a commercial policy. Most personal auto policies don’t provide coverage for business use.
  • Workers compensation insurance – If you have employees, then you may need to purchase workers compensation coverage. Most states require you to purchase this coverage once you have a certain number of employees, such as 4 or more. Workers compensation is a no-fault coverage that protects employees that are injured on the job.
  • Other coverage – You may need to purchase other specialized coverage including product liability insurance, surety or fidelity bonds, and errors and omissions insurance coverage. Discuss your company’s specific needs with a licensed commercial insurance broker to see what insurance coverage is right for your business.

Correct Coverage Levels

Once you have determined what type of business insurance coverage you need, you want to determine what levels of coverage you require. Your insurance policy limits should reflect the amount of exposure your business has. It does your company no good having the right insurance policies if the coverage limits are set too low.

No matter what type of business you own, you will need one form, or another, of business insurance coverage. Unless you are in the insurance business yourself, you may be having a difficult time figuring out what coverages you should purchase. This is where seeking professional advice is a great idea. Talk to a business insurance broker about what insurance your company needs, and discuss with your accountant what your coverage limits should be.

It is cheaper in the long run to purchase the business insurance coverage that you need now, rather than waiting until it is too late and being found liable for amounts that have the potential to put your company out of business. If you don’t have business insurance coverage, then get it today!

About the Author: Marshall Davis started Talking Small Biz (TalkingSmallBiz.com) to provide a source for small business services and product reviews. His website features products and services that help the entrepreneur start, grow, and maintain a successful business.

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Best Tips for Insuring Your Jewelry

Insurance is useful for a broad range of scenarios and aspects of our life. From life insurance to auto insurance, we’re all familiar with the concept, especially when it is required by law. However, there are a few details we may be ignoring, those of which can really be devastating when something does go wrong. Many of us have pieces of jewelry we hold very dear, particularly our engagement and wedding rings. These items not only hold great sentimental value, but also financial value, the cost of which can be crippling when it comes time to replace them. Continue reading Best Tips for Insuring Your Jewelry