Business & Commercial Insurance
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Business & Commercial Insurance Information
Whether your business is a mom and pop shop or a large corporation, a well-tailored insurance program should be an integral part of your business plan. In addition to protecting physical assets and providing important liability protection against lawsuits, there are many other types of coverages that may be needed. These are the common Business and Commercial insurance contracts that we help our clients purchase:
Commercial Property Insurance:
A Commercial Property policy provides coverage for the real and personal property that your business owns or for which you might be responsible. This includes tangible assets such as buildings, improvements to leased space, equipment, inventory and other business contents. Most policies are easily extended to include Business Interruption and Extra Expense coverage. This insurance covers “typical” losses such as Fire, Wind, Theft, etc. but the policies we routinely place go far beyond these causes of loss. We almost always place what is commonly referred to as “All-Risk” coverage, but that phrase can be misleading. It really means is that the carrier will cover all risks of physical loss, except what is excluded. The exclusions will include Flood, Earthquake, Insects and Vermin and a host of other things. Our staff is always available to go through the policy form to help make clear what is covered and what is not.
Whether your business is large or small, the risk of lawsuits are inherent in owning a business. General Liability protects your business for claims alleging Bodily Injury, Property Damage to others, Advertising Injury, and Personal Injury such as libel and slander. Claims brought by third parties may arise from your company's products or from an accident on your property. The contracts that you enter into with Landlords, Tenants and Subcontractors are often critical when a claim occurs, so we welcome the opportunity to comment on insurance issues when these are being negotiated. The absence of a written contract does not mean you did not enter into a contract, and in either case, the insurance implications are significant. You can be certain that insurance company claims representatives ask to see contracts when a lawsuit is filed. We’ll talk to you about your business, the risks you face, and what type of insurance might be available. At Mintz Girgan & Brightly, we like assume a hypothetical lawsuit before any accident happens, and help you place insurance to transfer this risk to an insurance company when possible.
If your business owns or leases private passenger automobiles or trucks, you need to carry a Commercial Auto Policy. This will offer a variety of different coverages including Liability, Physical Damage, Medical Payments for bodily injury, and coverage for Uninsured Motorists. You also face the risk of employees using their personal automobiles on your behalf. We can cover this exposure in one of two ways: adding it to the a Commercial Auto policy or extending the General Liability insurance. We’ll also talk with you about the exposure of rented vehicles, and help you place the proper coverage.
Workers Compensation laws were created to ensure that employees who are injured on the job will have their medical bills paid and be provided with partial payment of their lost wages. In almost all cases, when you carry Workers Compensation insurance an injured worker cannot sue you for the “pain and suffering” associated with the injury. We think the system actually works quite well and the cost of this insurance would be far higher if all serious injuries required legal representation before an injured worker could collect benefits. However, that does not mean the premiums are insignificant. The rates for this insurance are established by compensation bureaus in each state and your total premium will be a function of what type of work you do and your actual payroll. We can help make sure that your employees are properly classified, that you have obtained certificates of insurance from all subcontractors, and one of our jobs is to look for all available discounts and dividends offered by insurance companies. All policies are subject to audit by the insurance carrier, but we are here to help you prepare for that audit and assist you if the audit is done incorrectly.
Do I need Workers Compensation insurance?
If you have employees, the answer is yes. If you own your own business, the answer depends on what form of business you have set up. For example, a sole proprietor does not need to carry the insurance, but a corporation must. Whether required or not, you may choose to protect yourself from work-related injuries. Do you use subcontractors who do not carry their own Workers Compensation insurance? It is not uncommon for a seriously injured subcontractor (without Workers Compensation insurance) to claim that an employment relationship existed and seek Workers Compensation benefits. Talk to us about your business and we’ll guide you through the decision-making process.
Umbrella (Excess) Liability:
Accidents do happen, and someone in your organization could cause a very serious injury. The legal environment in which we all operate suggests that your business be adequately protected in the event of a loss. Multi-million dollar settlements currently being awarded by the court system have become commonplace. Therefore, every business needs to consider purchasing an additional layer of liability protection over and above the coverage amounts provided in Commercial General Liability and Commercial Auto policies.
Employment Practices Liability:
Employment Practices Liability insurance protects a company from claims made by an employee, former employee or potential employee who alleges that their legal rights have been violated. Employment related claims include discrimination, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment. Cases against employers are on the rise, and every business is vulnerable to a lawsuit. Even if the case proves to be baseless, the defense of such a lawsuit can be very expensive. Any firm can be the victim of an employment related lawsuit, and this important coverage should receive serious consideration.
Fiduciary Liability is insurance for those involved with the administration of company-sponsored benefit plans. It is commonly purchased to protect the trustees of pension and 401K plans but the coverage typically extends to other plans such as Group Health insurance. The need for this coverage became clear after the passage of the ERISA Act of 1974 which placed potential personal liability on the trustees of these plans. This act also required the purchase of Dishonesty coverage to protect the assets of pension plans from theft. This gave rise to the phrase “ERISA Bond” and much confusion has ensued since that time. An ERISA Bond is actually a Crime policy and does NOT provide liability protection. Fiduciary Liability provides protection for claims alleging wrongful acts and does not provide theft coverage. These policies should not only cover past, present and future trustees, but also employees of the sponsoring organization.
Cargo - Inland and Ocean Marine:
Risks are unavoidable in the shipping of goods. Ocean Marine insurance was actually the first type of insurance developed hundreds of years ago to protect the owners of ships and the cargo they carried from the many perils faced from this type of transportation. Ocean Cargo insurance provides coverage for goods while being shipped across the ocean. Perils typically insured against include: collision of the ship with another ship or object; the ship sinking, capsizing or being stranded; fire; piracy; and war. If your business is involved in the importing of goods or raw materials or exporting finished products, this coverage is critical.
Inland Marine or Transit coverage protects against loss to moving property over land and is an outgrown of Ocean Marine insurance. The goods are covered while being transported via common carrier, air, or your own trucks.
A Bond is a legal contract in which the bonding company promises to pay one party (the oblige) a stated amount if a second party (the principal) fails to do something. Many different types of bonds exist. There are bonds that guarantee faithful and honest performance. Some guarantee the performance of work contracts. Others include license and permit bonds, judicial bonds, and miscellaneous bonds. Although commonly placed by insurance brokers, If you or your company are required to purchase a Bond, understand that this is not insurance for you; it is financial protection for the entity requiring the Bond. If the bonding company has to make a payment to the oblige, you can be certain they’ll be looking to be reimbursed by the principal. That is why the underwriting done by bonding companies is very much like what banks do when considering a loan.