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auto

Small Business Insurance: What It Is And What It Covers

Small business insurance, sometimes called commercial insurance, helps protect a business’s assets, property and income. A business owners policy (BOP) is the most common policy for small businesses, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A BOP typically includes three basic types of coverage to help protect a business: business property coverage, general liability coverage and business interruption coverage.

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If you’re a small business owner, you may also be able to buy additional insurance coverages to customize your policy based on your specific operation and needs.

WHAT DOES SMALL BUSINESS INSURANCE COVER?

Depending on the coverage you choose, a business owners policy helps protect your business against things like financial losses and covered perils. Covered perils may include theft, fire, wind, falling objects and lightning. It’s important to read your policy documents carefully to understand which coverages are included and what perils are covered by your insurer.

Each coverage in your BOP has a coverage limit. A limit is the maximum amount your insurer will pay for a covered claim. It’s also important to note that each coverage in a policy is typically subject to its own limit.

And, some coverages may come with a deductible. A deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket toward a covered claim.

 

BUSINESS PROPERTY COVERAGE

The property coverage in a business owners policy helps protect your business’s building and its contents against covered perils. For example, if there is a fire at your business, a BOP may help pay for building repairs (if you own the building). This coverage also helps replace business property, such as office furniture, computers or machinery.

Keep in mind that business property coverage will be subject to a deductible and limits. You can typically choose your property coverage limits based on the estimated cost to repair, rebuild or replace your business’s property. But, if your losses exceed the coverage limit you chose, you’ll then need to pay out of pocket to finish building repairs or replacement of your business’s property. It’s important to note that having insufficient policy limits may also result in a penalty. This is a fine you’d need to pay for not purchasing enough insurance. To help avoid penalties, make sure you purchase enough insurance to cover your business and its contents.

 

GENERAL LIABILITY COVERAGE

A business owners policy usually includes general liability coverage (sometimes called commercial general liability, or CGL). If a customer or visitor is injured at your business, and you’re found liable, general liability coverage may help pay for the injured party’s medical expenses. It may also help pay for legal costs if you’re taken to court over an accident that occurred at your business.

Commercial general liability insurance is also subject to a coverage limit. That means if an injured person’s medical bills exceed your coverage limit, you may have to pay out of pocket to cover the rest.

 

BUSINESS INTERRUPTION COVERAGE

Business interruption coverage, sometimes called business income coverage, is also typically part of a business owners policy. This coverage helps replace lost income and extra expenses if your business is affected by a covered peril.

For example, say a tornado or fire makes your office uninhabitable. Business interruption coverage may help pay for rent costs at a temporary office while repairs are made. Business interruption coverage may also help replace lost business income due to a covered peril. Similar to other coverages in a BOP, you will be subject to a limit. You may also be subject to a time period. This means the coverage may only last for 6 months, for example, so be sure to ask an agent about specific limits.

 

ADDITIONAL BUSINESS INSURANCE COVERAGES

There may be additional coverages you can add to your business owners policy. Some available coverages may include:

  • Errors and omissions insurance (also known as miscellaneous professional liability insurance)
  • Data compromise coverage
  • Business auto insurance
  • Employment practices liability coverage
  • Equipment breakdown coverage
  • Outdoor property coverage

Talk to your agent about your specific business insurance needs, so they can help you customize your policy with coverages that may work for your situation.

 

HOW MUCH DOES SMALL BUSINESS INSURANCE COST?

The cost of a small business insurance policy depends on many factors. These factors may include what kind of business you’re insuring, the types of optional coverage you choose and the deductibles and limits you select for each coverage. Get a small business insurance quote or talk to an agent to get an idea of what you might pay for a policy.

Categories
auto

Liability Insurance: How To Stay Protected

Auto liability insurance is a type of car insurance coverage that’s required by law in most states. If you cause a car accident — in other words, if you are liable for the accident — liability coverage helps pay for the other person’s expenses.

Auto liability coverage comes in two forms: bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage. Drivers in most states must have both types of coverage.

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WHAT IS COVERED BY LIABILITY INSURANCE?

Many types of insurance policies include liability insurance. Generally speaking, it helps pay to repair another person’s property or for their medical bills if the policyholder is found responsible for causing the damage or injuries.

Auto liability insurance helps cover another person’s medical expenses and property damage via these two types of coverage:

Bodily injury liability coverage (sometimes abbreviated as “BI”)

 

  • If you’re at fault for an accident that injures another person, bodily injury liability coverage helps pay for their medical expenses. For instance, this coverage can help you avoid paying out of your own pocket for the injured person’s X-rays and treatment.

 

Property damage liability coverage (sometimes abbreviated as “PD”)

 

  • If you cause an accident that damages someone else’s property (their car, for example), property damage liability coverage helps pay for repairs. For example, if you rear-end another car, this coverage can help prevent you from paying out of pocket to repair the other driver’s vehicle.

 

 

LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE LIMITS

The amount your insurer will pay for a covered liability insurance claim depends on the coverage limits you choose. Each state sets minimum coverage limits for bodily injury liability and property damage liability that drivers must purchase, but you may decide to buy additional coverage. You may see three liability coverage limits on your car insurance policy:

Property damage liability limit.

 

  • This is the maximum amount your insurer would pay to repair damage you cause to another party’s property. The maximum payout would not exceed the limit you’ve set.

 

Bodily injury liability limit per person.

 

  • This establishes a maximum payout for each individual who is injured in an accident that you cause.

 

Bodily injury liability limit per accident.

 

  • This sets a cap on the total amount that your insurance provider will pay out for all medical expenses other people incur from a single accident you cause. It’s important to set this limit at an amount that makes you comfortable, as it may be needed to help pay for the medical expenses incurred by multiple people.

 

Most insurers package bodily injury and property damage limits together. For example, you may be able to purchase auto liability coverage with limits like the following:

 

  • 25/50/10 ($25,000 BI per person limit, $50,000 BI per accident limit, $10,000 property damage limit)
    or
  • 100/300/50 ($100,000 BI per person limit, $300,000 BI per accident limit, $50,000 property damage limit)

 

Your coverage limits will depend on the packages your insurer offers — in other words, you may not be able to choose standalone limits for bodily injury or property damage coverage.

HOW MUCH DOES LIABILITY INSURANCE COST?

The amount you’ll pay for liability insurance is based on a number of factors, including how much coverage you purchase. The higher your coverage limit, the more you’ll likely pay for liability insurance. Your insurance agent can tell you how much your coverage will cost if you adjust your limit.

HOW MUCH LIABILITY INSURANCE SHOULD YOU BUY?

Any costs that exceed your liability coverage limits are your responsibility — in other words, you’d have to pay them out of your own pocket. That’s why it may be a good idea to increase your auto liability limits above the state’s minimum requirements by purchasing more coverage.

Consider the following: You are at fault for a crash that injured three people in another car. Your bodily injury liability limit per person is $50,000 and your bodily injury limit per accident is $100,000. If Person 1’s medical bills total $40,000, Person 2’s cost $30,000 and Person 3’s cost $25,000, you’re likely covered. Each person’s bills were under $50,000 (your bodily injury limit per person), and the total cost of injuries is $95,000, which is lower than your $100,000 bodily injury limit for a single accident.

But suppose all three people had $50,000 in medical bills, totaling $150,000. In that case, your bodily injury liability coverage would pay $100,000 toward those bills, and you may need to cover the remaining $50,000 yourself.

WHAT DOESN’T LIABILITY INSURANCE COVER?

Liability coverage typically doesn’t pay to repair damage to your own car after an accident — collision coverage helps with that. It also doesn’t pay to repair damage caused by other factors, such as hail, which may be paid by comprehensive coverage.

Liability coverage also does not extend to costs associated with your own injuries after an accident you cause. If you want this type of coverage, you may want to consider medical payments coverage. Your insurance agent can help answer questions about auto liability insurance or your state’s coverage requirements.

Talk to a local insurance agent to discuss your options and choose appropriate liability coverage limits for your situation.

QUIZ: AUTO LIABILITY INSURANCE

Auto liability coverage helps pay for (select all that apply):
Your medical bills
Repairs to your car
Someone else’s medical bills
Damage to someone else’s property
Vehicle maintenance
Your legal costs
Categories
auto

What Is Comprehensive Insurance?

Comprehensive insurance is a coverage that helps pay to replace or repair your vehicle if it’s stolen or damaged in an incident that’s not a collision. Comprehensive, sometimes called “other than collision” coverage, typically covers damage from fire, vandalism or falling objects (like a tree or hail). If you’re financing or leasing your car, your lender likely requires comprehensive coverage. If you own your vehicle outright, it’s an optional coverage on your car insurance policy.

If you’re shopping for auto insurance or are reviewing your current policy, you may want to consider comprehensive coverage. Learn what comprehensive insurance helps protect, how it is different from collision coverage and how limits and deductibles apply to the coverage.

WHAT IS COVERED BY COMPREHENSIVE INSURANCE?

Comprehensive helps cover damage to your car that’s not the result of a collision, such as:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Fire
  • Natural disasters (like a hurricane or a tornado)
  • Falling objects
  • Damage done to your car by animals
  • A civil disturbance (like a riot that results in damage or destruction of your car)

 

WHAT’S NOT COVERED

 

  • Damage to your car from a collision
  • Damage to another person’s vehicle from a collision
  • Your (or your passengers’) medical expenses after an accident

 

COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE DEDUCTIBLES AND LIMITS

When you purchase comprehensive coverage, you will select a set deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket toward a covered claim. Let’s say you choose a $500 deductible, and your car is later damaged by hail in a covered claim. If it costs $1,500 to repair your car, you would pay your $500 deductible, and your insurance would pay the remaining $1,000.

Comprehensive coverage has a limit, or the maximum amount your policy will pay toward a covered claim. The limit on comprehensive coverage is typically the actual cash value of your vehicle.

If your car is stolen, for example, your insurance company would reimburse you for your car’s depreciated value, minus your deductible. In other words, if you wanted to replace your stolen vehicle with a newer make and model, you would likely have to use some of your own money to do so, in addition to using the reimbursement from your insurer.

Keep in mind that the comprehensive deductible and limit are separate from your policy’s collision deductible and limit.

CHOOSING A COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE DEDUCTIBLE

Your insurer will offer comprehensive deductible amounts in set increments, such as $500, $1,000 or $1,500. Choosing a higher comprehensive deductible generally means your premiums will be lower, which can save money upfront. However, you may have to pay more out of pocket toward a covered claim. Likewise, choosing a lower comprehensive deductible means the amount you pay for coverage will increase. Your agent can help you determine what deductible and limits fit your needs.

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COLLISION AND COMPREHENSIVE INSURANCE?

Collision coverage helps pay to repair your car if it’s damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object, such as a fence. Generally, collision coverage comes into play because a driver gets into a car accident.

Comprehensive is a separate coverage from collision. It helps cover different types of losses that are usually not the result of driving the vehicle, such as theft, hail or fallen trees.

 

Comprehensive Insurance vs. Collision Insurance

 

 

Feature Comprehensive Coverage Collision Coverage
What’s Covered Non-collision damage to your vehicle, such as:

  • Theft
  • Falling objects
  • Fire
  • Natural disasters
  • Animal damage
Damage to your vehicle from:

  • Collision with another vehicle
  • Collision with an object, such as a fence
  • Single-car rollover accidents
Deductible Yes Yes
Coverage Limit Actual cash value Actual cash value
Required or Optional? Required if leasing or financing vehicle. Otherwise optional. Required if leasing or financing vehicle. Otherwise optional.
What’s Not Covered
  • Damage to another person’s vehicle
  • Medical bills (yours, your passengers’, other drivers’, other passengers’)
  • Damage to another person’s vehicle
  • Medical bills (yours, your passengers’, other drivers’, other passengers’)

 

WHY BUY COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE?

If you’re wondering whether you should buy comprehensive coverage, here are a few considerations:

  • Comprehensive coverage may be required by your car’s lender.
    If you’re leasing or financing your vehicle, your lender may require you to have comprehensive and collision coverage until the vehicle is paid off.
  • How old is your car and what is it worth?
    If you have paid off your car, comprehensive coverage is optional. It may be a good idea to find out the Kelley Blue Book value of your vehicle. Would you be able to pay that amount to repair or replace your vehicle if it were stolen or damaged in an accident? If you can’t afford to pay much out of pocket, then buying optional coverages, like comprehensive coverage and collision coverage, may be a smart investment.
  • How much are the annual premiums for comprehensive and collision coverage?
    The Insurance Information Institute suggests that you take the amount you’d pay in one year for comprehensive and collision coverage, and multiply that number by 10. Is your car worth less than that number? Then comprehensive and collision coverage might not be a cost-effective option for you. In other words, you might want to talk to your agent about whether it makes sense to include these coverages on your car insurance policy.

Have questions about comprehensive coverage? Talk to a local agent.

Categories
auto

What To Do After A Car Accident: A Step-By-Step Guide

When you get into a car accident, there are certain steps you may want to take in order to help make sure everyone is safe, to follow the law and to get the insurance claim process started.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the following steps may help guide you through important decisions you need to make if you’ve been in a car accident, whether you were at fault for the accident or not.
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STEP 1: CHECK YOURSELF FOR INJURIES.
If you’re injured, call 911 or ask someone else to do so. If you’re seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency personnel.

STEP 2: CHECK ON THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR PASSENGERS.
If you’re not too hurt to move, check on the other passengers in your car. If anyone’s injured, get on the phone with emergency services or ask a bystander to call for help.

STEP 3: GET TO SAFETY.
If you’re able to, move to the side of the road or a sidewalk. If your car is safe to drive and is causing a hazard where it is, pull it to the side of the road. Otherwise, leave it where it is and get yourself to safety.
STEP 4: CALL 911.
Whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important — and in some states, it’s legally required. The responding officers will fill out an accident report and document the scene. If the police can’t come to the scene of the accident, you can go to the nearest police station and complete a report yourself, according to the III. When you file a claim with your insurer, they may ask for a copy of the police report to help with the claims process.

Click on button to view infographic.
STEP 5: WAIT FOR HELP.
Turn off your engine, turn on your hazard lights and use the road flares in your emergency car kit to warn other vehicles to slow down.

STEP 6: EXCHANGE INFORMATION.
After making sure you and any passengers are uninjured, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. According to the III, here’s the most important information drivers should exchange after an accident:

Full name and contact information
Insurance company and policy number
Driver’s license and license plate number
Type, color and model of vehicle
Location of accident
The III recommends that you avoid discussing fault when going over the facts with the other driver. When you file an insurance claim, the adjuster reviewing your claim will determine who’s at fault based on an inspection of the vehicles/property damaged, information provided by you and the other parties involved in the accident, and any supporting documentation, like the police report or photographs from the scene.

STEP 7: DOCUMENT THE ACCIDENT.
In order to help protect yourself, the III recommends taking the following steps:

Identify the officers.
Once the police arrive, get the name and badge number of all responding officers.
Get a copy.
Ask the police officers present where you can obtain a copy of the accident report. Your insurer may ask for a copy of the report when you file a car insurance claim.
Take pictures.
Document the accident thoroughly by taking pictures of your vehicle from different angles, showing the damage done to both cars. It might also be a good idea to take pictures of the other car’s license plate. You may be able to share photos with your insurer during the claims process to help support your claim.
Take down names.
Write down the names and addresses of all parties involved, including any passengers in the other vehicle.
Talk to witnesses.
If there were any witnesses to the accident, take down their names and their contact information, as well.

To help keep all of this documentation in order, you can keep this accident information page in your vehicle.

STEP 8: NOTIFY YOUR INSURER AND START THE CLAIMS PROCESS.
You may want to call your insurance agent while you’re at the scene. That way, they can tell you exactly what they will need to in order to process your claim and what to expect during the claims process.

An accident can leave even the most seasoned driver frazzled, but following these steps may help protect you from unnecessary worries. That way, you can focus on working with your insurance company to get your vehicle repaired as smoothly and as quickly as possible.