If you look close enough, you’ll spot risks anywhere. Try it: look up from your screen and scan your location. Perhaps you’re in a coffee shop (where coffee burns are bona fide lawsuit makers). Maybe you’re looking out your home office window at the freezing rain (which can make your porch steps slick and cause visitors to fall).
When you look at the world this way, everything’s an adventure! But it also primes you for the kind of cause-and-effect thinking that can lead to stellar risk management.
Let’s take a roll call of people in your life who are small-business owners and see why their risks require some degree of small business liability insurance.
If you’re in business for yourself (even if you just freelance on the side!), you’re a small-business owner. And with that designation comes risk.
Your risk: No matter your line of business, any time you interact with the public, you accept certain responsibilities. As a business owner, you have a duty to make publicly accessible spaces safe. If someone visits your office and gets hurt, your business is on the hook for that injury (and its subsequent medical expenses).
Small business insurance solution: General Liability Insurance is the go-to starter policy. It can cover legal expenses when you’re sued over third-party bodily injuries or property damage. It can also address advertising injuries, such as when you spout off about a competitor on Twitter (and said competitor sues you for libel).
Sooner or later, you’re going to get more work than you can handle. When that happens, you may outsource some duties to contractors and their subcontractors.
Their risk: Your contractors are small-business owners, too, which means they’re responsible for the harm their work may cause.
Small business insurance solution: If they do professional work on behalf of your business, contractors should have their own Professional Liability Insurance to account for mistakes or unfulfilled contractual obligations. Check your contractor’s certificate of liability insurance to ensure they have their own coverage.
The gal you call to give your office a fresh coat of paint? She’s a small-business owner. The plumber who fixes your leaky faucet may be, too. Ditto for the folks who mow your lawn or clean your house.
Their risk: Property damage and completed operations are the big risks here. For example, if the painter knocks over an expensive vase while painting, you could hold her accountable for the replacement price. And if the plumber fixes the faucet but his repair causes subsequent leaks, you can hold him liable for the damage.
Small business insurance solution: General Liability Insurance can address both of these risks.
We see you rocking those handmade jewels. But if the seller mislabeled those earrings as sterling silver when they are actually made of nickel that irritates your skin, they could be on the hook for damages.
Their risk: When someone sells products, the sale implies that the product is safe for consumer use. If that’s not the case, they can be held liable for physical harm the product causes.
Small business insurance solution: Product Liability Insurance (typically part of a General Liability policy) can cover legal expenses if the seller is sued over selling defective items.
The person who does your taxes is probably your favorite person every April. But their expertise makes them a prime target for lawsuits.
Their risk: If your tax preparer or accountant makes a miscalculation that gets you audited, they can be sued over falling short of standard expectations for their professional work.
Small business insurance solution: Errors & Omissions Insurance is every professional’s right-hand policy. It can cover legal expenses for lawsuits over missed deadlines, work errors, and bad advice.
You wouldn’t trust Fido’s care to just anyone. And chances are your dog walker has proven their professionalism by taking excellent care of your pooch and by being insured. (Learn more about how insurance demonstrates credibility in “Why Clients Want You to Have an E&O Policy.”)
Their risk: Some animals have a remarkable talent for causing trouble. If Fido runs off and gets hurt on your walker’s watch, she may have to shell out for his vet bills.
Small business insurance solution: Unfortunately, pets are considered property in most states, so General Liability applies here. In this case, the damaged property is Fido, and if the sitter is responsible for causing his injury, her GL policy can help pay for the vet expenses.
You wouldn’t dream of buying your daily red eye anywhere else. But as we hinted earlier, a lot can go wrong for the owner of your go-to coffee shop.
Their risk: The milk steamer can burn employees. Too-hot coffee can burn customers. Spilled coffee can cause slip-and-fall accidents. Suffice it to say, liabilities are alive and well in this little caffeine haven.
Small business insurance solution: General Liability Insurance can address lawsuits over slip and fall injuries, and its Product Liability coverage can tackle customer burns. But employee injuries call for Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
Do you know a business owner who would find this rundown helpful? Send it their way!
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