Every business needs commercial insurance of some kind or another, depending on the nature of the business, and in sufficient amounts to protect it from serious, if not fatal, losses and liabilities. Only a serious, thoughtful review of business operations and assets can determine the kinds and amounts of insurance needed for a particular business, though commercial insurance agents should be able to offer some guidance.
In assessing the need for property insurance like commercial building insurance, a business needs to make a thorough review and valuation of its assets. These include real estate, buildings, fixtures, equipment and everything a business owns as tangible property or what accountants term “fixed assets.” The business’s accountants can aid in this review and prevent overlooking assets that otherwise might not occur to the business owner. Once this has been firmly established, then the business needs to weigh the advisability of insuring it for “actual value” or “replacement value.”
A commercial insurance policy for “actual value” means losses to property would only be covered for the actual cost of the property, such as a building or piece of equipment, less depreciation. Insuring the property for “replacement value” would mean the insurance would cover the cost of replacing the loss at current market costs. That is, taking a building as an example, “replacement value” coverage would pay for replacing it at current construction and outfitting costs, whereas “actual value” coverage would only pay for the loss incurred for the original cost of the building less depreciation. The two are very different, have different payouts and carry different price tags, so this issue deserves careful consideration.
Commercial life insurance can cover the lost value of high-producing and valuable employees, and commercial umbrella insurance can provide extra coverage over and above the normal policy amount for only a small incremental cost for additional risk management purposes.
As for liability insurance, other factors require review and consideration. The areas of activity the business is engaged in, and their attendant potential liabilities, need to be assessed. The business owner needs to weigh potential losses that might be incurred through accidents or oversights resulting from the conduct of the business itself. In which areas is the business open to customer or client lawsuits? Which circumstances or activities could result in injury or loss to third parties on the premises of the business or through the conduct of its business operations? These would be quite different for a physician than for an air conditioning/heating repair service, to use just one example.
Again, an experienced, well informed commercial insurance agent can provide invaluable input and advice in these matters. He or she can often identify areas of the business that might not be included in customary policies and which may require special riders to fully protect a business from huge potential losses which the owner, and even the accountant, may miss. Also a good commercial insurance agent can help in finding the most economical coverage for a particular type of insurance important to the business.