Many business owners do not give much thought to risk management until they or one of their friends encounters a disaster. You need to have business insurance to cover unexpected and unpreventable events, fire, theft, lawsuits, severe weather conditions, and so on, whether you operate out of your home or in a separate location. You can work with either an independent agent who represents many different insurers or an agent who represents one company. As these companies claim, “We provide specialist insurance with a personalised touch” your insurance agent is going to help you in choosing an insurance policy according to your needs so that you can keep yourself safe and get a smooth insurance claim process in case you go through one.
To begin, contact your personal insurance agent or company and ask about the types of business insurance available and the costs. Describe your business needs and determine the best form of coverage. Then shop around for both the best price and the best level of service. Select an agent or broker who fits your needs and specializes in your industry or a particular type of business. An alterations business has very different needs from a restaurant or construction business.
Ask other business owners who have similar needs to recommend an agent. Contact your local or national trade or professional association for recommendations. Find out if the organization has group insurance arrangements with specialty brokers or insurers. Call your local chamber of commerce as well as your banker, lawyer, and accountant for additional recommendations of agents with experience in your industry.
Interview several agents and ask for their opinion on the kinds of insurance your business needs. Ask what you should do if you need to file a claim. If they respond by giving you the insurance company’s telephone number, be wary. The correct response is, “Call me first.” Request a list of customers you can call and then contact these references.
Make sure the chemistry is right. It’s important that you feel comfortable with an agent and confident that he or she will be there to assist and represent you if a claim must be filed. Ask about the various coverages available and seek out advice in reducing your exposure to potential losses. Effective agents are experienced in risk management. Check to see if your candidates recommend any particular safety devices for theft protection or fire detection, and find out if you can receive credit for installing them.
Before making a final selection, call your state’s insurance department to determine if any complaints have been filed against the agent or company you are considering using. Don’t make your decision solely on price. Balance that important criterion against the agent’s expertise and, once again, the chemistry.
If you determine that your business needs several policies, you might end up with several different agents, one for property or liability insurance, another for benefits coverage, and so on. An excellent resource on this subject is Sean Mooney’s Insuring Your Business. The book covers property insurance, liability insurance, boiler and machinery coverage, workers’ compensation, and other critical areas that business owners need to consider.