Review what type of insurance your business may need. Do not rely solely on this brief overview; contact an attorney or professional advisor for additional guidance.
Step 5 Purchase Business Insurance
The Maryland Insurance Administration provides assistance to businesses in all areas of insurance including life, health, disability, workers’ compensation, automobile, homeowners, and property insurance. The types of insurance business owners choose to purchase depends on the size of the business, the number of employees, the type of business or industry, and the amount of coverage desired.
Commercial insurance can protect businesses from common losses and is an important part of owning a business. For more information, view this Business Owner’s Guide to Commercial Insurance, or contact the Maryland Insurance Administration at 410-468-2000.
Insurance for Business
All motorized vehicles registered in Maryland, whether used for personal or business purposes, are required to carry automobile liability insurance. Automobile liability insurance coverage includes payment for medical expenses and damages sustained by other injured people (i.e. bodily injury) and damages to the property of other individuals as a result of a motor vehicle accident caused by the insured’s negligence. Maryland has two other statutorily required automobile coverages: Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist and Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Commercial auto insurance policies typically have higher liability limits than a personal automobile liability insurance policy and may have provisions that cover rented and other non-owned vehicles.
Property insurance protects small business owners from losses due to damage to their business property, including the business’ physical space or equipment. For insurance purposes, business property includes the physical building in which the business resides, assuming the business owns the building, as well as the property owned by the business that is located within the building and other assets of the business. With property insurance, you can purchase either actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost (RC) coverage. ACV insurance reimburses you for the value of lost, damaged or stolen goods after depreciation is taken into consideration. RC insurance reimburses you the amount it would take to replace, rebuild or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without any deduction for depreciation.
Business interruption insurance, also known as business continuation insurance, provides coverage for expenses associated with running a business, such as payroll and utility bills, when the business is unable to operate for an extended period of time because of a fire, or other type of loss as specified in the policy. While the policy will specify how such expenses are to be determined and how many days coverage will be provided, the amount of coverage is typically based on the company’s financial records. This type of coverage typically is not triggered until a specified period of time has passed following a covered loss that results in the interruption of the business. That time period will be set forth in your policy.
Liability Insurance protects your business against the economic loss and expense associated with claims of bodily injury, property damage, injury to one’s reputation caused by slander and libel, and also the harm caused by false or misleading advertising. With liability insurance, the insurer will defend you against any covered claim at no out-of-pocket cost to you. Also, if your business is found responsible, the insurer will pay at least part of, and maybe even all of, the damages owed. The amount the insurer will pay depends upon the amount of damages, the type of damages sought, and the stated policy maximum.
This type of insurance protects a business and its owner(s) from claims by employees who suffer a work-related injury, illness or disease. Maryland, like all states, requires businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Workers’ compensation insurance typically provides the injured employee with benefits to cover medical expenses, a portion of his/her lost wages, rehabilitation costs if applicable, and permanent partial or permanent total disability. In exchange for such compensation, the employee forfeits the right to sue the employer in court for any damages related to this injury. This coverage is not part of your commercial general-liability insurance policy; you will need to purchase a separate policy to obtain this type of coverage.
Home-based Business Insurance
Home-based businesses should be properly insured to protect the business’ assets and its owners against certain risks. Often, home-based businesses are underinsured—a fact the business owner usually discovers that the insurance he/she has is inadequate or insufficient after an incident or loss occurs. Property and liability insurance is important to home-based businesses, so talk to an insurance producer to be sure that you have the necessary coverages in place to protect yourself and your business against a loss or claim.
Insurance for Employees
Providing health insurance for employees is by far the single most expensive benefit offered by employers. As business owners know, health insurance is extremely important to most employees and is a very powerful benefit in recruiting and retaining the best workers. However, cost is often an issue for small businesses. Business owners have many options if they decide to offer employer-based health care coverage. Small businesses (those with between 2 and 50 employees) are not required to purchase health insurance for their employees, but if they choose to do so they may qualify for a tax credit. Insurance brokers authorized by the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE) can assist small businesses with direct enrollment in qualified health plans certified by MHBE’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).
Disability insurance protects employees if they become disabled and unable to work. Short-term disability insurance covers a portion of the policyholder’s salary when faced with a disability that prevents the employee from being able to work for a short period which is usually three to six months. Long-term disability coverage typically begins after the policyholder is disabled and unable to work for at least six months.
Group Life Insurance
Term life insurance pays a death benefit if the policyholder passes away within a specified time period (the term of the policy). Group life insurance can be part of an employee benefit plan that is paid for by the employer, or a voluntary offering whereby the employee pays for the coverage.
Key Life Insurance
Some small businesses purchase key life insurance to protect individuals who are critical to the business such as founders or partners. Key life insurance is purchased for those individuals to protect the company if a key employee dies.
Other Types of Insurance
Your business may need or want other types of insurance that are not mentioned on this page, such as flood insurance or surety bonds. For more information contact the Maryland Insurance Administration, an attorney, or professional advisor.