Business Resources

Understanding Business Owner's Policies

By: AllBusiness.com

Basically, three types of insurance are available to protect your business: property, liability and workers' compensation. Workers' compensation insurance is required by law in all 50 states. Although property and liability insurance are not always mandatory, it makes sense to protect all of your company assets with property and liability insurance.

Business owner's policies (BOPs) are insurance packages that provide both property and liability coverage at one affordable premium. These packaged policies are available to most small and medium-size companies and can be a good alternative to purchasing separate policies for liability and property insurance.

Large companies and businesses that are considered high risk usually don't meet the criteria for a BOP. The criteria for BOP eligibility include the size of the premises, the required limits of liability, the type of business and the extent of offsite activity. Premiums for BOP policies are based on similar factors, including business location, financial stability, building construction, and security features and fire hazards.

What Does a BOP Cover?
A BOP includes property protection for an office building and its contents as well as other people's property brought into the office building. BOPs cover standard perils, including fire and theft, although certain exclusions apply, such as damage caused by floods and earthquakes.

Under a BOP, a business selects the amount of liability coverage it needs based on its assets. Liability coverage pays for the cost of defending the business in a lawsuit and pays damages if the business is sued for injury or property damage. The liability policy also pays the medical expenses of those injured, other than employees, as a result of business operations.

A BOP provides coverage for both business interruption and replacement costs if an emergency disrupts or destroys the business. Business interruption insurance not only compensates for lost income and the expenses incurred when a company is forced to vacate its premises due to disaster-related damage, but it also covers operating expenses, such as payroll, which continue even when business activities have ceased. Replacement-cost coverage pays to replace damaged or stolen property, equipment and inventory without deducting for depreciation.

In addition to the basic BOP policy, businesses may purchase add-on coverage based on the particular risks associated with the company. For example, a dry cleaner might purchase additional coverage for mechanical breakdown, which would cover the machinery the business relies on. A retailer with numerous employees might carry coverage for employee dishonesty, which covers loss of business property due to embezzlement, fraud or another criminal act.

When purchasing business insurance it's important to be sure that your company is neither overinsured nor underinsured. List all company assets -- including property, equipment and inventory -- to help you decide the amount of insurance you need. An insurance agent or broker can help you identify risks and determine the type of coverage needed in order to fully protect the company.

Get more information on General Liability insurance and filing an insurance claim on AllBusiness.com. AllBusiness.com provides resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage, finance and expand their business. Copyright c 1999 - 2007 AllBusiness.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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