What is professional liability insurance and why do you need it?
One question people ask me a lot is: what is professional liability and what does it cover? Professional liability is like a general liability policy for industries that provide service and/or advice. It is also commonly referred to as errors and omissions insurance.
This is not to say that a general liability policy should not be chosen in addition to a professional liability policy for these service industries. In some cases, especially when there is an office where customers visit, a general liability policy should also be considered.
Professional liability policies not only pay out for any awarded damages to another party but they can pay your cost of defense in these situations as well. So even if a suit is unwarranted, the cost to defend yourself can cripple your business if you don’t have a policy in place to protect you for this.
What types of industries need professional liability or errors and omissions policies?
What is a retroactive or retro date?
Professional liability policies are on a claims made basis. What this means is that your policy would cover any losses that arose during that policy period only. A retroactive date can be used on these policies that will go back to the original date you began your business.
So if your policy was in effect from 04/01/2018-04/01/2019, your expiring policy would no longer be on the hook for any claims made after that expiration date of that policy. If you moved to another insurance company that began on 04/01/2019 then they would pay out on any claims made after 04/01/2019 regardless on when the said error occurred.
If you started your business in June of 2003 than that would be your retroactive date on your policy so any losses during that policy term would pay out for any errors that occurred since your business began. This is why your rates for errors and omissions policies increase the longer you are in business.
What is tail coverage or extended reporting period?
Tail coverage, also known as extended reporting coverage, cover claims arising after the policy period is over. This is common on a business owner that retires or sells his business. You pay a premium based on how long this tail coverage extends for.
What does retention mean in professional liability?
Retention, when referring to professional liability insurance, refers quite simply to your deductible. Typically deductibles chosen are much higher for these policy types. Most common retention ranges from $0 to $10,000 with the most common around $2,500. This means that if you have a loss you will be responsible for your deductible before your insurance company begins paying on the claim. Keep that in mind if you choose a higher retention option.
What are some common claims covered on professional liability?
Breach of contract
Let’s give a few more examples of real life claim situations.
A computer consulting and security company provides you with advice on how to keep your computer server and customer data safe. The advice they provide is less than adequate to prevent a data breach. This results in client information being stolen. You then file a professional liability claim against the consulting company’s policy.
You hire a property manager to manage a rental property for you. A guest of the tenant falls due to a broken step. You file a claim against the property manager’s professional liability policy for failure to maintain safe conditions of the property.
You buy a property from a real estate agent to use as business office. Your agent wrongfully tells you that this will be fine. Due to zoning laws, you are forbidden from using that property for your business office. You file a claim against the real estate agent’s professional liability policy.
You should be aware that a professional liability policy is likely not enough for you to be covered in every situation. These policies will not cover you if you cause bodily injury or property damage to someone outside the scope of a professional liability policy. This is why we would recommend you having a general liability or BOP policy to supplement this policy to avoid any uncovered items arising.
If you have any further questions as to what policy is best for your business, please give us a call at 704-494-9495 and we would be happy to discuss any questions you may have.
Getting your trucking insurance policy from a local agent is extremely important. Dealing with a local agency that you can sit face to face with can be very helpful when you are dealing the complications of commercial auto insurance. The trucking industry is complicated. Insurance for commercial trucking is no different.
Commercial trucks can include any of the following types of businesses:
Types of commercial trucks
Dump Truck Insurance
General Freight Hauler Insurance
Auto Hauler Insurance
Public Transportation Insurance
Tow Truck Insurance
Non-Emergency Medical Insurance
If you own a business similar to one of the ones listed above, then you will likely have either a Federal or State of NC requirement to be able to acquire and keep a commercial tag. Even if you don’t have those requirements, then you may have requirements from a contract that requires the same or higher limits as those required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or the state of NC.
What Types of Coverage Do you Need?
This question will vary depending on your business type, the requirements of the State of NC and Federal Government.
Liability Limits: You will have some limit of liability required, depending on several factors. These limits can range from $30,000/60,000/25,000 up to $5,000,000 combined single limits. The amount of coverage required can depend on your vehicle, radius, what you are hauling, gross vehicle weight, and if you are crossing state lines to name a few.
Cargo Liability: This covers the commodity that you are hauling and can vary a great degree depending on the contract requirements and the Federal or State of NC requirements.
Physical Damage: This covers the value of the vehicle you are driving, and the coverage required will depend either on your comfort with losing the value of your vehicle in the event of a loss or the bank requirements of the bank you are financing the vehicle through.
On Hook: This covers the vehicle you are hauling in towing insurance risks. The value of the coverage chosen should be minimally, the highest value of the vehicle you would ever tow.
General Liability: This covers your negligence outside of hitting someone with your vehicle or damage to the items you are hauling.
Umbrella: An umbrella or excess liability policy will cover above and beyond where your underlying policy limits leave off. You want this policy in place to protect yourself further or to satisfy a contract. Many of the bigger contracts will require this policy today.
Workers Compensation: This covers your legal liability for your employees or subcontractors and may even be required by a contract even if you don’t have employees. Even if you hire only one independent contractor, you are obligated by NC law to carry workers compensation.
Commercial truck insurance takes on a whole new level of responsibility than your personal auto insurance. You may want to consider consulting an agent that is near you, to help you with local State of NC laws and help you determine what coverage will best suit you for these requirements. Outside of government responsibilities, you will likely encounter contract requirements that a veteran agent and agency can help you navigate. You will also want an independent agency that can help you get quotes from multiple carriers. Please contact us at 704-494-9495 if you have any questions or would like a shopped quote from the top insurance companies in your industry.
Garage repair facilities have special insurance requirements that can be a bit different from other types of businesses. You have a liability exposure for not only your business location, but also for your customer’s vehicles. There are several different insurance coverage types you will want to make sure you are covered for.
Your policy or policies should likely cover all or most of these exposures. Insurance for these businesses can be quite confusing. In fact, even some insurance agents get confused on certain types of coverage. Like for instance what is the difference between garage liability and garage keepers legal liability insurance? I will discuss some of these things now.
Types of Repair Shops
There are many types of shops where the described coverage come into play.
Below is a list of the common types of garage shops in Charlotte, NC.
Auto Body Shop
Auto Repair Shop
Truck Repair Shop
Fix It Yourself Garage
Some of the common insurance policy types are shown below.
Business Owners Policy (BOP)
A business owner’s insurance policy covers liability for your premises along with many other coverage options. There are a lot of bells and whistles on these policy types but make sure the requested endorsements have been added because some may have to be selected as an add-on individually.
Garage liability covers any damage incurred while driving a covered vehicle. This could be a vehicle owned by the business and scheduled on the policy, a customer’s vehicle, or an employee’s vehicle used in the business. The vehicle itself is not covered under this coverage type, only what is hit by that vehicle. We will discuss this under garage keepers legal liability (GKLL). Garage liability will also extend to premises liability as well. This means that there would be coverage for a slip and fall of a client while on the business premises.
Garage Keepers Legal Liability
Garage keepers legal liability insurance covers damage to your customer’s vehicles while they are in your care, custody, and control. This includes coverage for theft, weather related losses, accidents, etc. Rates can be improved if you keep certain security measures in place. This can include security systems, gates, fences, cameras, and garages to store the vehicles.
Business Auto Liability
Any trucks or autos owned by the business should be scheduled under a business auto policy. You can choose liability coverage which will cover anyone or anything hit by your business owned cars used in your business. You can also choose to have physical damage coverage on these vehicles which will cover comprehensive and collision losses.
Workers compensation, also known as employer’s liability, works just like any other business for this policy. It will cover you at the limit you choose for any employees while they are engaged in business operations. This policy picks up any medical bills as well as payments for being out of work due to the injury or illness incurred while on the job. You should be aware of any NC laws regarding workers compensation mandates. You can check these out here. http://www.ic.nc.gov/
Certain things will play a factor in the rate for insurance for your auto repair shop. Some of those things are shown below.
Years in business
Number of employees
Details of the business
Types of coverage chosen
Not all auto repair shops are the same. Nor should the insurance policies for those shops be the same. Give us a call today at 704-494-9495 to discuss in detail any questions you may have. We will also be more than happy to get you insurance quotes from our numerous carriers. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am often asked to explain what a personal umbrella insurance policy is. Put simply, an umbrella insurance policy is an excess policy that covers you where your underlying limits leave off, at whatever umbrella limit you choose. Umbrella insurance policies give you an extra layer of protection over top of your other personal insurance policies.
This policy is oftentimes purchased as your net worth grows. In our litigious society today, it is very important to protect your assets. Many times it is predatory claimants that will come after you once they find out you have something to lose. Most times though, it is there to protect you against catastrophe situations that may arise, such as major accidents or lawsuits.
What Types of Policies Will My Umbrella Policy Cover?
Most of your personal insurance policies will be covered under your personal umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is what is known as a follow-form policy. A follow-form policy means that if your underlying policy covers you on a claim than your umbrella policy will pick up where that policy left off. Some common insurance policy types include:
Seasonal Home Insurance
Rental Property Insurance
Personal Watercraft Insurance
How Much Does an Umbrella Policy Cost?
Most umbrella policies are quite affordable. In fact, they are probably one of least expensive personal lines policies available. Typically for a household with 2 drivers and 2 vehicles, the premium for an umbrella policy will run around $200 per year or less. The premium is based on several risk factors.
How is an umbrella premium determined?
Some of the most common rating factors for umbrellas are shown below.
Number household of drivers
Number of household vehicles
Age of household drivers
Driving record of household drivers
Number of residences owned by insured
Number of other owned toys such as motorcycles, boats, RV’s, etc
When Should I Purchase an Umbrella Policy?
The short answer is anytime you have a concern of being sued you should buy an umbrella policy. We have some clients that purchase these policies when they are very young and have very little net worth. Others will purchase one as they start to gain some equity in their homes or other assets. Still others will do this when their kids reach driving age and there is a concern that they might be involved in auto accident that might cause them to be sued.
There is no perfect answer for everyone. You have to weigh the costs versus the rewards. With the cost of the premium being so small, there isn’t a lot holding you back from protecting yourself. The chance of having an umbrella claim is significantly less than having a claim on your auto and home policy. However, when you do need to file an umbrella claim, it is typically for a large sum. There are many cases where uninsured people lose everything if they aren’t adequately covered. With the benefits outweighing the costs, most people find that $200 per year is worth the peace of mind.
What Liability Limits Should I Have on My Underlying Policies?
While each company can vary on their minimum underlying limit requirements, the most common minimum limits are shown below by policy type.
Auto Insurance- $250,000 Bodily Injury Per Person, $500,000 Bodily Injury Each Accident
Home Insurance- $300,000
Other cycle or boat insurance policies- Either $300,000 Combined Single Limit or $250,000/$500,000 Split Limits
It is important to understand that if you don’t already carry these minimum limits, you would need to increase them to qualify for an umbrella policy. There will be an increase in premium for the increase in limits as well. Most times the increase in minimal, depending on what your current limits are.
What Else Do I Need To Know About Umbrella Policies?
There are some other important concerns you should be aware of when you have an umbrella policy.
Notify the carrier if anything changes. This includes new cars, drivers, residences, toys, etc. It also includes any new major violations. Most companies will send you a questionnaire at each renewal period to make sure they have the updated information.
Most companies will offer umbrella limits up to $5,000,000. Ask for quotes on each $1,000,000 layer until you hit your comfort level based on premium. Find your sweet spot.
Be prepared for higher rates when household drivers are inexperienced or if you have a driver with a DWI or other major violation.
Your personal umbrella policy will only cover personal lines underlying items. If you have a business and business policies then you should purchase a commercial umbrella policy over those underlying policies. For info on commercial umbrellas or other commercial policies check out one of our previous blogs on the subject.
Ownership matters. Make sure all items are owned by the same named insured. Due to insurable interest, you must make sure all of the underlying policies are also in your name and that the umbrella policy matches that name. Typically this means placing everything in your name and your spouse’s name.
We write umbrella policies through multiple companies. We take all factors into consideration when we shop out these policies. In some cases it is best to have all policies with the same company. In others, the rates are much more affordable to spread them out to multiple carriers. As an independent insurance agency, we put your needs first. Please give a knowledgeable agent a call at 704-494-9495 for a quote or with any other questions you may have regarding umbrella policies.
Restaurants have very specific insurance needs compared to that of other types of businesses. There are varying factors that can be brought into a suit in the event of a claim. Each restaurant is different and has varying degrees of risk. We will discuss some of the common claims types and coverage options to protect you if you have a claim. There are so many different types of restaurants and there is no one size fits all policy for all restaurant types.
Some common restaurant types
Food Truck (check out our blog on food truck insurance)
Restaurants have a large array of needs for insurance. It is important that you sit down with an insurance professional and discuss all of the liability exposures you may face. We will discuss some of the more common policy types that restaurants choose to cover themselves with.
You should choose a comprehensive general liability policy sometimes referred to as a BOP(Business Owner’s Policy) for your restaurant. You want to make sure you are covered adequately for most perils. BOP policies offer many endorsements that can be added to your policy to lower the likelihood of an uncovered peril.
Some of the common perils under this policy type include:
Customer slip and fall
Advertising liability claim
Food poisoning illness
Any acts of dishonesty by one of your employees are covered under a crime policy. In many cases, this can be added as an endorsement under your general liability policy. These policies will pay out for losses you have incurred due to some of the following types of crime insurance.
Theft of money or securities
Funds transfer fraud
If your restaurant sells alcohol of any kind, you need to have a liquor liability policy in force. Your general liability policy will exclude this type of loss. If a suit comes back in any way against an over-served patron it will also likely fall back on your establishment. Remember, your employee doesn’t even need to be negligent for you to get sued. A liquor liability policy will pay the costs to defend you as well. Discounts are often available if you have completed training with your staff on reading the signs of an inebriated customer. We recommend taking classes for this outside of just the discount offered.
Restaurants have quite a bit of business property that would need to be insured.
Some common types of property in a restaurant include:
Interior additions and alterations
You should do a personal inventory of the items that would need to be replaced in the event of a loss, say a fire.
Even if you don’t own the building you operate out of, you still want to be covered for any interior permanently attached equipment. You may have sank quite a bit of money into what they call improvements that would need to be insured to put you back where you were before the loss.
Claims for workers compensation are not uncommon in this industry. Slips and falls are common, as are kitchen accidents. In NC, a business with 3 or more employees, including the owner, is required by law to carry workers compensation insurance. Workers compensation pays out not only for the medical bills of an injured employee, but it also covers any lost time at work. These expenses can get quite expensive and with the likelihood of a claim, workers compensation is essential.
Commercial Auto Liability
Many restaurants do outside catering and have a need for commercial auto insurance. This policy will cover any liability that results while a vehicle is being used for business use. Damage to the vehicle will also be covered if physical damage is chosen as well. In some cases, where an employee’s vehicle is being used instead of a restaurant owned vehicle, a non-owned auto endorsement would need to be added to the policy to cover that specific vehicle.
Business income is insurance that covers you for lost income due to a covered peril. If you had a fire and had to close your doors for several weeks or months to complete the repairs, could you withstand the loss of income? Your expenses such as salaries, rent, and taxes will still need to be paid even if you lose all of your income. A business income policy will assist in keeping you afloat during this time.
Cyber liability if one of the fastest growing insurance types. You will be handling customers payment info and if that were to get into the wrong hands it can be very expensive if a claim were to arise. For a more detailed listing of what is covered in cyber liability please view my blog from a couple of months ago on the subject.
You can also purchase a blanket umbrella liability insurance policy that will kick in and pay up to the limit of your choosing once the underlying limits for policies listed above are exhausted. Your commercial umbrella carrier will want to be made aware of any policies under the umbrella that will be covered. You will also have to meet the minimum underlying limits on those policies to meet the umbrella policy requirements.
You can see that restaurant insurance can be quite complicated with various types available. It is important to discuss your specific needs with an insurance expert in this industry. Please feel free to call us at 704-494-9495 and discuss any questions you may have with an agent specialized in restaurant insurance.