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Everything You Need to Know About Small Business Insurance

The old adage “prepare for the worst but hope for the best” couldn’t be more true when it comes to insurance for your small business. You’ve undoubtedly invested significant time, money, and energy in starting and building your business, and it’s important to take measures to protect everything you’ve achieved.

Small business insurance can shield your company from situations that could cause significant financial disasters. It can protect your business from expensive losses, potentially saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road, and helps ensure your business’s survival. 

Whether you provide a service or sell a product, and whether you’re a solopreneur or manage a team of employees, this guide provides what you need to know to choose the right type of insurance for your small business.

What is small business insurance?

Small business insurance refers to various policies designed to protect entrepreneurs against risks associated with their work, such as property damage, bodily injuries, cyber attacks, or accusations of defective products. These insurance policies are designed to compensate the small business owner for costs resulting from any of these adverse events.

Do I need small business insurance?

Small business insurance is not required to operate a business in Canada, but it can be an essential part of your risk management strategy and provide peace of mind along with stronger financial security for your business. The right insurance coverage can help your business bounce back more easily from unexpected risks and losses, and potentially cover the costs associated with claims or lawsuits that could threaten the viability of your business. 

There are many other situations in which insurance can be beneficial for your small business. For example, certain customers may want to see proof of insurance before agreeing to work with you. You may also need insurance to rent certain commercial properties or to host an event. 

What do I need to insure for my small business?

The type of insurance that’s best for your small business depends on various factors, such as your industry, company size, and annual revenue. Start by taking an inventory of your business’s potential losses or liabilities. Broadly, there are three key areas of your business to consider insuring: your property, your operations, and your income. 

Types of small business insurance

Let’s take a closer look at some common types of insurance many small businesses choose to acquire.

Liability insurance

Liability insurance protects your small business against potentially costly lawsuits. If someone decides to sue your business, the costs can add up quickly—even if the suit is without merit. The two primary types of liability insurance are commercial general liability insurance and professional liability insurance.

Commercial general liability insurance

Commercial general liability insurance protects your business against claims around property damage or bodily injuries to third parties. This might include claims of bodily injury caused by your business put forth by customers, employees, delivery people, or vendors, as well as property damage caused by your company, products, or employees. The coverage may include the cost of defending yourself in injury or damage lawsuits, as well as possible settlements.

Professional liability insurance

Professional liability insurance covers the negative consequences of a professional’s inaccurate or incomplete service or advice. This might include missing a deadline that results in a financial loss for a client, or if you make a mistake in your work. It might also include situations where a client or customer blames your professional advice for causing their damage or loss. This type of coverage helps cover the costs of lawsuits that may arise in these scenarios. 

Commercial property insurance

Whether you own a storefront, lease an office, or work from home, property insurance helps protect your business space and its contents against damage or loss. It protects the physical assets of your business from threats, such as water damage, fire, theft, and vandalism. Property insurance typically helps with repair or replacement costs for exterior elements of your building like outdoor signs and fencing, as well as equipment, inventory, furniture, or electronics. It’s worthwhile to mention that general wear and tear does not fall under the scope of coverage in almost all insurance policies, meaning the costs would typically not be covered.

Property insurance is an important consideration for home-based businesses because your personal home insurance policy often won’t cover losses and liabilities related to commercial activities, which means you’ll need to consider home insurance as well as business insurance for a home-based enterprise. 

Commercial auto insurance

If your small business regularly transports people or products, your vehicles are vital to your operations. Whether it’s a single car or a fleet of company vans, you may not have the cash flow available to finance repairs and the legal liability costs involved if an accident occurs.

Commercial auto insurance can help protect against the physical damage or loss of your vehicle and the legal liability costs involved if you are responsible for an accident that causes property damage, personal injuries, or death to another person. It can also cover costs related to your vehicle including its contents, and loss of use in the event of an accident, as well as payment for your medical bills and rehabilitation if you’re injured in an accident. 

Cybersecurity insurance

Cyber attacks on small businesses are a real threat. And while the pandemic forced many businesses to go digital, 47% of Canadian small businesses say they don’t spend any of their budgets on cyber security—up from 33% in 2019, according to a 2021 study.  

Your small business may be at risk for cyber-attacks if you store sensitive customer or employee information, such as banking information, medical records, government documentation, or email addresses. 

This type of insurance can provide coverage for costs incurred by responding to and recovering from a cyber attack, such as losses due to extortion. It can also help cover costs associated with investigation fees or legal claims that may result from data breaches. 

Business interruption insurance

Business interruption insurance helps protect your business if a disaster forces you to temporarily cease operations. Typical calamities covered by business interruption insurance policies include events like flooding, fires, power outages, and weather damage. It can cover the lost income, operating expenses, and employee payroll while you get back on your feet and focus on reopening your business.

How much does small business insurance cost?

The cost of insurance for a small business varies based on factors such as business size and location, years of experience, annual gross revenue, number of employees, and insurance history. 

Common advice is to get the broadest coverage possible because many business owners who choose the cheapest option often find themselves wishing they had opted for broader coverage when faced with filing a claim.

It’s often possible to negotiate savings by bundling the various types of coverage your business needs into a single policy. Don’t forget that the cost of business insurance can be deducted as a business expense when you file your taxes. 

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