About General Liability Insurance
All businesses, regardless of industry, face risks that should be covered by insurance. The most common and comprehensive type of policy business owners invest in is general liability insurance (or CGL).
Some of the risks CGL insurance covers are:
- Bodily injury
- Property damage
- Medical payments
- Legal defense and judgment
- Personal and advertising injury
While businesses aren’t legally required to carry general liability insurance, operating without it is extremely risky. If your business is sued, you could end up facing fees totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more). Having a sufficient CGL policy in place to help compensate for these damages is the only way to prevent this type of event from devastating your business.
COMMON SITUATIONS THAT GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE WOULD COVER FOR A COUNSELING CENTER
Example 1: You have removed the old floor but have not installed the new flooring yet. The client tries to enter the property and falls due to uneven footing. They file a legal claim against your business. Your general liability policy will cover your legal defense costs, including the cost of a settlement if the case is decided out of court.
Example 2: One of your employees loses control of a dolly while moving tiles from a truck to the property. The heavy boxes of tiles fall on the client’s elaborate landscaping, smashing lighting installations and exotic plants. The general liability policy you carry will likely cover the replacement and repair costs for the damage done to the client’s property.
Example 3: A competitor claims that you are using a logo that is too similar to theirs and takes legal action against your business. Your general liability policy will cover the costs of your legal defense and the costs of paying damages to the competitor if you are found liable, up to your policy limits.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of perils a general liability insurance policy will cover, and some conditions may result in a particular peril not being covered. It’s always best to talk to your agent in-depth about the specifics of your policy to avoid blind spots in coverage.
COST OF GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE
The average counseling center in America spends between $450-$1,500 per year for $1 million in general liability coverage.
Check out the chart below for a snapshot of average CGL expenditure across a variety of industries:
Several factors will determine the price of your policy. These include your:
- Number of employees
- Per-occurrence limit
- General aggregate limit
You may be able to acquire general liability insurance at a discounted rate by purchasing it as part of a business owner’s policy (BOP) rather than as a standalone policy. A BOP is a more comprehensive solution that includes multiple forms of coverage, such as business interruption and property insurance.
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OTHER TYPES OF COVERAGE COUNSELING CENTERS NEED
While general liability is the most important type of insurance to have, there are several other forms of coverage you should be aware of. Below are some other types of insurance all counseling centers should obtain:
Workers’ compensation is a necessity for any business that has employees. Specific legal requirements vary by state, but you are most likely required by law to carry workers’ comp if you have employees. The workers’ compensation insurance you have will cover the costs of treating work-related injuries sustained by employees. It may also help to cover lost wages for the employee.
Professional Liability Insurance
One of the key roles of your counseling team is to provide guidance for patients—which can put your center in a difficult position if someone seeks to blame your business for the actions of patients and files a lawsuit. Professional liability insurance can cover the costs of legal representation and settlements so your center can continue to serve your community even in the event of a lawsuit.
TYPES OF COVERAGE SOME COUNSELING CENTERS MAY NEED
In addition to the policies outlined above, there are a few other types of coverage your counseling center may require depending on certain aspects of your operations. Some of these might not apply to you, so be sure to ask your agent which policies are right for your business.
Commercial Umbrella Insurance
A general liability insurance policy that is well-designed for your counseling center should cover most situations—but there is always the possibility that the damage will cost enough that it will exceed your coverage limits. Commercial umbrella insurance is designed to pick up where general liability leaves off. Once the limits of the general liability policy are reached, commercial umbrella coverage takes over so you can avoid paying out of pocket.
ADDITIONAL STEPS TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS
Although it’s easy (and essential) to invest in business insurance, it should not be your frontline defense. Yes, insurance will compensate for your business’ financial losses after an incident occurs, but it’s much better to avoid losses altogether.
With this in mind, here are three things you can do to better protect your business:
- Use legally robust contracts and other business documents. (We offer free templates for some of the most common legal forms.)
- Set up a limited liability company (LLC) to protect your personal assets. (Refer to our guide for step-by-step instructions on how to form an LLC in your state.)
- Streamline your business’ internal processes. This will remove unnecessary variables from common tasks and create a safe, consistent environment for conducting business.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is included in a business owner’s policy?
A typical business owner’s policy includes general liability, business interruption, and property insurance. However, BOPs are often customizable, so your agent may recommend adding professional liability, commercial auto, or other types of coverage to your package depending on your company’s needs.
What is the difference between business insurance and general liability insurance?
“Business insurance” is a generic term used to describe many different types of coverage a business may need. General liability insurance, on the other hand, is a specific type of coverage that business owners need to protect their assets.
Do I need insurance before I start a business?
You should invest in coverage for your business before your first interaction with a customer. Although the cost of insurance may seem high for a brand new business, it’s best to be proactive when it comes to protecting your assets. After all, you can’t buy insurance to cover a loss that has already occurred.
Will insurance protect my business from everything?
Not necessarily. Certain exceptions may be written directly into your policy, and some perils may be entirely uninsurable. Be sure to discuss the scope of your policy in-depth with your agent to avoid being blindsided by holes in your coverage.