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.
Learn more about the risks covered by general liability insurance.
COMMON SITUATIONS THAT GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE WOULD COVER FOR A HOME AUTOMATION BUSINESS
Example 1: When your company fails to deliver on promises made by your salespeople, several customers file a class action lawsuit for false advertising. General liability insurance would cover your legal fees and any damages awarded in a settlement.
Example 2: A customer seriously injures themself after tripping over devices left on your office floor. General liability insurance would cover the customer’s medical bills.
Example 3: While installing a smart thermostat in a customer’s home, an employee leaves a box at the top of a stairway. The customer’s child trips over the box and falls down the stairs. General liability insurance would cover the child’s medical bills and your legal expenses in the event of a lawsuit.
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.
On average, home automation businesses in America spend between $500 - $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.
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 home automation businesses should obtain:
Professional Liability Insurance
If a customer decides your services caused them injury and files a lawsuit, professional liability insurance would cover your legal fees as well as any damages awarded in a settlement. Because home automation is a relatively new type of business, be sure to select a policy that adequately covers the risks associated with the specific services you offer.
Product Liability Insurance
Because you sell home automation devices in addition to installation services, there’s always a chance a customer may file a lawsuit if they believe one of your products caused them harm. Product liability insurance would protect your business by covering your legal fees and any damages awarded in a product-related lawsuit.
Commercial Auto Insurance
Any vehicle you use primarily for business requires commercial auto insurance to protect the vehicle, driver and others on the road in the event of an accident. Be sure to select a policy that covers not only accident-related vehicle repair costs and medical treatment for anyone injured, but also sufficient protection for any special equipment you carry to job sites in your vehicles.
In addition to the policies outlined above, there are a few other types of coverage your home automation business 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 Property Insurance
If your business owns an office or showroom, you should protect that building in the event of a fire, burglary, or natural disaster with commercial property insurance. Commercial property policies cover the cost of repairing or replacing your office or showroom—and the equipment and inventory stored there—after an accident so you can recover quickly.
Home-Based Business Insurance
If you operate out of a home office, check with your homeowners insurance provider to ensure your policy protects you against liability from business-related accidents. If not, consider adding home-based business coverage to your business owner policy (BOP) or your existing home insurance policy.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Most states require businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their part-time and full-time employees. This coverage protects your employees if they become injured at work or fall ill after a work-related accident. It not only covers an employee’s medical bills and lost wages if they need time to recover, but also any disability benefits stemming from a work-related accident.
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.
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.