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.
Learn more about the risks covered by general liability insurance.
COMMON SITUATIONS THAT GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE WOULD COVER FOR A MOBILE VET BUSINESS
Example 1: While you examine a dog, a customer walks up to say hello, receives a bite from the animal, and then sues you and the dog owner for damages. General liability insurance would cover your legal costs and any court-awarded damages.
Example 2: A local business claims your new marketing campaign closely resembles their marketing materials, causing their business to suffer. If they sue you for damages, general liability insurance would cover your legal costs and any payouts awarded by the court.
Example 3: When you seek to expand your company, you apply for a business loan. As part of the loan terms, your bank requires you to carry a minimum of $1 million in general liability insurance.
Example 4: Taking advantage of your pet sitting services, a client leaves you in charge of three pets while they leave town for a week. Your secretary mixes up the dates and you accidentally leave the animals unattended for two days, resulting in dehydration among the pets and damage to the client’s home. General liability insurance would cover the pets’ medical treatment as well as the cost of repairing or replacing the client’s damaged property.
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
On average, mobile vets in America spend between $300 - $700 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.
Other Types of Coverage mobile vets 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 mobile vets should obtain.
Commercial Auto Insurance
Because your work requires a customized vehicle and significant time on the road, you face a greater risk of an auto accident. 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. While each state mandates the minimum coverage requirements, those limits often leave business owners underinsured. 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 business equipment or supplies you carry in your vehicles.
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 or death benefits stemming from a work-related accident.
Professional Liability Insurance
Diagnosing and treating an animal can prove difficult — particularly if you face an unusual case or nervous animal. Pet owners can sue you for expenses and damages, regardless of where the fault lies. In the event of a lawsuit, professional liability insurance would cover your legal defense costs.
Types of Coverage Some mobile vets May Need
In addition to the policies outlined above, there are a few other types of coverage your mobile vet 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.
Animal Bailee Insurance
An animal bailee policy covers expenses stemming from the disappearance, injury, or death of an animal in your care. A covered loss typically includes advertising and reward costs, medical bills, and temporary housing.
Commercial Umbrella Insurance
While your general liability insurance policy covers most claims, some accidents or lawsuits may be so catastrophic that they threaten to exhaust the limits of your primary coverage. Commercial umbrella insurance protects you from paying out-of-pocket for any legal fees and awarded damages that exceed your primary policy.
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.