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 TRAVEL AGENCY
Example 1: An employee in your agency often tells customers horror stories about trips gone wrong that were scheduled through another local travel agency. He doesn’t use the agency’s name specifically, but word gets around to the other business, which sues your agency for slander. In a case like this one, general liability insurance would likely cover either a settlement or a court-ordered damage estimate owed to the other agency.
Example 2: Backing out of your parking spot after a long day, you fail to check your rear-view mirror and T-bone another car as it passes behind you. The other car’s driver-side door is crushed. The accident occurs on your business’ property, which means that general liability insurance would probably cover some amount of damage to the other driver’s car, as well as any medical payments for which a court found you liable.
Example 3: As you go over itinerary details with a customer in your office, her young child unplugs a computer monitor and pulls it off a desk and onto his head, causing injuries that require medical attention. If found liable, you could probably count on general liability insurance to cover medical expenses or any settlement reached.
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 travel agency in America spends between $350-$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 TRAVEL AGENCIES 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 travel agencies should obtain:
Business Interruption Insurance
In the event that your storefront is destroyed or severely damaged, usually through forces like fire or tornadoes, business interruption insurance can help your travel agency get back on its feet. This policy covers estimated losses in revenue during a temporary period of commercial inactivity. Additionally, if your business requires a temporary relocation, this policy may cover the expenses accrued from the move. Business interruption insurance can keep your travel agency alive and kicking as it recovers from a major disaster.
Professional Liability Insurance
Travel agents don’t simply book flights and cruises. They can organize and book lodging, tourist activities, and more. A travel agent is not immune to error though. Scheduling errors, bad advice, or poor communication can result in negative customer experience.
While many trips are intended to be relaxing vacations, a travel agent can be found liable in the event that their advice or trip management results in damages to the customer. Keep your agency and your employees covered with professional liability insurance, which will cover workers who accidentally ruin business travelers’ trips or cause injury through poor advice.
TYPES OF COVERAGE SOME TRAVEL AGENCIES MAY NEED
In addition to the policies outlined above, there are a few other types of coverage your travel agency 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.
Workers' Compensation Insurance
A growing company’s needs will include more agents to handle an increase in customers. Once you employ part-time or full-time workers, it is legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. These policies typically include disability and death benefits in the event that an employee is injured or killed at work.
Data Breach Insurance
Much of the modern travel agent’s work includes digital data entry, including customer itineraries, destinations, hotels, and debit or credit card info. In the event that your devices or network are breached, your business could be found liable and be required to compensate for customer losses of any kind.
Hackers and online scammers continue finding cleverer methods of digital theft, and data breach insurance can protect your company from damaging legal action.
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.