Q:  I am a relative newcomer to Richmond and do not have many contacts here. I need guidance in selecting the right insurance for my small business. Any suggestions you can offer will be appreciated.

 A: The first step is to select a qualified insurance agent.  If you are new to the area, you should solicit recommendations from other business owners.  Local trade associations and the Chamber of Commerce are a good source for references.

Compile a list of agents and then interview each. What you are looking for is experience with businesses similar to yours. Ask the agents for the names of other clients and determine their level of satisfaction. 

True insurance professionals take advantage of continuing education programs and can be identified as Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC), Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriters (CPCU), and Chartered Life Underwriters (CLU) 

Insurance is broadly grouped in two categories; Property & Casualty and Life & Health.  Both are specialties and it is uncommon that one agent is expert in both.

Some types of Property & Casualty insurance that you may need for your business are:

  • Commercial Auto to protect your business from both liability and physical damage losses resulting  from your use of an automobile.

  • Commercial General Liability to protect against certain other lawsuits arising out of the conduct of your business.

  • Product Liability to protect you from claims for damages sustained by customer’s use of your products, either sold or installed.

  • Worker’s Compensation to protect you from claims by employees who are injured on the job.

  • Commercial Property to cover loss to your building and contents from fire, wind, lightning, theft, vandalism, etc.

  • Flood insurance to protect your business property from flood damage.

  • Business Interruption & Extra Expense to pay for lost revenue and additional expenses resulting from covered damages to your building and contents.

  • Inland Marine to cover property in transit or away from your premises.  Also, replacement of damaged computer hardware and software, including restoring lost data.

Some types of insurance to be considered in the field of Life & Health include:

  • Life & Health insurance to protect you, your employees and their families from the financial consequences of death, sickness or non-job related accidents.

  • Disability insurance to cover lost wages due to prolonged sickness or disability.

  • Life Insurance for funding buyout agreements between business partners, securing business loans, and the loss of Key people.

There may be other exposures to consider and each situation may be different. This is why you need the advice of a professional agent who specializes in commercial insurance.

About the Author(s)

Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Richmond Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America's Small Business.

Business Counselor