Generally speaking, the goal of doing business is to maximize profits, while also minimizing your overall costs. This however involves making strategic plans that account for expected expenses as well as outline effective actions that successfully reinvest your profits.
One way to keep your costs down involves securing affordable North Carolina business insurance. And thankfully, our business insurance strategies balance your distinct needs and requirements while also helping to reduce the overall financial impact of unexpected losses like natural disasters, lawsuits, employee injuries, and more.
What is Business Insurance?
Business insurance helps you protect your business, yourself, and your employees from the inherent risk of operating a business in North Carolina. Those risks may be financial – such as loss of property after a fire. Other risks may be liability for injuries, property damage, and mistakes that impact other people. Some risks are reputational.
Business insurance is what helps your business, regardless of its size, keep operating or get back to business after things go wrong. Every business is different, and your insurance policy should reflect that.
Who Needs Business Insurance?
Anyone who operates a business or works for themselves needs some form of business insurance. Fortune 500 companies’ insurance needs are different from a small business with five employees. Franchise businesses require a different level of coverage than a freelancer or solopreneur. But all businesses, big or small, benefit from a robust business insurance policy.
What Business Insurance is Available for North Carolina Businesses?
There are a wide variety of business insurance options to protect your North Carolina business. Not all insurance options apply to every business but these are the most common for most companies.
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance protects your business against the costs and potential lawsuits for bodily injury and property damage that third-parties (non-employees) suffer while interacting with your company. This could be an injury from a trip and fall in your store or on your property. It might be a damaged vehicle on a job site or a stolen laptop during a client meeting.
Liability coverage pays the injured parties costs. This includes medical costs for injuries, death benefits for deceased accident victims, repairs for damaged property, and replacement for property that can’t be repaired.
Liability coverage also protects you in the event that an injured party or their family decides to sue. You receive help with legal counsel and payment of court costs and settlements and judgements up to your policy limit.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance covers the physical elements of your business: buildings, equipment, inventory, supplies, and more. You’re protected from certain perils like windstorms, fire, lightning strikes, theft, vandalism, and more.
When things go wrong, you’ll be able to replace or repair your property so you can get back to business quicker.
Commercial Auto Insurance
Too many businesses think they don’t need commercial auto insurance because they don’t have a fleet of company cars. Nearly every business needs a policy because anytime you or an employee drives for business purposes, there’s the risk of an accident. Most personal auto insurance won’t cover an accident if it was business-related.
Commercial auto insurance policies cover vehicles and drivers similarly to personal policies, but the liability coverage is much more robust. That’s important because lawsuits after an auto accident are all too common. Business activities like delivering materials or products, traveling for business purposes, and running errands for the office can all be covered by a commercial policy.
Workers’ compensation is the only form of business insurance that the state of North Carolina requires you to carry, depending on the size of your business. If you work for yourself or only have one or two employees, you don't need workers’ compensation. But the majority of companies do.
Workers’ comp helps pay the medical costs, lost wages, and death benefits when an employee is injured, becomes ill, or even dies on the job. It also covers you in the event an employee or their family members sue.
Errors & Omissions
Also known as professional liability, errors & omissions (E&O) insurance covers you from the mistakes, errors, and sometimes bad advice that you or an employee may give to a client or customer. If part of your business includes using your expertise to advise clients and offer solutions, mistakes can be costly for the people you’re helping.
Professional liability helps pay the costs for your mistake and covers you in case the unhappy client or customer sues.
Any business with a website, computer files, or information stored in the cloud needs cyber liability insurance. Data breaches and hacks are practically an inevitability these days, and when (not if) it happens to you, cyber liability helps your business and the injured parties recover.
As a business, you have a lot of responsibility if the data you store (names, addresses, payment information, social security numbers, etc) is hacked. Cyber liability helps pay to notify people, monitor credit reports, make your systems more secure, rebuild your company’s reputation, and deal with possible lawsuits.
Employment Practices Liability
Employment practices liability covers your business if an employee accuses your business of wrongful termination, workplace harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. Once you hire your first employee, this coverage becomes important.
Even if you know you would never do such a thing as a boss, the accusation can still be made. And once you hire other people to supervise or oversee employees, you never know what might happen. Protect yourself and your business with employment practices liability coverage.
Business Interruption Coverage
When something happens to your business – a storm, fire, theft – you may be shut down until repairs are made or your loss is replaced. That means you’re not making any money. But vendors need to be paid and so do your employees. This is where business interruption insurance becomes important.
You’ll be able to pay your bills until your business is back up and running.
Commercial umbrella insurance offers an extra layer of liability protection for those big claims you never see coming and can’t prepare for. Your basic liability policies will pay for claims, including settlements and judgments – but only up to your policy limits.
But if the claim is too big for your policy to handle, umbrella insurance will pay the remaining amount – up to that policy limit. Without umbrella coverage, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for any big claims. Umbrella coverage is very affordable and one of those things you’ll be thankful for if you ever need to use it.
Not every business offers group benefits, but if you have employees and want to hire and keep the best people, it’s a great recruitment and retention tool. Your group benefits can include health insurance, dental and vision, long-term and short-term disability coverage, and/or life insurance.
Business Owners Policies (BOP)
You will often see business insurance labeled as a Business Owners Policy or BOP. This coverage typically combines common insurances into a bundle for you. Most often this includes general liability and commercial property insurance. Choosing a BOP over individualized policies may save you money but it’s unlikely to include all the insurance coverage your business needs.
How Much is Business Insurance in North Carolina?
The cost of business insurance varies from business to business in North Carolina. It all depends on what kind of coverage you select, what policy limits you choose, your deductibles, and what kind of business you have. Businesses with more potential risk tend to pay higher rates than those with less known risks.
That being said, business insurance doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive, either. There are plenty of options available to help reduce costs. It’s important to mitigate common risks to your business and shop around for coverage.
Does North Carolina Require Business Insurance?
The only business insurance that North Carolina requires is workers’ compensation, as long as your business falls within certain guidelines:
Businesses must carry workers’ comp coverage if you are a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, estate, or trust and have “at least three employees who are regularly employed in addition to the sole proprietor, partners, formulators of the LLC, executor of the estate, and bearer of the trust.”
According to North Carolina law, “If you are incorporated, including all forms of corporations and those which have non-profit status, you are required by law to carry coverage once you have a total of three (3) people in the corporation. Everyone is included in the headcount, including corporate officers.”
You don’t want to neglect workers’ compensation coverage. There can be serious legal penalties for your business if you do. You may also pay higher premiums once you purchase coverage, and you’ll be solely responsible for the costs associated with any lawsuits related to workplace injuries, too.
How Charlotte Insurance Can Help Your Business
If you’re opening a new business, make sure a solid business insurance policy is at the top of your business plan. If your business is growing, make sure you’re protecting yourself and company with the right types of coverage. Whether you’re a solopreneur, a start-up, or a large, established corporation, Charlotte Insurance can offer you the business insurance coverage that’s right for your company.
Contact us today. We’re here to help with specialized solutions and a personal touch.