Insurance is a critical part of the risk management system for a business. It is a way to protect yourself against unforeseen losses. An insurance policy is a legally binding contract with an insurer to provide compensation for a specified damage, loss, or injury suffered by you business in return for a sum of money (premium) paid.
Just as you don't want to drive without automobile insurance, you do not want to run a business without business insurance. However, because there are so many kinds of businesses and subsequent risks they may face, there are a wide variety of insurance types, not all of them necessary for every business. Insurance needs differ for each business so look at your risks and choose what is appropriate for your situation.
Three types of insurance are mandated by law: unemployment insurance, social security, and workers' compensation. Unemployment insurance benefits are payable under the laws of individual states from the Federal-State Unemployment Compensation Program. Employer payments, based on total payroll, contribute to the program. You should be paying for unemployment insurance as part of your taxes.
The Social Security Act and related laws established a number of programs which have the basic objectives of providing for the material needs of individuals and families, protecting aged and disabled persons against the expense of illness that would otherwise exhaust their savings, keeping families together, and giving children the opportunity to grow up in health and security.
Funding for the Social Security program comes from payments by employers, employees and self-employed persons into an insurance fund that provides income during retirement years. Full retirement benefits normally become available at age 65. Other aspects of Social Security deal with survivor, dependent and disability benefits, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
Workers' Compensation Insurance protects your employees if they suffer job-related injuries. The policy pays the medical bills for the employee who is injured on the job. Each state mandates coverage and provides benefits. In most states, private insurance or an employer self-insurance arrangement provides the coverage. Some states mandate short-term disability benefits as well.
Other types of insurance may be necessary or unique to your particular business. For instance, a book author or consultant may want to carry a policy that will protect them from libel, plagiarism or negligence lawsuits. For professionals, like these, professional liability or malpractice insurance is important.
One thing that should be clear from this discussion is that you need to find a good insurance agent who you can trust. Spend some time in choosing your agent. You need someone you can be comfortable with on a longterm basis - someone who will advise you well so you can spend your time on your business, not worrying about the fine print of the coverage.