Ask the Experts

Ask the experts: Insurance coverage vital part of running a business

CorrespondentApril 22, 2013 

Tom Hunter, owner Stowe Insurance of Belmont.

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Insurance can be vital to the success of a small business.

Tom Hunter, principal and owner of Stowe Insurance in Belmont, said that over the years he’s seen many businesses struggle after unforeseen events.

“Businesses burn down, principals die or get sick, the founding principal becomes disabled,” Hunter said. “Sometimes they get hurt in automobile wrecks and have to recover, which can take over a year.”

Insurance is a safety net for unanticipated accidents that can throw a business off course or even force it to shut its doors.

Hunter teaches a class on insurance for Gaston College’s small business seminar series, and said that many people who attend ask how to buy affordable insurance and which coverage is most important to their businesses.

Here are the types of insurance that Hunter recommends small businesses consider:

•  Business owner policy: Similar to a homeowners policy, this insurance combines property and general liability coverage.

•  Workers’ compensation: Required of all businesses with three or more employees in North Carolina, this policy pays for employee accidents that occur on the job and can include doctor visits, prescriptions, rehabilitation, weekly income payments and weekly disability payments.

•  Health insurance: Businesses should consider coverage for the principal and employees. Business owners should stay up-to-date on pending changes in the health insurance industry due to the Affordable Care Act.

•  Professional liability/errors and omissions insurance: This covers errors made by professionals and is typically carried by professionals such as doctors, lawyers, home inspectors, surveyors, accountants, real estate agents and nurses.

Hunter said that small business owners should seek out agents who specialize in business insurance.

Agents can help small business owners reduce the cost of coverage as well, Hunter said.

“We talk about payment plans, we talk about increasing deductibles and we talk about insurance limits,” Hunter said.

Business owners can also share the risk with subcontractors who carry their own general liability and workers compensation coverage.

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