A Publication of WTVP

I am always amused by the commercial on television in which the child wakes his parents in the middle of the night because he is concerned about the family’s financial future. He ends his concerns by saying “And what about liability? That’s the nightmare!”

I often think about the business owners in central Illinois after hearing those words. They are hard-working people doing their best to produce quality products or provide great service to their clients, hoping catastrophic misfortune and subsequent lawsuits are not waiting around the corner. Although we will never be able to eliminate risk entirely, consider a few suggestions to ensure that your business is receiving the proper protection for the best possible premium.

Start by talking to your peers about their current coverages. A good business owner is usually willing to share information regarding insurance. This will familiarize you with the trends of your industry and expose the overall atmosphere of liability claims for your particular market. And remember, word of mouth is often a very good way to recognize real-life risks seen by other business owners, such as lawsuits and other liability-related issues.

Perhaps the most important step is to develop a relationship with a risk professional. The key is to take the term relationship seriously. As an insurance professional, I am responsible for the security of my client’s financial puzzle, and trust is a vital component of that relationship. If there is a lack of trust in your current broker, it may be time to end the relationship and move on. On the other hand, a strong relationship can make your life substantially easier.

Next, it’s time to put your broker to work. There is a reason why you are in the business you are in, just as there is a reason why your insurance broker is in his/her line of work—expertise. Business insurance coverage can be a complicated issue; you should expect your insurance advisor to investigate litigation trends, compare premiums and explain policy details clearly to ensure you fully understand your risk exposures and subsequent coverages. As the extent of liability coverage varies from insurer to insurer, it is your broker’s job to properly consider the right coverages that fit your unique business.

Finally, make accountability a cornerstone with your broker. If your broker has not properly followed up with you after your policy was initially written, you have an insurance salesman, not an insurance advisor. Business owners have far too much at risk to do business with someone who does not serve a unique purpose. A good insurance advisor will establish times to meet periodically throughout the year to ensure his/her client’s coverage keeps up with the changes in his/her business. In turn, a business owner must make the commitment to follow up and take the time with an advisor throughout the year, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Protecting your business from risks is the foundation of success. Take the necessary time to investigate your business liability needs with your insurance advisor and your peers. It could be the most important decision to your company’s survival. IBI