Category

Commercial

What is Inland Marine Insurance?

Banner image of a truck moving goods over land.

Inland marine insurance, despite its name, has nothing to do with water or oceanic transport. Rather, it is a practical way of covering your products or assets when transported over land

While ‘marine insurance’ is relegated to insuring items transported over the water, inland marine insurance covers most forms of travel overland, such as via cargo trucks, trains, or other logistics-geared vehicles. It can even cover items temporarily warehoused by a third party.

This differentiation is important. 

Does your business need inland marine insurance?

If your business doesn’t frequently ship products or equipment, there’s a good chance your standard Business Owners Policies (BOP)  are sufficient. In most cases, those policies will cover property at specific locations and may, in fact, cover property transported to nearby job sites. 

Of course, you should review your policies and talk to your agent to be sure, but if you aren’t doing a lot of shipping and warehousing, inland marine may not be an important part of your commercial insurance portfolio.

If you frequently ship products or equipment, then you most likely need inland marine insurance. If what you ship is expensive, then it’s even more important.

What does inland marine insurance cover?

It’s important to know what can be covered before you commit to a plan. Luckily, coverage is flexible and can be designed to cover to most valuables you can transport. Typical coverage includes:

Electronics

While inland marine insurance covers property that is movable or transportable over land, it can often cover property that’s involved in in the transfer of information as well. That can include:

  • Computers
  • Servers
  • Networking equipment
  • Tablets

You get the idea. While your typical property insurance may cover some of those items, it may not cover all of them. Or to their full extent. If you use computers (and who doesn’t, these days?), you should ask about inland marine insurance.

Tools & Equipment

If you’re a contractor moving tools and equipment between job sites, inland marine insurance coverage may be necessary. This is especially the case if you occasionally leave this equipment at a job site or transport it back and forth in either your vehicles or employee vehicles.

large commercial equipment covered by inland marine insurance
Large commercial equipment is often covered by inland marine insurance

Large, Commercial Equipment

If you transport large equipment such as backhoes, forklifts, or tractors, it’s very likely you should consider inland marine insurance. Items like expensive photography equipment or medical equipment can also be covered by inland marine insurance.

Furnishings

If you participate in trade shows and transport furniture, artwork, or other valuable property, your standard policies may not cover them. Know what will? You guessed it, inland marine insurance.

More than meets the eye

Like most insurance policies, inland marine insurance can be adapted to meet your needs. Exhaustive coverage lists can be given by your provider and navigated with the help of a trusted agent. 

For example, some inland marine insurance policies could also cover:

  • Jewelry
  • Furs
  • Guns
  • Musical instruments
  • Valuable records
  • And more!

Examples where inland marine insurance coverage might be valuable

Tools & equipment at a job site that's covered by inland marine insurance
Tools & equipment at a job site that’s covered by inland marine insurance

Coverage can help grant you peace of mind when transporting your goods to a particular event attended for professional purposes, such as setting up equipment for a concert. Other scenarios might include:

  • A restauranteur who has cooking supplies stored in a food truck
  • A marketer or business owners transporting a booth (and related fixtures) to a trade show
  • A photographer Moving photo equipment to a location for a photo shoot
  • A contractor transporting equipment to and from a job site
  • A manufacturer or contractor shipping expensive equipment across the country

How Much Does Inland Marine Insurance Cost?

Inland marine insurance, like most insurance policies, will entirely depend on the coverage depth you need and the necessity of its regular use. Finding a quote specifically for your business will help you shop around or more easily understand the state-required limits you need to meet.

Our Advice

Generalities can go a long way in the world of insurance. However, every case is different. If you’re not sure whether inland marine insurance is right for you, take a minute to complete our free business insurance quiz. It’ll only take 3-5 minutes and it can help you start to figure out whether you’ve got the right coverage for you.

Prefer to talk to a human? No problem, just give us a call at (517) 694-0149 and we’ll be happy to assist you.

No-Fault Reform And Your Businesses

In our next post on No-Fault Reform, we will discuss how Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Laws in 2020 could impact your business. Any business that uses one or more vehicles for their day-to-day will be affected by the new No-Fault laws and should be aware of the changes. 

Like with personal auto insurance, choosing the amount of Bodily Injury coverage is an important decision. Many believe choosing a lower amount will give them the opportunity to lower their insurance premium but there are a few things to consider before making this choice. 

The Change

The State minimum used to be 20k per person and 40k per accident.  That has been increased to 250/500k. You may request higher limits as well for an increase in premium.  This covers you for injuries to others if you are at fault in an auto accident.

Before you choose a lower coverage amount to get a lower premium, consider:

  • Your premium reduction will most likely be incredibly small
  • If an employee or a covered party is injured, medical bills could quickly exceed $250,000

The new law will also have a “default” coverage of $250,000 unless you sign a form to acknowledge that you understand the potential risk of taking a lower liability limit or choose unlimited. 

Protect Yourself from the Every Day

Not many businesses will experience a catastrophic event. Luckily, the odds of someone in your business hitting a pedestrian or causing a terrible accident are fairly low (but it could happen so you should be prepared).  

But, it’s not the catastrophic events you should be focusing on. 

Instead, consider a much smaller incident, like a fender bender. It might not seem consequential, but let’s look at a situation. 

Say one of your drivers rear-ends another car at a stoplight. They were slowing down so it was low speed and there wasn’t a lot of damage, it seems like a minor accident. 

But the driver of the rear-ended car bumps his knee on the steering at just enough of angle to cause a limp for a few days. While he thinks it’s ok, after a few weeks, the pain doesn’t go away. 

While the driver’s insurance will cover any immediate medical bills, once he reaches his coverage limit (and if he chose a low coverage amount it will happen fast), he and his lawyers are going to look to the business that owned the car that hit him. 

If he has to go to physical therapy for the rest of his life because of how he bumped his knee, those bills will add up. When his money runs out, he will come to you. Consistent bills like that could ruin a business if you don’t have the coverage to pay for it.  

Or, there is always the possibility of being sued even if the situation didn’t seem that serious to begin with. For more serious accidents, you could be sued for costs that go beyond pain and suffering. 

Awareness is the Key

It’s important to be aware of what could happen if you choose a lower amount. 

By choosing a lower option than what you currently have, you may not be covered in the event of a catastrophic, or small, incident. 

To increase awareness of these new options, you will be required to sign a form at every renewal stating that you are choosing the same level of coverage (or you’ll have the option to change it). If you don’t make a choice, your policy will revert to unlimited coverage. 

To learn more about your coverage options and who is covered under No-Fault Reform, you can study the document on our website. We highly recommend taking a look and writing down any questions you may have. Then, when you’re ready, contact an agent to chat about how these changes will affect your business. 

Choosing Commercial Auto Insurance

If you run a business that relies on delivery or transport, vehicles and the employees that drive them are the lifeblood of your business and need to be protected. Business Automobile Liability Insurance, or commercial auto insurance, will help you cover the costs of repairing or replacing company vehicles and will help protect the driver in the event of an accident. What’s covered, though, depends on the boundaries of the insurance policy. 
If vehicles are the driving force behind your business, we’ve laid out some things you should know and some factors you should consider when choosing commercial auto insurance.

Do You Need It?

First, you should decide whether or not you need commercial auto insurance. You can determine that by answering a few questions. 
Does your business…

  • Deliver goods using a vehicle?
  • Offer transportation service to people?
  • Transport items?
  • Transport hazardous items?
  • Tow or plow?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need commercial auto insurance. But, keep in mind that the type of business you own will also determine whether you need commercial insurance. If you’re a sole proprietor, you might only need personal auto insurance. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to talk to an agent. Better to ask than to go without and put yourself at risk. 

Identify the blind spots in your business and make sure you’re covered with our Business Coverage Assessment

Policy Coverage

If you do determine that you need commercial auto insurance, you need to make sure the policy you choose will do what you need it to do. 
The right commercial auto insurance policy should cover:

  • Bodily injury
  • Medical coverage
  • Collisions
  • Damage not from collisions
  • Towing and labor costs
  • Loading and unloading liabilities 
  • Property Damage 

The coverage for your business will vary and should be discussed with an agent. 

How Much Will It Cost

The price of your policy will vary based on your needs. An agent will be able to help you determine what coverage you should have and what you don’t need but there are outside factors that will determine the cost of your coverage no matter what you choose to cover. 
Some of those factors include:

  • The value of vehicles
  • The types of vehicles
  • Employee driving records
  • Amount of coverage
  • Items being transported

Your potential for risk is what will inevitably determine the cost of your coverage so it’s in your best interest to make sure your hiring drivers and employees with good records, who can be trusted with your vehicles and cargo. 

Fleet Insurance

If you have multiple vehicles, you should look into Fleet Insurance. This will provide liability coverage for all the vehicles owned by your company no matter who is driving them. Your employees can drive any vehicle in your fleet and still be insured if they cause an accident. 
The most important part of choosing commercial auto insurance is making sure you have the right coverage for your business. 
Don’t’ put your vehicles and drivers at risk. Talk to an agent today or use our coverage calculator to make sure you’re covered! 

Professional Liability Insurance for Local Professionals

Professional Liability Insurance for Local Professionals

Professional liability insurance, also known as Errors & Omissions (E&O) coverage, is a type of insurance policy designed specifically to cover professional service providers such as consultants, doctors, lawyers, and CPAs. It’s designed to cover these professionals in the event of mistakes, omissions (made by accident or error), or false claims.   

For example, if a CPA is providing tax services and gets something wrong on the client’s tax form, it might later come to the client’s attention that this mistake could have saved them $5,000. If they choose to sue for that money, the CPA would have to pay it directly. With E&O coverage, they would simply pay their deductible.  

How is it determined what risks fall under E&O?

Whether something is considered an error, an omission, or whether it falls under another category (and is better covered by another insurance policy, like general liability) differs from profession to profession. In the legal and medical professionals, the definitions are very clear, while others are more nebulous.

For those professions without clear E&O definitions, it falls to the legal system whether or not E&O occurred and it’s up to the individuals trying to get the settlement to prove that it was justified.

They don’t have to prove that their claim is absolutely true in order to benefit from professional liability insurance.

The insurance protects against the claim, not the settlement.

From here, it’s up to the policyholder to decide whether to use their E&O policy or to pay out of pocket and keep their insurance rates down.

What if the client makes a false claim?

Spurious claims can and do happen. To prepare, service providers such as doctors, create standard letters with their lawyers which they use to respond and help clear them up. These responses are sent to the E&O policy provider. As soon as the E&O provider is involved, however, your premiums will go up, regardless of the outcome of the claim. As such, taking steps to protect against false claims is recommended.

That said, the burden of proof is ultimately on the professional because they have the expertise needed in order to disprove an error or omission. As such, many minimize risk by closely documenting their services, timestamping emails, and recording and recapping all conversations.

Written confirmations outlining and documenting as much as possible can stop false claims before they have the chance to get to court.

Furthermore, well-written contracts that identify how services are provided in different circumstances can help professionals cover themselves against false claims that may otherwise raise their insurance premiums (even if the professional successfully defends themselves against a claim).

Should you protect yourself with professional liability insurance?

If you’re in one of the professions named here, you are not immune to risk or mistakes and professional liability insurance is the best way to protect yourself in the event of a claim. It’s almost important to keep accurate documentation, create well-written contracts, and talk openly with your clients or patients about any concerns. Failure to do so could expose you to risk that could be financially ruinous.

Not sure what coverage you need for your business? Take our 2-minute Commercial Business Assessment and find out!