Proper insurance coverage is crucial to any business but it is particularly important in a small business and in this economy when every expense needs to be examined.
In a recent IRIS chapter meeting we began a discussion about insurance needs and getting straight answers from agents about what is and is not covered in our policies. It often seems as if coverage is subject to interpretation. In several instances, members who had the same policies were told by one agent that they had coverage for specific services while another in the same office told them they weren't. How often does this happen?
Insurance can be confusing enough without having to wonder if the agents understand what they are selling you.
There are no standards of coverage for stagers and redesigners as far as I know. Please correct me if I am wrong. There may be variables depending on what services are offered and if you tend to work in with higher end properties where damage to the premises or furnishings may involve more expensive claims. An informal survey indicated $1-2M liability coverage as average.
One key to getting proper coverage is to make sure your agent fully understands what your services are and specifically what it is that you do. Do you hang pictures, mirrors shelving and/or curtain rods for example? Some insurance policies may consider that altering a structure and classify what you do more in line with a contractor who does renovations, resulting in far more coverage than you may need.
You might also be classified as an interior designer (be careful of that for other reasons) which may cost you more since they often specify structural changes and so are subject to liability claims stagers and redesigners wouldn't encounter.
Do you have business equipment insurance for your office as well as your tools? What is it costing you compared to what it would cost to replace each piece?
It is difficut to compare policies on your own. Not only the wording but the nuances of terms as applied to set circumstance by each company can make it incomprehensible. A good agent should be able to help you find the right coverage.
Make a list of questions and get answers in writing. If you get a "take it or leave it" attitude or impatience over your questions it's time to go elsewhere. Go over your policy when you get it to be sure it covers what was discussed and to clarify any items you don't understand.
Have you had a good/bad experience with obtaining insurance? Worried that you are under or over insured? Please share!
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