Protect your Washington, DC small business with the right cover from the best small business insurance companies in District of Columbia! We are here to guide you in deciding on the proper levels of insurance at the best available cost.
Even before you start a business in Washington, DC, your planned business practices should take into account protection against unforeseen risks.
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There have been too many instances in District of Columbia where an unexpected event caught even the most properly run small enterprise by surprise and ended up costing the owners far too much.
Do I need business insurance in Washington, DC?
The proper question is not can you afford the cost of insurance in Washington, DC but “can you afford NOT to have insurance in Washington, DC?” .
The experience of thousands of other small businesses in District of Columbia that have taken the risk and suffered the consequences should be enough to answer this in favor of being safe rather than sorry.
How to find the right small business insurance in Washington, DC
There is a wealth of information and help that you should take advantage of when you first begin the process.
Small business insurance in Washington, DC is becoming increasingly specialized, so it’s best to gather information and assistance from every source before you make your decisions.
Before you sign-off on any policy, it’s good practice to check that all of them are issued by companies that comply with the regulations in District of Columbia – here is a link to the guide issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
One quick way to find a listing of the agents, brokers and insurance companies nearby in Washington, DC is to use the power of the Yellow Pages.
What types of insurance does every small business in District of Columbia need?
Any business that is provisioning goods and services to the public in District of Columbia has several main kinds of risks, and should have the right insurance for full cover against loss. The two categories are:
- Loss of or damage to tangible assets
- Losses due to improper business operations
Why is liability insurance essential in Washington, DC
Any and all businesses operating in District of Columbia have accepted the state’s laws concerning liability.
These laws determine your responsibility towards the general public in case some accidental injury or damage occurs to anyone in the course of your business operation, as well as proper execution of your business operations in delivering the services and products you are providing
These two liabilities are usually called Public Liability and Professional Liability, but may also be termed General Liability and Malpractice.
In the rest of the article, we will use the names most familiar to businesses in District of Columbia, which are General Liability Insurance and Errors & Omissions Insurance.
General Liability Insurance
All businesses in Washington, DC should have this fundamental protection.
The coverage provided by the policy will protect your business from claims from a third party that you caused accidental bodily injury or property damage.
With the right cover, you can also protect yourself from claims of personal damages coming from libel or slander.
The important difference between this kind of insurance and E&O insurance is that it covers only for accidental injury to a third-party or loss sustained by a third party that is not the result of your business activity.
Some examples of situations where general liability cover may be needed:
- If you visit an external place of work, or if your place of business is open to the public, any accident that results in physical damage or bodily injury to any party, customer or not, could lead to a claim against you.
- If you accidentally damage any property or equipment belonging to a third party, you could be liable for repairs or replacement.
- If you speak about or write about another business, then any error could result in a libel or slander claim.
What does General Liability Insurance in Washington, DC cover?
The claims that are covered by general liability insurance policies include:
- Related medical bills in case of injury. There may also be claims for ongoing pain and suffering following from an injury, as well as loss of income for missed workdays
- Costs for replacing or fixing property damaged or destroyed
- Any damages awarded or agreed to in a settlement
- Legal costs associated with the defence against any claims. The provision of legal cover is regardless of fault. Your own defense costs, and any costs awarded by a court, up to your policy limit, is fully covered.
What does Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance in Washington, DC cover?
Like all other businesses in Washington, DC the general laws concerning liability in conduct of a business in District of Columbia are clear.
All businesses have what is termed the “duty of care”, which basically means that you conduct your business properly, delivering services and goods according to accepted standards.
While you may be confident in the quality of your work, like any business, you can be sued for negligence when a client’s expectations are not fully met.
If a client claims you’ve made a mistake, offered poor advice or been negligent, this cover is especially important when you are offering an opinion or advice, since it is difficult to prove its validity in any court case.
Even if you are eventually exonerated in a judgement, the legal costs, and reputational damage, could end up costing you more than the claim itself.
The greatest benefit of E&O insurance is that your legal defence is taken up by the insurance company from day one, so that you are guaranteed the best levels of legal advice and actions all the way through.
Asset Insurance in Washington, DC
Whatever a small business in Washington, DC has invested in tangible assets needs to be protected against accidental damage, theft, general hazards and all the other unexpected but possible events that could occur on any given day.
The list of such risks is very long, but the records of many businesses in District of Columbia are proof that even the best run enterprises, large and small, can be ruined by unforeseen developments that are out of their own control.
The main categories of tangible assets that need to be protected are:
- Property and buildings owned or rented
- Equipment owned or rented
- Vehicles owned or leased
A short list of the type of events that can damage or destroy such assets are:
- Hurricanes & tornadoes
These vulnerabilities need to be covered by specific insurance policies, which we outline below.
Commercial Property Insurance in Washington, DC
If you have capital invested in land or buildings in Washington, DC, like when you own the premises, or have a big liability if there’s a mortgage, and even if your business occupies premises it rents, you should, and may be required to, carry Commercial Property insurance against damages from any source including an unforeseen hazard, like a fire, water damage from floods or storms, and all such natural occurrences.
As well, man-made risks such as arson and vandalism must be covered.
Most commercial insurance policies also cover the contents of the building, like computers, furniture and general equipment, but specific equipment cover is necessary for any specialized equipment.
What is covered by a Business Owners Policy (BOP) in Washington, DC
Many insurance companies based in District of Columbia are offering a single policy (BOP) that covers both General Liability and Commercial insurance in a one-size-fits-all package, which makes it cheaper and easier to negotiate.
It is also possible to bundle into the BOP other business covers, such as :
- Data loss or theft
- Employee theft or misappropriation
- Business Interruption
Equipment Insurance for Small Business
When you work in Washington, DC with specialized and costly equipment that is the heart of your business, and it is very expensive to replace it in case of any damage, loss, or theft, then equipment insurance in Washington, DC is a way to keep the business running.
Especially if you run a mobile business where the equipment has to be moved around District of Columbia extensively and sometimes stored in insecure and unsafe environments, the equipment may be subject to malicious damage, deliberate fire, theft, other such deliberate acts, or acts of nature like lightning strikes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other highly damaging natural events.
Commercial Vehicle Insurance in District of Columbia
The proper way to protect a commercial vehicle in District of Columbia is to make sure that it is insured for both its own value, and for valuable contents. For this, you will need a commercial vehicle insurance package.
Commercial vehicle policies insure the value of any vehicle in case of accident, malicious damage, fire, or theft.
Also, in case of any accident, the vehicle itself, the content and any legal bills, medical expenses, and property damage is guaranteed if it is involved in a collision.
The insured value of the insurance should be calculated as the depreciated value of the vehicle, plus an estimate of average level contents.
It is also important to declare the names of all potential drivers. Premiums from insurers in District of Columbia are usually 25-30% higher than for private vehicle cover.
Special cases for businesses in District of Columbia
There are two special cases that fall outside the normal type of business insurance policies. These are for businesses run out of private homes, and businesses that use private vehicles.
In both cases, regular private insurance is invalid for a business in District of Columbia,
It may be necessary, depending on the insurance company’s own policies, for you to either declare the commercial usage, in which case a special clause may be added to the policy, and probably some additional premium paid, or else a separate full commercial property or commercial vehicle insurance policy must be negotiated.
Intangible Assets Insurance in District of Columbia
As well as the insurance of “hard” assets that we described above, a small business is also subject to other risks that may come from losses of intangibles.
In the main, these relate to financial losses coming from:
- Fraud or theft by employees
- Loss of income due to some interruption in operation, for example if a building burns to the ground, taking with it equipment, stock or customer records
- Internet security and privacy breaches
If your business is especially vulnerable to these risks, you should talk to an agent or broker to secure the right level of cover.
The first place to look is in relation to a BOP, which can be expanded to include these covers.
Is short-term insurance a good alternative for small businesses?
If your business in Washington, DC doesn’t operate all through the year, then short-term insurance may be a good option.
The main feature is that you buy only the cover for a specific and defined period – a nominated day, week, or a month.
Any range of specified days – for example for 30 days beginning on the specified date.
This has been a good option for those in District of Columbia working on a part-time or seasonal basis, like in the months when business activity in Washington, DC is at its peak, but there isn’t enough continuous business activity to justify full insurance cover for a whole year.
Temporary insurance coverage can provide you with all the insurance that regular annual policies cover.
This is another case where having the best broker or agent can get you the right cover for the lowest cost.
How much does business insurance cost for an average small business in District of Columbia
The list below is a rough estimate of average annual premiums for the main types of insurance small businesses will have to pay in Washington, DC and could change at any time.
|Insurance type||Price range|
|E&O insurance||$735 – $1170|
|General Liability insurance||$365 – $1115|
|Commercial Property insurance||$985 – $2410|
|Commercial vehicle insurance||$1780 – $3055|
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