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Insurance know-how: Keep your JanSan company a float

September 19, 2010
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Too many people think insurance is only there to protect them in case of a major catastrophe, such as a hurricane or earthquake.

They don’t think about the more common — and more probable — situations that can threaten their home or business.

As a building services contractor (BSC), take a moment to think about the risks to your business.

What if you were sued because an employee took property from a customer — or stole computer files containing irreplaceable information?

What if one of your employees accidentally spilled cleaning products at a contract site and caused a pollution problem?

What if your biggest customer was forced out of business and your main source of income dried up?

Any one of these incidents could happen and cause serious problems for your business — and some might even put you out of business.

You probably have insurance to protect your business and that’s good, but you need to make sure you have the right insurance in the right amount to keep your company where it needs to be — afloat and moving ahead.

Make sure you’re covered
The first step in making sure your business is adequately covered is to buy the correct business insurance.

A typical business owner’s policy will provide property insurance with:

  • Equipment breakdown coverage
  • General liability insurance
  • Commercial auto coverage
  • Workers’ compensation

You also want to make sure you have umbrella coverage, business income coverage, employment practices liability insurance, and protection against crime and employee dishonesty.

Normally these coverages will be included in a package policy, but you need to make sure you have them all.

Professionals in the building cleaning and maintenance business also need to make sure they have protection against risks particular to the industry, such as:

  • Lost key coverage, which pays to replace lost keys, adjust locks, or purchase and install new locks.
  • Property in your care, custody, or control coverage, which covers damages to property loaned to your company or in your care, custody or control.
  • Theft of customer property coverage, which provides liability-based coverage for burglary, robbery, theft, or mysterious disappearance losses that result from your negligence — e.g., an employee whose failure to lock a building allows a thief to steal your customer’s computer equipment.
  • Employee benefits liability, which covers you for employee claims stemming from negligent administration of your employee benefits program.
  • Limited pollution coverage, which provides coverage for accidental job site pollution incidents that arise from pollutants, brought on site by you or your employees.
  • Dependent properties coverage, which replaces income lost due to damage sustained by a customer.
  • Coverage for employees’ tools and equipment used on the job.

Look for an insurer that offers all the coverage your business needs.

For smaller firms, some insurers bring together key coverages into a single business owner’s policy that is customized to the specific risks of a BSC.

Not all carriers provide industry-specific coverages for BSCs, and some impose exclusions or narrow definitions; work closely with your insurance agent to make sure the policy you choose provides everything you need.

Choosing an insurance carrier
To get the most out of your insurance plan, make sure the insurance carrier you select has experience in the JanSan industry.

The more the insurer knows about your business, the more confident you can be that it will provide a cohesive business insurance program that minimizes gaps in your protection.

You also want to make sure you’re working with a financially strong, stable insurance company, with a reputation of reliability and integrity.

If you’re putting the future of your business in this insurer’s hands, you want to make sure it has a solid history of paying claims.

Choose an insurance company with a reputation for paying legitimate claims with a minimal amount of stress, and one whose claims representatives are responsive to customers’ needs in times of crisis.

Again, your agent can help you with this search.

Speaking of agents, make sure you work with a qualified, professionally licensed insurance agent who has a reputation for delivering quality service.

This agent will act as your advisor, helping you select the carrier and the insurance package that best meets the needs of your business.

Once you’ve found an insurance carrier that meets all of your criteria, you should consider buying all of your business insurance policies through that one company.

This will help ensure that your coverages fit together seamlessly, without costly gaps or overlap.

It can also streamline the process of filing and settling claims, since you’ll only have to deal with one insurance company.

Get the most out of your insurance
Because you spend a healthy part of your budget on insurance coverage, you need to make sure you’re getting the most out of every insurance dollar.

While insurance can be complex and sometimes confusing, it provides valuable protection your company can’t afford to be without.

Allan Sague is an industry practice manager for The Hartford Financial Service, Inc.
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