Most forms of insurance can be divided into two main types, commercial insurance lines and personal insurance lines. Commercial lines, which constitute roughly half of the insurance market, contain the various kinds of insurance that business owners both small and large may seek out to protect their companies.
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Why is Commercial Insurance so Important?
Commercial insurance is crucial in the world economy because it protects it from failure through negating the risks that arise as part of production and distribution. Without commercial insurance, the economy could not function. More than seven million small business owners in the United States need this coverage, such as labor firms, home based businesses, or restaurants – to name a few. Without proper commercial insurance lines, any of these could be sued out of existence due to a single suit or disaster. In addition, most businesses are accountable for the safety of their workers and bear responsibility for injuries suffered on the job.
What Does Commercial Insurance Coverage Include?
Commercial Insurance has many moving parts. Commercial coverage includes:
Commercial Vehicle Insurance: Whether one vehicle or a fleet, these vehicles will require a different type of coverage than personal lines. If employees are using personal vehicles for company business, they will most likely need to be insured as well.
Worker’s Compensation Insurance: Wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence
Federal Flood Insurance: Specialized coverage, part of a federal program, that protects in the event of flooding.
Aircraft Insurance: Whether owning or renting the aircraft, coverage for all aspects of utilizing a plane for business.
Ocean Marine Insurance: Coverage covering the transport of goods or materials by vessel whether on foreign or domestic waterways.
Medical Malpractice Insurance: Protects doctors, dentists and other medical professionals from liability associated with wrongful practices resulting in bodily injury, medical expenses and property damage, as well as the cost of defending lawsuits related to such claims.
Contractor Package Plans: Frequently called a Business Owner’s Policy, protects against losses to property as well as general and professional liability. May also cover loss of income, valuable documents and electronic data.
Commercial Inventory Coverage: Business property insurance policies – sometimes called commercial property insurance – protect your property, as well as inventory or assets, against loss or damage caused by theft, an accident or some other means.
Farm and Ranch: Coverage that ensures that employees, machinery, property, livestock and products are protected.
Surety and Fidelity Bonds: Specialty coverages guarding against lack of performance or covers losses that incurred as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals.
Special Liability: Also known as event insurance, provides coverage for damages if there is an accident at your event that causes injury or property damage.
Commercial insurance also protects against detrimental financial losses from a number of possible occurrences, such as workplace accidents and resulting lawsuits, as well as many other circumstances. Coverages and premiums for these coverages vary by type and size of your business, as well as its location.
How is Commercial Insurance Customized for My Business?
Each policy will be personally drawn up for your type of business in order to fit your specific needs. Often, in addition to general coverage, firms purchase additional coverage for specific projects that also coverage punitive damages.
Commercial insurance is not strictly for large corporate entities. Most small companies can benefit from commercial coverage because any existing lines most likely provide little or no insurance for business activities. For instance, a home-based business may need commercial insurance for a delivery vehicle, coverage that insures its driver, property insurance to cover the business premises, and a liability line to insure against lawsuits from consumers or customers claiming harm from the product.
Commercial insurance is highly specialized and with significant complexities in establishing the right coverage clearly point to utilizing an experienced agent to put together your commercial insurance plan.
Where Do I Start Comparing Commercial Insurance Providers?
When comparing Commercial Insurance providers and plans, consider the following aspects of customer care in this order of priority:
Claims Processing: How quickly does the insurer respond to claims? Do they quibble over small claims, take a long time to pay out an approved claim, or have a history of denying legitimate claims? Of course, you want an insurer who will quickly handle claims and appropriately pay on valid claims.
Coverage Options: An Umbrella Commercial Insurance policy will cover the basics of what you need, but some insurers offer more specialized plans that include more specific coverage that your business actually needs, helping you save and avoid paying for coverage that doesn’t apply to you.
Discounts: Unlike auto and life insurance, there aren’t many common discounts offered for Commercial Insurance, but they can still be found! Most often, your best bet is to work directly with an agent to gain their assistance in finding you any applicable discounts.
Customer Support: With claims as well as simple account support, you need a commercial insurance provider with the quality of customer service to fully support you when you need information or assistance. Beyond that, you need commercial insurance agent who knows their stuff, who can point you to a better coverage plan or special discounts so you should choose an insurer who also has expert commercial insurance agents.
Pricing: Price should not be the first thing you consider with insurance of any kind, since insurance isn’t typically apples-to-apples in coverage. That’s why pricing is much lower on our list of priorities to consider with commercial insurance coverage. But it is still an important consideration to make sure you’re getting the best and most comprehensive coverage for your money.
Where Can I Get Commercial Insurance?
Most insurers for auto, homeowner’s and standard business insurance also offer commercial insurance coverage. Use our helpful agent locator tool to find a qualified, AgentReview-verified commercial insurance agent in your area:
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According to independent industry benchmark studies from J.D. Power, the leading provider of Commercial Insurance for Small Businesses in the U.S. in 2016 was American Family. Nationwide followed closely, with a far better Claims rating than American Family, despite coming in behind AmFam with Pricing. The rankings for the award were based on how the insurer stood with their clients with regards to Overall Satisfaction, Policy Offerings, Pricing, Billing and Payment, Interaction, and Claims.
We’ve done the research, and have the following notes on the top-ranked commercial insurance companies around the U.S. (alphabetically):
AIG’s commercial umbrella liability coverage is available for companies of all sizes. Their casualty claims handling has been rated best-in-class, and their coverage is flexible with the advantage of enhancement options to customize coverage to meet your specific needs. And AIG offers casualty risk consulting so that you can work to keep accidents from happening in the first place.
Whether your business is large or small, AIG’s custom-fitted admitted and non-admitted coverage includes limits up to $50 million. Coverage enhancements are targeted by industry to tailor your policy to cover critical risks specific to your business and operations. In the case of an accident, AIG’s CrisisResponse® coverage supports you through crisis management with additional funds if necessary, as well as public relations services to mitigate the repercussions to your future revenue. Finally, AIG’s commercial umbrella liability coverage is global, helping reduce liability for businesses with multinational exposures.
American Family Insurance offers Commercial Umbrella Liability Insurance to cover businesses in the case of a high cost accident or lawsuit that isn’t covered in full by a standard business insurance policy. American Family Insurance has a helpful AmFam App to easily manage your policy, get tools for reducing risk at your business, and more.
Their claims process has earned J.D. Power and Associates high satisfaction rankings, particularly with auto and property insurance. However, the reviews are mixed – most negative reviews have to do with homeowners’ insurance claims that were denied despite legitimacy, although American Family’s customer service and support has also been praised by reviewers. American Family also has contractors in their Certified Repair Program if you require more rapid repairs to your business and can’t get more expedient work from general contractors. From their public list of discounts, they don’t offer discounts for Commercial Umbrella Liability Insurance, but your agent may be able to access special discounts on your behalf.
AmTrust offers commercial insurance packages that are tailored to the small business market, with multi-line insurance policies for commercial lines, employment liability practices, and workers’ compensation, which they specialize in facilitating. Using efficiency-enhancing elements such as an automated claims system and highly experienced claims adjusters, AmTrust is able to provide quick, comprehensive claims management. AmTrust has consistently held an Excellent “A” rating with A.M. Best, a recognized insurance rating company.
Small businesses choose AmTrust for commercial insurance coverage options that are tailored for small business. After workers’ compensation, AmTrust offers coverage products for business owners, commercial auto, employment practices, excess and surplus, restaurants, auto service, surety bonds, lumber specialty, transportation, cyber liability, financial institutions, state disability, contractors’ equipment, and even nonprofits.
CalNonprofits Insurance Services is even more niche than AmTrust in their insurance offerings; with exclusive products for nonprofit organizations. Formerly CAN Insurance Services, the company is known for providing competitive rates and excellent customer service.
Beyond employee benefits coverage and workers’ compensation, their commercial insurance products include coverage for directors and officers, auto, cyber liability, sexual misconduct, property, Employee Benefits Liability, employee dishonesty, and more. CalNonprofits’ umbrella liability coverage is another layer of protection for your general liability and other property and/or casualty liability coverage policy. The company offers helpful resources for risk assessment and management, compliance and education, and benefits analysis and consultation.
Chubb Ltd was rated the 8th largest commercial property & casualty insurer in the U.S. in 2013, and is best known for their commercial insurance products. While Chubb specializes in providing commercial umbrella and excess liability coverage to the construction industry, their policies are beneficial for businesses in any industry. In 2016, Chubb was purchased by Ace Limited, and the two insurers joined under the Chubb name to become a formidable international insurer.
Chubb provides businesses with more than 170 commercial insurance products. These cover a large variety of needs and industries, including general liability, auto, and workers’ compensation. The volume of products and vast range of industries they serve make Chubb a well-known commercial insurer. They are well known for efficient and quick claims management, customer service, and feedback.
The Hartford has over 200 years of history in the insurance business, and is one of the larger insurers in the U.S. The company promises a fast, hassle-free claims handling process with a 6-point guarantee to ensure this, which is likely the reason for their “A-” rating with the Better Business Bureau and A.M. Best, a recognized insurance rating company. The Hartford also
earned a 5 out of 5 rating overall in J.D. Power’s Purchase Experience survey for 2015. Insure.com awarded The Hartford with the “People’s Choice Award”, which is given to the top three insurers based on customer satisfaction metrics. Satisfaction with The Hartford extends beyond consumers and clients to the company’s agents and employees, with numerous awards and recognition as an employer and community-focused business.
More than 1 million small businesses use The Hartford for their commercial insurance coverage. The company has a dedicated team of small business specialists, and offers a long list of commercial insurance products covering auto/flood, business owner’s policy, workers’ compensation, data breach, management & professional liability, home-based business, employment practices liability, and more. The Hartford’s Commercial Umbrella Insurance is incredibly flexible, even to the point of providing liability coverage for policies your business has with other insurance companies, when a covered claim exceeds the limits of your primary coverage with those companies.
Liberty Mutual offers industry-specific commercial insurance coverage as well as business insurance for small to large companies. With more than 100 years in the insurance industry, their experience is proven. Liberty Mutual has consistently held an Excellent “A” rating with A.M. Best, and consumer complaints about the company are lower than the median for its size.
One of the perks of Liberty Mutual insurance is its 24-hour claims service. Like the other companies Liberty Mutual offers coverage for workers’ compensation and other common business liabilities, but they also offer policies for equipment breakdown, group programs and third party administration. Their umbrella commercial insurance covers up to $35 million with Liberty Mutual primary liability policies, and as much as $25 million in coverage for your primary liability policy with another carrier. It’s an extra layer of coverage and protection for your business, that applies in most parts of the world.
Progressive is one of the more innovative insurance companies today, and their humorous TV commercials and low rates have made them a popular, economical choice for auto insurance. Their commercial insurance policies extend to commercial auto insurance, and SNL Financial’s 2015 national written premium data lists Progressive at the top of the list for commercial auto insurers.
General business insurance for coverage of general liability, workers’ compensation, contractors, professional liability, and business owners’ policy are also available with Progressive. While Progressive often offers the lowest price for insurance and they maintain an “A” rating on A.M. Best, their claims processing for auto insurance seems to be lacking and many consumers have experienced frustration.
Travelers was rated the 2nd largest commercial property & casualty insurer in the U.S. in 2013, followed by Liberty Mutual and Zurich Insurance Group, which are also listed in this guide. The company also has an “A+” rating with A.M. Best and the Better Business Bureau. It’s also one of the older insurance companies on this list, with more than 150 years in the insurance industry.
Their commercial insurance products include solutions for general liability, commercial auto & trucking, cyber liability, management & professional liability, property, small business owners, surety bonds and workers’ compensation. Travelers has a proven record of effective and quick claims management, with additional services to help your business identify and reduce risk to protect and grow your business. Their online claims center is one of the better ones available to consumers, with easy-to-find links for reporting and checking on claims, finding repair shops, and getting advice from experts in catastrophe response.
Zurich Insurance Group is headquartered in Switzerland, but serves 170 countries. Under the U.S. arm, Zurich North America, the company operates with additional companies it owns, including Farmers Insurance and 21st Century. Zurich North America offers completely tailored small business commercial insurance policies, and unlike most insurance companies listed here, they do not offer insurance for individuals. Instead, Zurich primarily serves businesses of all sizes, with a particular focus on multinational companies.
From coverage for workers’ compensation, surety bonds, general liability, and property, to more detailed policies for private equity, political risk, environmental and international liability, Zurich has a long list of commercial insurance products that businesses of any size may need. The company also offers flexible umbrella and excess solutions, with provision for high limits of capacity up to $50 million. Zurich Insurance Group has long held an Excellent “A” rating with A.M. Best.
In addition to the insurance providers we’ve listed above, many state and regional insurance companies offer localized commercial insurance plans that may be a good fit.
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