There are about 396,400 small businesses operating in Alabama. The economy of Birmingham is extremely diverse, with nearly 21,000 local businesses. While steel production was once the leading economic engine of the city, Birmingham is now home to a wide variety of large and small businesses. In addition to steel product manufacturers, Birmingham is a powerhouse in biotechnology, medical research, banking, soft drink bottling, insurance, construction, and engineering.
No matter their size, Birmingham business owners need business insurance to protect their assets and their employees. Business insurance is not a single insurance policy; rather, it is a comprehensive set of policies and customized endorsements tailored to the unique risks of every business. It’s important for every Birmingham business owner to understand their exposures and find the right coverage. A local independent insurance agent can help you assess your risks, compare policies and quotes, and make an informed decision.
Liability Insurance for Small Businesses in Birmingham, AL
It’s not uncommon for lawsuits alleging negligence by a business to result in judgments of $1 million dollars or more. If your business were sued for some kind of error, negligence, or a faulty product, how would you pay for attorney fees, court costs, and any judgments levied against you? The best way to be sure you are covered is to purchase liability insurance. A commercial general liability (CGL) policy offers broad protection from lawsuits. It can mean the difference between staying in business and declaring bankruptcy should you be faced with serious allegations.
A CGL policy has two major coverage components:
- Premises liability insurance: Covers third-party damage, injuries, or illnesses that occur due to an accident on your business property.
- Product liability insurance: Covers third-party damage, injuries, or illnesses caused by a defect in a product your company produces, sells or promotes.
CGL is not enough coverage for many businesses. In fact, commercial general liability insurance excludes coverage for certain types of lawsuits, such as those related to employment disputes, and claims of professional errors or negligence. In these and other cases, you might need additional policies or endorsements to ensure you are fully protected.
An independent insurance agent can help you assess your need for additional liability coverage, such as:
- Professional liability insurance, or errors and omissions (E&O) insurance: Covers lawsuits arising from rendering negligent professional services or failing to perform professional duties. It is often recommended for people in professional positions, such as lawyers, accountants, architects, and IT professionals, but it is becoming more common for a variety of business types.
- Commercial auto liability insurance: Covers your vehicle fleet and drivers if an employee causes an accident while driving a business-owned vehicle.
- Liquor liability insurance: Protects businesses that serve, sell, or otherwise furnish alcohol to patrons if an intoxicated patron causes damages to others.
- Employment practices liability insurance: Covers your business against accusations of harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, or other illegal business practices.
An independent agent can help you determine which commercial liability products are right for your Birmingham business.
Cyber Liability Insurance for Birmingham Businesses
Data can be breached in many ways, from stolen laptops and other portable devices to rogue employees, theft of digital assets, human error, and more. Would your standard business liability insurance protect you if your electronic data were stolen, your website were shut down by a power failure or by being hacked, or if someone filed slander or libel allegations against your business based on a social media post?
- Number of identity theft complaints in Alabama per year: 3,770
- Ranked 22nd highest for identity theft complaints in the US
- Only 22% of businesses have a cyber/data breach response plan
If you are sued because of a data breach or other cybercrime, your business is responsible for paying legal fees, court-ordered judgments or settlements, and any other court-related costs.
You will also need to notify your customers of the breach, provide them with credit monitoring services, and undertake extensive public relations efforts to repair your public image. Imagine the financial blow this would be to a small firm.
Cyber liability coverage protects your business assets by paying for your legal defense, settlements and judgments, and even PR and other related expenses. The cyber insurance market is still evolving, so finding the right policy can be challenging.
Be sure to ask an independent agent about how cyber liability insurance can help you protect your Birmingham business.
Property Insurance for Small Businesses in Birmingham, AL
Birmingham is no stranger to disasters. The area has a history of severe storms and has even been impacted by hurricanes.
Severe weather can wipe out your business in one fell swoop. And even everyday occurrences like fires, break-ins, or vandalism can cause serious damage and jeopardize your ability to operate.
- Number of federally declared disasters in Alabama since 1953: 93
- Most common reasons for declared disasters in Alabama: Severe Storms
Birmingham business owners need commercial property insurance to ensure they can repair, rebuild, or even relocate if disaster strikes. Property insurance covers your company’s physical assets, including buildings and office space, merchandise, inventory, tools, machinery, computers, office furnishings, and more when physical damage occurs.
Remember that commercial property insurance doesn’t cover your physical assets in every situation. You might need special coverage for specialized equipment and machines, or for materials, inventory, or tools that are in transit. Ask your insurance agent about equipment breakdown coverage or inland marine coverage to supplement your commercial property insurance policy.
Business Interruption Insurance for Birmingham Businesses
Major disasters can force you to close your business while you make repairs or rebuild your commercial property. For small businesses especially, the lost income and ongoing expenses during the rebuilding process can be impossible to overcome. Business interruption insurance can be your financial lifeline during this critical period. Business interruption coverage, or business income coverage, protects your earnings if your business is unable to operate because of damage after a fire, hail, wind, equipment breakdown, or some other covered event.
If you are forced to close your doors for some time in order to make repairs, this coverage pays for rent, employee salaries, lost income, relocation fees and more. Business interruption insurance is usually a part of your commercial property policy or a business owners policy (BOP). A local independent insurance agent can help you assess your risks and help you get the coverage you need.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Birmingham, AL Businesses
Keeping your employees safe from work-related injuries and illnesses is important for their long-term health and satisfaction, as well as your company’s financial viability. Excessive employee injuries and illnesses can be financially devastating for your business. Workers’ compensation insurance provides insurance coverage when accidents happen in the workplace. It ensures that the injured worker gets medical care and income protection while unable to work.
Each state has different rules for the number of benefits injured employees are entitled to, what impairments or injuries are covered, how impairments will be evaluated, and how medical care will be delivered. Most businesses in Alabama are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. For example, all employers in the construction industry with one or more employees must purchase Alabama workers’ compensation insurance. There are some exceptions:
- Employers with less than five employees
- Sole proprietors and partners are not required to be covered but can elect to cover themselves
- Coverage is not required for domestic employees, farm laborers, or casual employees and municipalities having a population of less than 2,000
Your independent insurance agent can help you learn more about the workers’ compensation laws in Alabama, and can help you get the best policy you can afford.
Employee Benefits for Small Businesses in Birmingham
Employee benefits are an important component of your comprehensive business insurance plan. A good employee benefits plan that includes health insurance, life insurance, vacation and sick time, and more, helps companies attract and retain top employees. What’s more, employee benefits are linked to a decrease in absenteeism and improved employee morale.
- Average amount spent per year on healthcare coverage by Alabama businesses: $639,311
- Ranked 21st for highest medical insurance costs in the US
- Average annual cost of health care in Alabama: $5,754/person or $13,477/family
There are many different health and life insurance policy types and options available for you to choose from, as well as numerous laws and regulations that you must comply with. A local independent agent can help you find suitable coverage at a competitive price.
Why Work with an Independent Insurance Agent?
Working with an independent insurance agent is the best way to shop around for the best coverage for your business. An independent agent can work with multiple insurance companies, so you can find the right coverage, even if your business has unique or hard-to-place risk exposures.
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