As an interior designer, you transform homes, offices and other spaces with furniture, lighting, flooring, fabrics and other design elements. You must interpret the tastes and desires of every individual client and successfully bring them to life.
Interior designers typically have an artistic vision coupled with attention to detail, business savvy and excellent people skills. You may work out of your home or an office, a design studio, or a retail space.
Interior designers face risks like any business, and you have some unique exposures as well. You need comprehensive business insurance to help protect you and ensure your business can thrive even when things go wrong.
Whether you work from home or from an office or retail space, you have a variety of risk exposures that can harm your business:
- Slips, trips and falls at your office or studio
- Employee injuries
- Damage to other people’s property
- Mistakes or professional negligence
- Fire, weather events, theft or vandalism that causes damage to your office, equipment or other business property
- Cyber breach
- Auto accidents while driving for business purposes
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Is a Business Owners Policy Right for You?
You need a comprehensive interior designer insurance portfolio to cover your risks. You may be eligible for a discounted package called a business owners policy (BOP), which provides several essential types of coverage in one convenient, bundled policy designed for small businesses.
Only certain businesses are eligible for a business owners policy, depending on factors such as these:
- The size of the business property
- The necessary liability limits
- The type of business
- The extent of the business’s off-site activity
Premiums for business owners policies are also based on these factors as well as the following:
- The business’s location and financial stability
- The type of building construction
- The building’s security features
- Potential fire hazards
Business owners policies include the following types of coverage:
- Property coverage protects buildings and their contents, such as computers, office furniture, design samples, supplies, furnishings, fixtures, drafting tables and office equipment whether the buildings and contents are owned or leased. It reimburses you for property that is lost, damaged or destroyed due to fire, smoke, hail, windstorms, lightning, theft, vandalism and certain other causes of loss. Whether you own your office space or you lease it, property insurance protects what is most valuable to you.
- Business interruption coverage compensates you for lost business income and pays for ongoing operating expenses if you must temporarily close or relocate following a covered loss (e.g., a building fire or a tornado).
- Liability coverage pays for claims of bodily injury and property damage to third parties due to your negligence (e.g., when a client trips and sustains injuries at your office or when an employee damages a valuable vase while visiting a client’s home). If you are sued, this policy pays for your defense costs and any settlements or judgments that you must pay. In addition, business liability insurance provides coverage for claims of libel, slander and advertising liability that are made against you. Our partner, Thimble, provides this type of coverage quickly via their site.
Interior Designers Professional Liability Coverage
While general liability insurance provides broad coverage for bodily injury and property damage caused by your business, it does not cover you for failures, mistakes or oversights in the professional services that you provide.
What if a project is not completed as promised or you fail to complete a project on time or on budget? Delays or other unexpected problems (bad measurements, wrong flooring installed) can be costly for your clients.
You can be sued for errors or professional negligence that harm your clients, and you can make mistakes — no matter how careful you are. One lawsuit can be financially devastating.
Interior designer's professional liability insurance provides the financial security and peace of mind you need. Professional liability insurance, or errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, provides coverage for design professionals, their partners, their employees, and the partnership or corporation for damage caused by providing or failing to provide professional services.
It covers costs associated with your legal defense if you are sued (even if the lawsuit is unfounded) as well as any judgments or settlements that you must pay. Most errors and omissions policies can be customized for your particular area of expertise and for the risks you face.
There are numerous instances in which an interior designer can be sued for professional negligence, including the following:
- Using the wrong materials (flooring, furniture, fixtures, etc.)
- Giving bad or erroneous advice
- Failing to communicate changes in plans, materials, timelines and other pertinent information about a project
- Making mistakes in scheduling, ordering or measuring
- Failing to complete a project on time
- Failing to complete a project within budget
While interior designer's professional liability insurance protects you in these situations, it excludes coverage for criminal, fraudulent and malicious acts as well as liability claims that are covered under one of your other interior designer insurance policies.
Other Insurance Policies for Interior Designers
Like many other businesses, the risks you face as an interior designer likely don’t end with basic property and liability concerns. You should talk with an independent insurance agent about your need for other types of interior designer insurance, including the following:
- Cyber liability insurance, or data breach insurance, protects your business if sensitive customer information is compromised in some type of cyber attack or breach. If sensitive customer information — such as credit card numbers — were exposed, the costs for you and your customers could be devastating. Cyber liability insurance typically provides coverage for legal fees, costs associated with notifying customers of the breach, investigation costs, public relations costs and more, depending on your needs.
- As an interior designer, you probably spend as much time on the road as you do in the office. If you or your employees drive company-owned vehicles or if you own delivery vans or other types of business autos, you need commercial auto insurance. If you rent vehicles or employees drive personal cars for business purposes, you need commercial auto liability insurance as well.
- Commercial umbrella insurance or excess liability insurance provides coverage above and beyond what is available in your general liability and other applicable liability policies. It begins providing benefits when the limits of your other liability policies have been exhausted. And it's invaluable if you are ever faced with a multimillion dollar lawsuit.
- If you live in an area prone to certain natural disasters, you may need flood insurance or earthquake insurance to protect your business from such occurrences.
- Employment practices liability insurance protects you if an employee sues you for discriminatory employment practices.
- Workers’ compensation insurance is required for nearly any business that has employees. It protects your employees from the costs related to work-related illnesses or injuries, and it prevents you from being sued in these cases.