Everything you need to know about insurance for your home-based business.
If you operate a home office or run a small business from your home, it’s imperative you carry an insurance policy that protects you. A standard homeowners insurance policy is highly unlikely to provide adequate coverage for your home business or related activities. Most home policies only provide only $2,500 of protection for business equipment, providing no liability coverage for business-related actions, leaving many home businesses without proper coverage.
While insurance companies' offerings vary widely, home-based small business owners usually have a few options when it comes to insurance. Read on to see what coverage option is best-suited to protect you and your assets.
The type of home-based business property insurance you need depends on the size and nature of your operation. Many insurers specifically define what constitutes an eligible business — even if it doesn’t generate a profit. States have their own regulations concerning home business eligibility and coverage availability.
One option is a home business policy in the form of an endorsement — or rider — added to a standard homeowners insurance policy. These add-ons come in a few shapes and sizes.
This is an especially helpful addition to a homeowners insurance policy for professionals who keep a secondary home office. It can be a great option for freelancers or someone who works from home on a fairly regular basis.
Such professions typically include:
A Permitted Incidental Occupancies endorsement is ideal if your home office is separate from your primary office. Business activity should also ideally be limited to general tasks such as phone calls, record keeping, or paperwork. Public access should be limited.
Other home business operators might consider such an endorsement, provided business is conducted at the location on a limited or part-time basis.
These occupations include:
If the business is conducted in a building separate from the primary dwelling — such as an unattached garage — there is likely to be an extra charge. Some insurance companies may even refuse to cover it unless a further endorsement is added.
This endorsement covers limited business activity taking place in the primary dwelling or, in some cases, “other structures,” such as a free-standing garage or other unattached building on your property.
This homeowners policy endorsement provides coverage for any business property. Some insurance companies may offer an endorsement to increase the limits of your business property coverage. For an added cost, you can increase the liability limits for business property from $2,500 to as much as $10,000.
Some insurance companies may allow you to add homeowners liability coverage for added coverage. This isn’t always possible.
Loss of income is not covered by this endorsement, nor are liability or medical payments. Some businesses are not eligible. The following types of businesses may not be covered:
This endorsement is a bit more robust than the Permitted Incidental Occupancies add-on. Instead of simply providing coverage for occasional business activity, the Home Business endorsement covers a wider variety of home-based business activities. While still falling short of a true business owners policy (BOP), a Home Business endorsement will suit the needs of many at-home businesses.
To be eligible for a Home Business endorsement, your business must:
Businesses eligible for this option are by and large the same as the previous endorsement. However, a Home Business endorsement applies to home-based workplaces with as many as three employees. Unlike a Permitted Incidental Occupancies endorsement, a Home Business endorsement provides personal liability, medical payments, business income, extra expense, and business equipment protection.
While the home business endorsement furnishes more coverage, it has its limitations. For one thing, the narrow scope of eligible businesses rules this coverage out for many. If the home office doesn’t meet the criteria listed above, a commercial policy is likely the only viable option.
Furthermore, theft by employees is excluded, as are other dishonest acts. This endorsement provides no commercial liability or professional liability coverage, the latter of which is especially helpful for those who regularly give advice, such as lawyers or financial advisors.
As with the permitted incidental occupancies endorsement above, daycare insurance coverage is also not included — nor are lawn or gardening services.
A handful of other endorsements can be added to the home business endorsement to provide critical coverage.
Business pursuits insurance coverage is a form of professional liability coverage that can often be added to a homeowners policy. It is different from a home business policy in that it provides liability protection against damages that come about through all business activities. To be eligible for this coverage, you cannot be the sole proprietor of the business or even a partner. Business pursuits coverage is a particularly useful endorsement for clerical workers and teachers.
Ultimately, your business needs will determine the type of policy you get. If you are generating revenue approaching $250,000 annually or planning on hiring a number of employees, consider a commercial insurance policy that might meet your needs more fully. If you operate a dedicated business vehicle, you should seek out a commercial auto policy.
Each insurance company has different rules and regulations regarding home business endorsements. To get a better picture of what type of insurance coverage is best for your home business or office,call 888-444-2833 or click below to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We'll help you find a company with great coverage for a home-based small business.