When you own a business, you instantly become a target for the unscrupulous. Some people believe that if you own a business, you’re automatically rich, so you’re going to need protection. In the state of Florida, a business must have adequate liability insurance. If your business is taken to court for any reason, an experienced Central Florida business attorney can work aggressively to defend you and your business.
Business owners take on a number of legal obligations, and they typically also face a number of often-confusing legal challenges. Even a criminal trespasser, for example, can sue you if he or she falls and gets injured on your business property. Thus, one of the priorities for protecting your Florida business is liability insurance, also called Commercial General Liability (CGL), which covers four types of incidents that your business could be held liable for: physical bodily injury; damages to another’s property; a personal injury such as slander or libel; and misleading or false marketing or advertising.
PRECISELY WHAT DAMAGES DOES CGL INSURANCE COVER?
CGL does not cover employees; employee coverage is left to Florida’s workers’ compensation system. However, if others sue your business, three types of damages are covered by a CGL policy. Firstly, compensatory damages, which are the financial losses suffered by the injured party and the future losses they may suffer resulting from an injury.
Secondly, general damages, which are for non-monetary losses such as mental anguish or pain and suffering. Finally, punitive damages are any additional penalties and charges a defendant must pay as “punishment’ in a civil case. Generally, however, the following are not covered by CGL insurance in Florida.
Claims from employees regarding sexual harassment, wrongful termination, hiring discrimination, and employment discrimination are covered instead by employment practices liability (EPL) insurance. The cost of your company’s EPL coverage hinges on how many employees you have, if you’ve been sued previously by employees, and other risk factors. EPL also pays a company’s legal costs in these cases.
Claims related to motor vehicles. If your business owns vehicles, you must have separate, commercial auto coverage to protect your employees and your business against claims arising from traffic accidents. If your personal vehicle is used mainly for business, putting the company’s name on the policy helps you sidestep any complications if you need to submit a claim after a traffic collision.
Professional liability insurance covers wrongful practices committed by professionals who provide services: lawyers, healthcare providers, consultants, and other professionals. Professional liability covers faulty, negligent service or the failure to provide services entirely (omission). Malpractice insurance protects doctors and other healthcare providers from liability linked with physical injuries and medical costs, as well as the legal costs involved with such claims.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED IN A FLORIDA CGL INSURANCE QUOTE?
Buy insurance only from someone you can trust, and read every line of every policy. If you aren’t clear about a policy’s provisions, seek a business attorney’s advice. Insurance companies in Florida consider several factors when they offer a Florida commercial general liability insurance policy. The cost of premiums is partially determined by the sales and payroll estimates provided by the company. If final amounts are higher than those estimates, you may be asked to pay
The cost of premiums is partially determined by the sales and payroll estimates provided by the company. If final amounts are higher than those estimates, you may be asked to pay for an incremental premium, but if the final amounts are below the estimates, a refund is possible.
Another consideration is the type of business you’re in. An electrician or a landscaping service will pay more than a company in a less risky business. Insurance companies also must consider the number of claims filed against an industry and the chances of a claim against similar companies; the longevity and stability of a business; state laws and industry regulations, standards, and practices; and the company’s methods of preventing and managing potential risks. If you can document a history of good safety practices and procedures, your business may be deemed a lower risk and charged reduced premiums.
Liability insurance is an imperative for every business because there is simply no way to ensure positively and absolutely that your business will never be sued. That’s also why business owners in Florida need to have an experienced central Florida business attorney on your team and at your side. Keeping your business out of expensive and injurious legal battles is a good business lawyer’s highest priority.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD FLORIDA BUSINESS OWNERS CONSIDER?
Another insurance product that you may want to consider is called “key person” insurance, which is life insurance for the important people in a small or mid-sized business. Here’s how key person insurance works: A company purchases life insurance policies for its key employees, pays the premiums, and is the named as the beneficiary. If a key person unexpectedly passes away, the business acquires the insurance payout.
Most recently, social media insurance and cyber insurance have been created to cover data breaches, cyber-attacks, and damage to your company’s online reputation. While it’s a good product to have, if someone steals or destroys your online intellectual property, it’s probably a criminal matter, and a good Central Florida business attorney can offer you the legal advice you’ll need in that circumstance.
Ask your attorney to review your contracts and to examine any proposed new contracts. Your business lawyer can also review your records, policies, procedures, practices, and employee handbook to ensure that you’re in full compliance with the abundance of local, state, and federal laws, rules, and regulations that govern businesses in Florida.
Nobody likes to think about risk, but business owners must. Full compliance with zoning, licensing, employment, environmental, and advertising laws are imperative; a good business attorney can help you achieve compliance and maintain it.
In conclusion, here are some additional suggestions for protecting your business:
When you don’t trust someone in a deal, walk away, even if you don’t have a precise reason for your distrust. Adhere to the old, basic advice, and go with your gut instinct.
You can’t count on verbal agreements. Insist that every agreement is put in writing.
If you can’t meet your contractual obligations for any reason, negotiate a termination or an amendment to the contract that will not send the other side running for their lawyers.
Every Florida business owner should work with an experienced business lawyer you know, like, and trust.