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I am just getting my business started. Do I need insurance right away?
Yes, because the chance that you could suffer a loss begins with the first day of business. You can't get help after the fact. If you suffer a loss and have no insurance or have improper or insufficient coverage, there is very little, if anything, your insurance agent can do to help you. You must be prepared for the risks that are inherent in any business and the losses, sometimes catastrophic, that they can cause.

I don't have any major business assets. Why do I need insurance?
Every business has some property. And, when you think about it, your business is your property. Just like your home and your car, your business needs to be protected from loss, damage and liability. In addition, your business is your source of income, so you need protection from the potential loss of that income.

Generally, there are two types of insurance - property and liability. Property insurance covers damage to or loss of the policyholder's property. And if somebody sued for damages caused by you or your possessions (other than a vehicle covered by your insurance policy), the cost of the suit - both defending it and settling it if necessary - would be covered by your liability insurance.

What types of property insurance should I consider buying?
The best thing to do is to take a complete inventory of all your business property, determine their value and decide if each is worth insuring. Then check to see that the items on the inventory list are included in the basic business property policy and covered for the correct amount. If not, ask your agent about the cost of purchasing additional coverage to meet your needs.

You also need to consider your business situation. Are you planning a major expansion? Does your inventory have a decidedly peak season (like a toy store in December)? Or does it fluctuate throughout the year (like a clothing store)? Is your liability limit high enough in light of the new job contract you just signed? Business policies are designed to be added to or subtracted from to meet your needs. Be sure to discuss changes to your business with your agent so that he or she can be sure your policy still provides adequate coverage.

Who keeps an eye on the insurance companies?
Insurance is a heavily regulated industry. Every state has some sort of department, administration or agency that regulates and monitors every insurer operating within the state's borders. In addition to approving rates, your state's insurance department is involved in all insurance matters on behalf of private citizens and businesses. It also issues operating licenses to insurers and agents, based on their ability to meet the state's requirements for conduct and knowledge about insurance issues.

Your insurance company and agent work closely with your insurance department to make sure you are getting the best and fairest possible service within the state's guidelines. If you ever have difficulty settling a claim, work with your agent to resolve the difficulty. However, you can also contact your state's insurance department if you wish to know more about your options and rights as an insurance consumer.

What should I look for in an agent?
Agents are there to help you. At the most basic level, any agent should be able to answer all of your questions about insurance, provide you a thorough assessment of your insurance needs, and offer you a choice of insurance products to meet those needs. Also, any insurance agency should provide you with prompt, quality service in the case of a claim.

Just as important is the level of professional confidence and personal comfort you feel with the agent. Many people stick with the same insurance agent for decades, even generations. It helps to find an agent you can get to know and trust.

An important, but sometimes overlooked, factor to keep in mind is that there are two kinds of insurance agents: those who represent only one insurance company and those who represent more than one insurance company.

Agents offering through their agencies only the policies of one insurance company often are referred to as "captive agents," because the company they represent does not allow them to offer their customers competitive alternatives.

By contrast, agents offering through their agencies the policies of more than one insurance company are called "independent agents," because they can shop around for their customers for the best insurance values among a variety of competing companies.

A nationwide survey in 1994 showed that Americans prefer to work with independent insurance agents by a 2-to-1 margin over captive agents. You can be sure you are dealing with an independent agent when you see this symbol on the agent's signs, letterhead and business cards.

Start saving now, get your free low start your own business insurance quote today!

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