A small business is defined as any company with fewer than 500 employees. Of Georgia’s 907,068 small businesses in 2008 (the latest data available), 175,574 were small employers, accounting for nearly 46% of the state’s private-sector jobs. Another 731,494 were one-person operations with no employees.
Source: SBA Georgia Small Business Profile 2010.
About Commercial Liability Insurance for GA Businesses
Commercial liability insurance (also called business liability insurance and commercial general liability insurance) protects your Georgia business from financial loss resulting from claims of injury or damage cause to others by you or your employees. A policy typically covers:
Bodily Injury – physical damage to a person other than an employee at your place of business and injuries caused by you or an employee at a client’s home or work place.
Property Damage – damage caused by you or an employee to someone else’s property.
Personal Injury – libel, slander, copyright infringement, invasion of property or privacy, wrongful eviction, false arrest and similar acts that cause damage to a person’s reputation or rights.
Advertising Injury – losses caused by your advertising
Legal Defense and Judgments – costs to defend against real and frivolous suits and judgments up to the limit of your coverage. Note this generally does not include punitive damages for negligence or willful misconduct.
Georgia Minimum Business Insurance Requirements
Commercial Liability Insurance is not mandatory for businesses operating in Georgia. Georgia is an entrepreneur-friendly state and was ranked fifth best U.S. business climate in a 2011 survey of CEOs. However, accidents and lawsuits (legitimate and frivolous) still happen and Georgia currently has no cap on the amount of compensatory damages that can be awarded. Punitive damages are capped at $250,000, unless the claimant can show that the defendant intended to cause harm. If you own property or other valuable assets you would be wise to invest in sufficient commercial general liability coverage for your Georgia business to limit your risk exposure.
How Much Georgia Liability Insurance Should You Carry?
Each situation is unique, but as a general guideline, the type of Georgia business you operate or products you manufacture should determine how much Georgia commercial general liability insurance you need. A good rule of thumb for most small businesses is between $500,000 and $1 million. However, if yours is a high-risk business such as the building trades or has a high volume of interaction with the public such as a restaurant or retail business, you should consider increasing your coverage. Note that if you operate out of your home, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance has limited coverage for business liability and loss.
How Are Premium Costs Assessed?
Georgia commercial liability insurance premiums are based on a number of factors including the types of service or products you provide, the number of people you employ, how long you’ve been in business, and your claims history. Coverage is typically capped at a specific dollar amount for your policy period.
Other Insurance to Consider for Your Georgia Small Business
Georgia requires that anyone who employs three or more persons, whether full or part time, carry workers compensation insurance. Sole proprietors with no employees are not required to carry workers compensation. In Georgia, as many as 5 officers in a corporation can waive coverage for themselves.
Georgia requires that all drivers carry minimum automobile insurance. If you use your car or truck for business, it is recommended that you purchase a commercial vehicle policy.
Employee Disability Insurance
BOP – Business Owner’s Package
E&O – Errors & Omissions
EPLI – Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Commercial Property Insurance
Regulating Agency and References
Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner
This agency is responsible for regulating all insurance policies sold in the state, including commercial liability coverage.
Consumer Services Division
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
West Tower, Suite 716
Atlanta, GA 30334
Georgia Small Business Administration
The SBA is an independent agency of the federal government created to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns and maintain a Georgia District Office in Atlanta. Get the link to the Georgia SBA at http://www.sba.gov/
National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
This is an organization of insurance regulators from the 50 states, District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories. NAIC provides a forum for the development of uniform policies when appropriate. It also offers an online form for filing complaints, reporting suspected insurance fraud and downloading key financial information about insurance carriers at www.naic.org
Insurance Information Institute (III)
This organization’s mission is to improve public understanding of insurance – what it is and how it works. Visit III at www.iii.org/