If you own a small business in the New Hampshire , this information will help you understand New Hampshire Commercial Liability insurance and protect your business and your personal assets from legal claims and settlements that can spell financial ruin. Whether you work in Manchester, Bedford, Dover, Nashua, Portsmouth, Rochester or anywhere else in the Silver State having sufficient commercial liability coverage is an important part of any small business plan in New Hampshire.
Fast Facts About New Hampshire Small Business
A small business is defined as any company with fewer than 500 employees. Small business is vital to New Hampshire’s economic well-being, accounting for over 96% of all state employers. Of New Hampshire’s 135,716 small businesses in 2008 (the latest data available), 31,146 were small employers, accounting for 54% of the state’s private-sector jobs. Another 104,570 were sole proprietorships with no employees.
Source: SBA New Hampshire Small Business Profile 2011.
About Commercial Liability Insurance for NH Businesses
Commercial liability insurance (also called business liability insurance and commercial general liability insurance) protects your New Hampshire 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.
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.
Property Damage – damage done to another person’s property by you or an employee in the course of conducting your business.
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.
New Hampshire Minimum Business Insurance Requirements
Commercial Liability Insurance is not mandatory for businesses operating in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a modified comparative negligence fault state. A plaintiff can only recover for a personal injury accident if he or she is no more than 50% at fault. The cap for non-economic damages in a personal injury case in New Hampshire is $875,000 per occurrence. The statute of limitations for general personal injury is 3 years. The product liability statute of limitations is 3 years, up to a maximum of 12 from the date of discovery. Accidents and lawsuits (legitimate and frivolous) do happen in New Hampshire. If you own property or other valuable assets you would be wise to invest in sufficient commercial general liability coverage for your New Hampshire small businesses.
How Much New Hampshire Commercial Liability Insurance Should You Carry?
Each situation is unique, but as a general guideline, the type of New Hampshire business you operate or products you manufacture should determine how much New Hampshire 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
New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire Small Business
New Hampshire requires that anyone who employs one or more persons, whether full or part time, carry workers compensation insurance. Sole proprietors with no employees are not required to carry workers compensation. Companies with 3 or fewer executive officers or LLC members and no other employees are generally exempt. Other exemptions may apply. Contact the Workers’ Compensation Division of the New Hampshire Department of Labor for details of exemptions and compliance. www.nh.gov
While New Hampshire is the only state that does not require that all drivers carry minimum automobile insurance, it does require that you be able to show financial responsibility if you are at fault in an auto accident, and you can be held liable. If you use your car or truck for business, it is recommended that you purchase a commercial vehicle policy.
New Hampshire 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 maintains a District Office in Concord. Get the link to the New Hampshire SBA at 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 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.