If you own a small business in the Lone Star State, this information will help you understand Texas Commercial Liability insurance and protect your business and your personal assets from legal claims and settlements that can spell financial ruin. Whether you live in Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso or Lubbock, having sufficient general liability insurance is an important part of any small business plan.
A small business is defined as any company with fewer than 500 employees. Of Texas’s 2.2 million small businesses in 2006 (the latest data available), 386,422 were small employers, accounting for 98.7% of all employers in the state and 46.8% of its private-sector employment. Another 1,819,963 were one-person operations with no employees.
Source: SBA Texas Small Business Profile 2006.
About Commercial Liability Insurance for TX Businesses
Commercial liability insurance (also called business liability insurance and commercial general liability insurance) protects your Texas 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.
Texas Minimum Business Insurance Requirements
Commercial Liability Insurance is not mandatory for businesses operating in Texas. It is a business-friendly state and has been in a leader in lawsuit reform to discourage frivolous claims. However, accidents and lawsuits still happen in Texas. If you own property or other valuable assets you would be wise to invest in sufficient commercial general liability coverage for your business to limit your risk exposure.
How Much Texas Liability Insurance Should You Carry?
Each situation is unique, but as a general guideline, the type of Texas business you operate or products you manufacture should determine how much Texas 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 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?
Texas 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 Texas Small Business
Texas 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.
Workers Compensation Insurance
Short-Term Disability Insurance
BOP – Business Owner’s Package
E&O – Errors & Omissions
EPLI – Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Commercial Property Insurance
Regulating Agency and References
Texas Department of Insurance
This agency is responsible for regulating all insurance policies sold in the state, including commercial liability coverage.
Texas Department of Insurance
Austin, TX 78701
Texas 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 Texas district offices in Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Harlingen, Houston, Lubbock and San Antonio. Get links to district offices 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