West Virginia Commercial Liability Insurance Guide
If you own a small business in the West Virginia , this information will help you understand West Virginia 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 Charleston, Wheeling, Parkersburg, Huntington or anywhere else in the Mountain State, having sufficient commercial liability coverage is an important part of any small business plan in West Virginia.
Fast Facts About West Virginia Small Business
A small business is defined as any company with fewer than 500 employees. Small business is vital to West Virginia’s economic well-being, accounting for more than 96% of all state employers. Of West Virginia’s 230,424 small businesses in 2008 (the latest data available), 39,697 were small employers, accounting for 53% of the state’s private-sector jobs. Another 90,727 were sole proprietorships with no employees.
Source: SBA West Virginia Small Business Profile 2011.
About Commercial Liability Insurance for WV Businesses
Commercial liability insurance (also called business liability insurance and commercial general liability insurance) protects your West Virginia 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.
West Virginia Minimum Business Insurance Requirements
Commercial Liability Insurance is not mandatory for businesses operating in West Virginia. West Virginia is a modified comparative fault state. A plaintiff can only recover damages if he or she is no more than 50% at fault. There is a $250,000 cap on non-economic personal injury damages. The statute of limitations for any personal injury or product liability claim is 2 years. Accidents and lawsuits (legitimate and frivolous) do happen in West Virginia. If you own property or other valuable assets you would be wise to invest in sufficient commercial general liability coverage for your West Virginia small businesses.
How Much West Virginia Commercial Liability Insurance Should You Carry?
Each situation is unique, but as a general guideline, the type of West Virginia business you operate or products you manufacture should determine how much West Virginia 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
West Virginia 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 West Virginia Small Business
West Virginia requires that anyone who employs 1 or more persons, whether full or part time, carry workers compensation insurance. Sole proprietors with no employees are not required to carry workers compensation. Other exemptions may apply. Contact the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner for details of exemptions and compliance. www.wvinsurance.gov
West Virginia 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.
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 offices in Clarksburg and Charleston. Get the link to the West Virginia SBA at http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-list/2.
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 http://www.naic.org/cis.
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 http://www.iii.org.