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Own Your Own Business?

ERIE can help protect your assets and keep your risks at bay

December 15, 2010
By Scott Westcott

When the going gets tough, the tough start small businesses.

That’s one positive that emerged from the recent recession. A growing number of Americans, often out of necessity, have set up shop. As of last December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked a 2.5 percent uptick in self-employed Americans from the previous year.

Maybe you’re one of the accidental entrepreneurs who are in the midst of starting a business or you already have an existing small business. Or, maybe you’re just thinking about starting something. Wherever you are in the process, it’s important to know how to insure your assets and minimize risk.

Your ERIE Agent can help you learn about and build an insurance package made up of a wide range of policy offerings. And, with ERIE, your insurance is backed by a local, risk management professional and service-focused claims adjusters.

“The first step we take is to sit down with a business owner to find out what his or her goals are. We ask, ‘Where is the business headed?’,” says ERIE Agent Rex Nichols of Nichols Insurance in Mooresville, Ind. “We find out what their potential exposures and risks are and customize coverage to meet their specific needs.”

Nichols says in the last two years he’s seen an increase in contractors with “a hammer and a truck” looking to start their business. But, he says, they are often unaware of the coverages needed to protect them financially. What would happen if a major problem or accident were to occur?  

There are several types of insurance that can help protect your business. After talking about basic business owners coverages, Nichols starts educating these entrepreneurs about the advantage of a business catastrophe liability policy (BCL). Also known as an umbrella, a BCL provides an extra layer of protection beyond standard business or auto policies. It can help you manage the impact of lawsuits against your business in the future.

Tom Simone, a Washington D.C.-based personal injury attorney who runs a small business — a law firm — says in addition to general liability, auto coverage on company-owned vehicles and workers’ compensation, small business owners should consider life insurance. “It’s vital for the continuity of the business,” he says.

He goes on to explain, “Individual owners can take a policy out on the other owners so if one of them dies the business has funds to help it carry on. In addition, the proceeds can be used to pay the deceased’s heirs, so as not to have any obligations by the small business itself.”

Want to know more? Contact your ERIE Agent.

Scott Westcott is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in Parents, Inc., and Woman’s Day. He resides in Erie, Pa.