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Buying business insurance? How to find only what you need

6/23/2011, 9:44 a.m.
Buying business insurance? How to find only what you need

(ARA) - You're confident about how to get the best deal on office supplies, and you may even know how to purchase a new computer system for your small business. But if you're not sure how to go about buying business insurance, you're not alone.

When you're running a small business, you're barraged on all sides with information and sales pitches, including some from the insurance industry. It can be difficult to know how to find the right business insurance for your company. Business.gov, the federal government's official website for small business owners, offers five steps:

* Assess your level of risk. Insurance companies consider factors such as the location of your business, type of building it occupies, the type of business you're in, and your business' accessibility to fire protection. All these factors, and others, will determine how much coverage you qualify for and what your premiums will be. You should also assess your own financial risk before agreeing to a high deductible that could lower your monthly premium, but leave you exposed to major financial hardship if you need to file a claim.

* Comparison shop. Coverage varies from insurer to insurer. Just as you would shop around for the best deal on office supplies, you'll need to comparison shop for competitive business insurance quotes. You could spend hours on the phone or online collecting information on your own, or you could use a tool like American Express' InsuranceEdge, provided by Bolt(sm), which provides trustworthy options and advice with minimal footwork.

* Consider bundling coverages under a single business owner's policy. If you buy separate polices from different insurers for all the types of coverage you need - such as product liability and business property - you could end up paying higher premiums. A business owner's policy can provide lower premiums by combining typical coverages into one package. Usually, a business owner's policy will include property, general liability, auto, business interruption and other types of common coverages. However, if your business has unique risks, you might need additional coverage.

* Work with a licensed agent. Just as a Realtor can facilitate your search for a place to operate your business, a licensed insurance agent can help streamline the insurance buying process. When you use InsuranceEdge by Bolt(sm), you'll be able to work with a licensed Bolt agent who can help you find a policy that meets your needs. Designed specifically for small-business owners, InsuranceEdge, provided by Bolt(sm), allows you to get real-time business insurance quotes and purchase customized coverage, all in one place. You'll also be able to review side-by-side quotes customized for your business by leading insurers.

* Review your business insurance every year. As your business grows and changes so will your liabilities and risks. If your insurance doesn't grow with your business, you may find yourself underinsured if you ever need to file a claim. Buying or replacing equipment, expanding your operations, hiring new employees, introducing new products or services can all affect how much insurance you need.