A Business Owner’s Policy (also known as a BOP policy) is a package policy, providing both property and liability coverage geared toward small to mid-size businesses. They are worthwhile because, unlike separate property and liability policies, they are bundled to contain extra coverage at a low price. Many companies now offer specialized BOP policies for home based businesses or specific classes of business, like retail stores and small restaurants. These policies offer more comprehensive coverage to business owners who may not be able to afford purchasing coverage a la carte.
The property section of a typical BOP policy will include but is not limited to office equipment, furniture, leased or rented equipment, and property belonging to someone else damaged while in your care. This also includes additions to your building and premises that you rent. When deciding on your limit of property insurance, don’t forget to include the cost of your build-out and improvements, equipment used to maintain the building, and permanently attached fixtures. Always consult your lease agreement, if applicable, so you can include any items you are responsible for and confirm that these items are covered.
Liability coverage under the BOP policy covers Bodily Injury and Property Damage claims that you are liable for. A claim can be filed against you for medical bills and expenses resulting from injury, sickness or death caused when you act negligently. If not covered correctly, these situations can drain your financial resources and can result in thousands of dollars out of your pocket.
The most common example is a slip-and-fall accident. These can result from something as simple as spilled liquids, uneven flooring, or narrow stairs. These accidents account for around 17,000 deaths in the United States each year. They are among the most frequently filed claims against small businesses, making it important to carry liability coverage in the event of such unfortunate accidents.
What’s Not Covered by BOP
Several key coverages are not included in the basic policy but may be added to the policy by endorsement. A few of these coverages are Automobile, Disability, Health, Worker’s Compensation and Professional Liability. Each business has different needs, meaning not all of these coverages may apply to you. When buying a BOP policy, carefully review what coverages are included and what are not.
Worker’s Compensation is required by most states for businesses with more than one employee and you may need to purchase a separate policy for this coverage. Talk to your insurance representative about the Worker’s Compensation laws in your state.
Running a Business is Inherently Risky
Buying the right Business Owner’s Policy is a first step in protecting you from the risks inherent to running a business. Carrying this policy may also be a requirement of your rental agreement or leased equipment agreements. By not carrying the right BOP policy, you may be vulnerable to lawsuits or uncovered damages. It is a low cost alternative to out-of-pocket expenses and is packed with coverages which may otherwise be costly.
Ryan Niles is an insurance advisor for NewFirst Insurors, specializing in the development and implementation of risk management strategies for small- to mid-sized businesses in the Texas Coastal region.