Obtaining Business Insurance

Think of business insurance as the copper solder that fuses a plumbing joint together; if the joint leaks, there can be major ramifications. The same holds true with business insurance; if you don’t have the coverage that a backflow prevention contractor business really needs – you’ll watch those profits flow right down the drain. You personally cannot control or eliminate every potential risk that threatens your livelihood, but business insurance can provide the added protection against these risks … if you carry the right kinds.

Choosing the right policy with all of the appropriate coverages can be a challenge when you are a backflow contractor/technician. Bob Smart, commercial lines director of Compass Insurance in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, states: “Everybody wants to lump each backflow contractor/tester/tech into the plumbing category, when in fact they are not all plumbers; that was my point of contention with the insurance carriers. I explained to Hartford [insurance carrier] that the backflow techs test the backflow apparatus – then they make a report on the valve they tested or they repair or replace the valve. They are not going in and tearing out water lines or sewer lines.

“What Hartford did…was to cover these backflow techs under an engineering class because it’s obviously more about reports and paperwork,” he continues. “I had over 30 backflow techs insured through Hartford under this engineering class and never had one claim.” Hartford has since modified this particular class of coverage with regards to backflow techs and currently does not cover backflow techs that work on fire lines, i.e., sprinkler systems, suppression systems; supplementary coverage is required or a different class should be selected.

Find an agent who understands your business.

A key component in selecting insurance coverage for a backflow contractor/technician/tester is to make sure that your agent fully understands what it is that you do and don’t do in the course of your work day. “If one agent wants to place you in the plumber class – which can cost upwards of five times the annual premium of let’s say an engineer class – find an agent who is willing to listen and really understand your business, “ says Smart. “If all you do is test backflow apparatus, then you shouldn’t be placed in a plumber class.”

Regrettably, insuring your business is not as simple as insuring your car. Because this business is unique, you’ll need to draft a package of insurance that meets your business needs and provides the level of protection you’re comfortable with.

Your first decision is to decide which types of insurance your business needs. Two types that all businesses need are property and liability insurance.

Property and Casualty Coverage

Property insurance protects the assets your business owns, including the building and equipment, from destruction or damage. Even if you run your business out of your home, you’ll need to protect your business assets with separate property insurance; your homeowner’s policy will not cover business equipment. There are two general types of property and casualty coverage: All Risk Coverage and Named Perils Coverage. As the names imply, “All Risk” will cover you for almost any type of loss whereas “named peril” coverage will only cover you for specific named causes of loss, such as fire. You need all perils coverage. Even with so called all peril coverage there will be exclusions. Make sure and review the exclusions in the policy. If there are exclusions in the policy that are important to you, you may want to try another insurance company or purchase specific coverage for the excluded situations.

Property insurance is also written as either replacement cost or actual cash value. The first will cover the actual cost necessary to replace the lost property (less the deductible). The actual cash value policy will only pay you the depreciated value of the property — almost never enough to replace what you have lost. Unless the cost is prohibitive, you should purchase replacement cost coverage. Even with replacement cost coverage you will need to make sure you have purchased a high enough limit. If your building and contents are worth .5 million and you only have million in insurance, a total loss would still leave you 0 thousand in the hole.

To determine how much property insurance you’ll need, create an itemized list of your business’ assets and their individual dollar values. Then decide which assets you actually want to insure and for what value, which will determine the insurance premium. In some cases, you may decide against insuring a particular asset, because it just doesn’t warrant the cost of the premium. In other cases, the premium may be well worth paying.

General Liability

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