- Premiums for fire, casualty and burglary insurance on business property are all deductible for tax purposes as trade or business expenses. If a business taxpayer has a self-insurance plan, however, all payments into the self-insurance reserve will not be tax-deductible for purposes; the actual losses incurred by the taxpayer would be the deductions.
- Premiums for life-insurance are tax-deductible. But premiums paid on a policy covering the life of an officer, employee or other key person are not deductible if the business is a direct or indirect beneficiary under the policy. Premiums paid on a life insurance policy of which the business is a beneficiary are not deductible, since life-insurance proceeds would not have to be included in taxable income when received by the company.
- Before speaking with an insurance representative, write down a clear statement of your expectations.
- Do not withhold any important information from your insurance representative about your business and its exposure to loss. Treat the individual as a professional helper.
- Get at least three competitive bids using brokers, direct agents and independent agents. Note the interest that the representative takes in loss prevention and suggestions for specialty coverage.
- Avoid duplication and overlap in policies; you will be paying for insurance you do not need.
- Ask your insurance firm if it's an "admitted insurance company." If so, it should have a solvency fund should a catastrophe put the insurance company in danger of going under. An unadmitted carrier has no such solvency fund.
- The small businessperson should not consider any form of self-insurance. The pool of funds necessary to safely insure losses is extraordinarily large.
- Get your insurance coverage reassessed on an annual basis. As your firm grows, so do your needs and potential liabilities. Underinsurance ranks as a major problem with expanding firms. Get an independent appraiser to value your property; if it has been more than five years since it was last appraised, chance are you're in for a surprise.
- Keep complete records of your insurance policies, premiums paid, itemized losses and loss recoveries. This information will help you get better coverage at lower costs in the future.
- Virtually all policies require notification of an accident within 24, 48 or 72 hours of the incident. The claim itself does not necessarily have to filed at this time. Failure to report the loss may nullify your right to recovery.
- There must be come proof of loss, though you will have a reasonable period to provide documentation if needed.
- The insurer usually has three options when it comes to fulfilling the terms of a replacement policy: paying cash, repairing the insured item, or replacing the insured item with one of similar quality. Don't hesitate to let the insurer know if you prefer one of these reimbursement methods.
- Disputes regarding the amount of the settlement are put to arbitration. Thus an independent appraiser acts as judge in the conflict Don't hesitate to use this system of resolving differences. If a compromise cannot be found, a lawsuit can be initiated.
Excerpted from The Small Business Encyclopedia, Start Your Own Business and Entrepreneur magazine ("Needs to Know"). All information is intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an insurance agent.