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Do You Need Insurance?

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                  SoHo NEWS & TIPS
Helping You Make the Most of Your Small Office/Home Office


Below is an article regarding insurance, informational to 
small businesses without it. Would you survive being 
sued without insurance? No one is safe from legal liability, 
you must weigh the insurance costs versus the assets you 
could potentially lose, along with the reassurance of simply 
being insured. However, shop carefully!


P.S. You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the 
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- Sony, the Japanese electronics giant, said that it was 
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- Microsoft Steps Up Anti-Piracy by preparing 55 legal 
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What if You Get Sued? A Look at Insurance 
By Kelly Spors

It's not difficult to see why many self-employed individuals, 
from the independent consultant to the professional dog 
walker, find it unnecessary to buy liability coverage. 
Besides the high price, some business owners don't think 
they're vulnerable to lawsuit or fear that having a deep 
pocket of insurance might entice customers to sue.

But weigh those reservations against a much scarier 
alternative: What if you get sued without it? You risk losing 
your business, and possibly even personal assets depending on 
the firm's structure and how well it's maintained.

Liability insurance typically pays judgment money and legal 
fees if you're sued for anything related to your business 
activity -- ranging from someone injuring themselves on your 
property to a client feeling that you doled out damaging 
advice. Several types of insurance exist. Professional 
liability covers negligence, errors and omissions that arise 
out of service provided by your practice.

Of course, the policies come with exclusions you must read 
carefully, and coverage isn't cheap. Firms with annual 
revenues of $200 million or less paid an average $3.29 for 
every $1,000 in revenue for general liability insurance in 
2005, according to a survey by broker Marsh Inc., a unit of 
Marsh & McLennan. However, premiums vary widely depending on 
your business type and the lawsuit risks in your industry. A 
one-person business with low claims risk and no prior loss 
experience could pay about $5,000 annually for a $1 million 
primary liability policy that includes professional coverage, 
says George Pallis, Marsh's managing director.

Assuming you're immune from legal risk can be a dangerous 
game. Firms, large and small, are frequently sued for what 
sometimes may appear a frivolous or unjust claim. The average 
jury award to plaintiffs in injury and liability cases in 2004 
was $1.39 million, up from $602,000 in 1998, according to the 
Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.

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Sole proprietors, comprising about 70% of all U.S. businesses, 
especially need liability coverage because no separation 
exists between their personal assets and business assets. 
Their home, their car and their personal investment accounts 
are threatened by any lawsuit stemming from their business if 
they're not insured.

An incorporated business generally shields personal assets from 
the business's assets, meaning insurance may be less necessary. 
But there's still a small chance that a lawyer can pierce that 
protection by convincing a judge your business wasn't follow-
ing corporate procedures, says the insurance institute's chief 
economist, Robert Hartwig. And, even when incorporated, all 
your business assets are still up for grabs if someone sues 

Incorporated or not, there are other compelling arguments to 
get insurance. You alluded to one yourself. Many clients 
prefer, or demand, the consultants they hire carry insurance, 
says Elizabeth Gaudio, senior executive counsel for the 
National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business 
lobbying group. So you may sacrifice some income by forgoing 
coverage. A 2002 survey by the federation found that 67% of 
small firms purchased professional liability coverage.

All that said, a financially strapped business owner with few 
personal or business assets probably doesn't need insurance 
until there are assets to protect, says James Lange, a 
Pittsburgh tax attorney. "If he's 23 years old, has thousands 
of dollars in student loans and has this fledgling business," 
there's little to lose, Mr. Lange says. It comes down to 
weighing the insurance costs versus the assets you could 
potentially lose, along with the reassurance of simply being 

If you do decide to buy liability coverage, shop carefully. 
Some policies only cover current policyholders, while others 
will cover events that occurred while you were insured, even 
after you've ended coverage, Mr. Hartwig says.

From the Wall Street Journal Online


It is a good idea to get to know several loan officers at your 
branch, so that if your main contact leaves, you don't have to
start from scratch getting to know someone else. These days,
people don't stay at one job very long, so it's likely that by 
the time you're ready to apply for a loan, your original loan
officer will be working somewhere else. It is also a good idea
to get to your loan officer's boss. Positive strokes to a boss 
even works for bankers.

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a line and let 
me know at mailto:mandi@gophercentral.com 

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