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How to approach liability insurance?

I would love to start investigating liability insurance for my business and it strikes me that many of you have already explored the ins and outs of liability insurance. I want to better understand from other entrepreneurs how you started your search for insurance, particularly for those of you with service-oriented or coaching businesses tied to technology. What did you find to be the most important considerations and where did you look?

9 Replies

Varun Mehta
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Varun Mehta Entrepreneur
CEO of Disqovery
My startup Disqovery also has elements of coaching (it's an app that helps with career development) and a few months ago I picked up extremely basic liability insurance. I looked at both online and local brokers for quotes, and I was surprised by the number of them that said, "Sorry, our underwriters are not comfortable signing your risk portfolio." I'm not sure what risk they were concerned about, and they wouldn't be specific.

Others padded up the costs from $10/mo. to $40/mo. because they have a "minimum bill size" and would not budge on that.

Cost was pretty important to me, as for now getting insurance was motivated by the requirements of my coworking space. Ultimately Hiscox's website gave me the best quote by far and working with them over the phone was a real joy.

Would you mind being more specific with what kind of liability coverage your are looking for/need? It might help others in the FD community give you even better advice than I can.
Vijay Goel, MD
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Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)
Has anyone tried Techinsurance? Looks like a broker and the landing page language seems right...not sure if the underlying policies match well...seen a number of insurance companies move away from IT coverage (Allstate in particular excluded anything with the word technology from my standard GL policy with them). ------------------------- Vijay Goel, M.D. Principal, Goel Insights [removed to protect privacy] www.goelinsights.com Schedule time to talk: http://meetme.so/vijaygoel
Charlene Brown, MD, MPH
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CEO & Founder, ReciproCare, Halcyon Fellow
Thank you both for the feedback Varun and Vijay.

Varun--here are some more details. I expect to have health coaches who provide patients education and coaching around health issues (e.g. diet, exercise); some of these will be professionals like nurses or social workers. Others may be certified health coaches or trainers. Also, if I, as a physician, provide health coaching, even if it is at the same level of detail as a more typical health coach, does it automatically becomes the practice of medicine thereby requiring medical malpractice insurance?

I appreciate any additional insights. Thanks!


Corey Butler
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Corey Butler Advisor
Entrepreneur, Consultant, & Web/Data Engineer
Bottom Line: The narrower you define your focus, the easier it will be to cover your general liability needs.

Detailed Answer & Experience:

There is no set criteria to look for other than "will they cover me?". My initial criteria was speed. I had a huge client that required specific coverage (happened to be a healthcare products company) whose contract I would not win without the coverage. I bit the bullet on cost, and made up for it in revenue.

In my first consulting agency, I couldn't get signed up with Travelers Insurance because I had clients in the entertainment industry (we created a lot of band websites). This was one of their red-flag industries at the time that they simply didn't touch as a matter of policy. The Hartford took us in, but it cost more because they had a bunch of rather ridiculous requirements (terrorism insurance) that weren't relevant (kind of like making a man have maternity coverage)... but ultimately they covered our group.

In my second consultancy, I used Techinsurance as a broker. They have a good understanding and focus on tech firm needs. For me, they were the cheapest and fastest way to acquire general liability insurance. It's niche-specific though.

Healthcare providers are in a completely different ballpark, as is wellness and coaching. Personal trainers can get their own independent insurance through Idea Fitness, ACE, etc. It is, without a doubt, the cheapest way to go for the individual trainer.

Most general liability insurance is tailored to the specialization. I cannot speak for malpractice insurance... but it's definitely crossing into a grey area. Since your needs cover many different specializations, you may need to deal with a broker who explicitly specializes in health provider insurance.

Business structure is definitely something to consider if insurance is going to be a big cost. For example, hiring a personal trainer on a 1099 contract could transfer the "burden" of professional insurance onto the individual. Pay them enough to cover that and make sure they qualify as a contractor in your state(s). I'm not a lawyer, and every state is different... but I do know that approaching an insurance company with a narrower focus and alleviated burden will make it easier to acquire general liability insurance.
Sridhar Yerramreddy
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Sridhar Yerramreddy Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & CEO at Oculus Health
General liability insurance, is designed to provide comprehensive insurance coverage, such as premises and operations liability, protective liability, broad form property damage liability, and so forth, to protect the insured against liability arising out of bodily injury and property damage to third-parties caused by an occurrence.

Professional liability insurance, on the other hand, covers liability arising from the mistakes inherent in the practice of that particular profession or business (tele-health or health-coaching in the above scenario). Professional liability insurance is designed to protect against negligent acts, errors, or omission.

These are 2 distinct products generally speaking and an insurance agency possibly can bundle them for a discount.


Dirk de Kok
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Dirk de Kok Advisor
Founder and CTO Mobtest
Just ask a broker, my company has general liability insurance with The Hardford Group, as well as property insurance.

My broker washttp://www.ireneinsures.com/
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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Creative Director, Visual Storyteller, Video Editor, Post Supervisor, Documentarian
We run a media production business so we have to have liability both on our facility and for our crews when they are producing in the field. What I did was to meet with my independent insurance agent and we spent about 2 hours talking and going back and forth so he knew exactly what we would need to do.

Then he presented me with a proposal based on proper insurance needs for our industry. That's my best advice for you. Find a qualified independent insurance agent in your area and have a good discussion with them about your needs and let them give you a proposal. They know insurance, you know your business. Best to work together with them to make sure you have the proper information to get the right insurance so you're not left hanging if you ever have a situation that requires you to use your coverage.
Charlene Brown, MD, MPH
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CEO & Founder, ReciproCare, Halcyon Fellow
Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions and insights!

Michael R.
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Michael R. Entrepreneur
Senior Vice President, Analytics Executive at Bank of America

Our company is just starting out, but we automatically recommend what insurance you should consider based on your business attributes. We can't yet underwrite the policies (still working on that), but at least you'll know what coverage you need (and why).

https://www.gatherins.com

Just click "build your policy"

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