Though some might argue that America runs on Dunkin Donuts, this country actually runs on small businesses. Companies with fewer than 100 employees account for 99.7% of all business in this country and have consistently played a major role in this country’s overall economic growth. Many of us have taken action over the past year and since the recession to shore up our own stability, but maybe it’s time to look at securing the health of these companies and their owners.
As of 2014, there were 28.8 million small businesses with 56.8 million employees, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). These business owners are responsible for hiring new employees, providing stable incomes for existing employees, supporting healthcare and other benefits costs, and developing broader industries through their tireless work and growth. In the first three quarters of 2014 alone, they added 1.4 million new jobs. Nearly 40% of these businesses had fewer than 50 people.
We’ve heard so much this past year about what the costs of the current economy are on the average worker in the U.S. While politicians spend the early part of this year overhauling bills and restructuring healthcare acts, we should be looking at how we can protect these businesses that so much of our economy and jobs rely upon today.
Have you developed your own small business? It’s so challenging to even start thinking about getting off the ground, let alone start buying and implementing all the necessary resources. Many are easily searchable and affordable, like budget calculators, business plan and investor deck templates, website hosting servers, and email hosts. Once those initial steps are taken though, these small business owners need the financial and insurance mechanisms to make sure their investments and growing teams are not in jeopardy of falling apart into the future.
The average annual revenue of a small business of up to 100 people is $3.6 million. For so many smaller businesses, the average revenue is often much smaller – typically under $100,000 annually – and relies heavily on debt early on. These are the companies we are the most focused on at Next Insurance. We want to help them grow, while keeping their resources protected with the most tailormade and affordable insurance. Across markets – like personal training, photography, construction – these small business owners put significant resources into their training, accreditation, and various startup costs. And often pay several thousands of dollars in insurance alone.
Insurance for a small business is a necessity. But it’s often not customized to the owner’s – or markets – specific needs. Furthermore, it’s not often the very best option available or the most affordable, because it hasn’t been sorted against an endless amount of competitors. It just hasn’t been feasible for agents to stay current across infinite small business offerings and their needs. And there hasn’t been an option to search, buy and manage policies online. Everything else we’re doing as consumers and small business owners can be done online. Why not managing our insurance policies?
So, at Next Insurance, that’s exactly what we’re creating. An online insurance agency customizing insurance policies market-by-market, so small business owners can sign up for exactly what they need and at rates that can be fine-tuned for those specified uses. We’ve started by offering insurance policies for personal trainers and photographers initially – and are building to grow rapidly into other markets. We’re working with partners to develop tailor-made insurance policies as we learn a market in-depth and are able to identify the most comprehensive and cost-effective ways to truly cover different types of small businesses. This is, after all, the kind of attention we believe small businesses should receive given their contribution to our American economy. We’ve wanted it when starting our own businesses in the past. Why should we all get this level of service?
We’re currently underwritten by two powerhouses in insurance – Munich Re and Markel Corporation – to ensure the stability of the streamlined policies we’re offering. And today, we’re seeing double digit growth in term of the policies small business owners are signing up for online through Next Insurance in just a couple minutes.
To ensure the continuing growth and sustainability of our small businesses, there must be tools and resources that truly serve them. We’re committed to contributing through our insurance offering.
Your business’s risk and your liability as an owner are difficult to assess and even more difficult to prepare for. At Next Insurance, we realize that insurance feels intangible, as if you’re paying for something for which you may never see the benefit. This can especially be the case for General Liability policies. Getting insurance for your brand new iPhone may seem like a more worthy investment, knowing that you could very feasibly drop your phone and be on the hook for a $250 repair cost without insurance. When it comes to insuring your business, the value for your money may be a little less clear. Imagining your business on the receiving end of a hefty lawsuit feels much more far fetched than that iPhone hitting the pavement; however, the impact of a high-cost lawsuit would also be much more detrimental to your business than the cost of a new phone screen.
So what is General Liability? In insurance terms, General Liability (GL) policies provide businesses with coverage for damage caused to others as a result of their business operations. These potential damages can be described as bodily injury, property damage, finished products by the policyholder, and/or personal injury such as slander or defamation. So what does General Liability insurance mean for you and your business? In short, GL policies offer coverage for the catastrophic scenarios that we don’t like to think about. These are the cases that no one can anticipate, such as a photographer’s light stand falling over and severely injuring someone. The world we live can be unpredictable, and General Liability is what protects your business against unexpected and disastrous accidents.
Why is the likelihood of an incident / lawsuit not the only thing to consider?
When thinking about why a business owner might need GL coverage, it is important to consider two terms: frequency and severity. Frequency is how often an event happens, or how likely it is to happen. Severity refers to the level of impact of an event if it were to happen. We unconsciously make decisions based on our understanding of frequency and severity every day. For example, on a spring morning we have the choice to grab an umbrella before heading outside. Rain is a likely event in the spring, thus it has high frequency. Getting wet without an umbrella is by no means a disaster, meaning the severity of a rain shower is low. Your decision to bring an umbrella or not rests solely on your own comfort level with the risk of being caught in a spring storm.
In contrast, the choice not to buckle up while in a moving vehicle comes with a greater risk. Car accidents are lower frequency than spring rain showers, but they can be very high severity events. Most of us know that a seatbelt is important protection, and choosing to buckle up could prevent severe injury or even death if an accident were to occur.
As a business owner, you know that General Liability claims are low frequency. You may hold a general liability policy for many years without needing to file a claim, leading you to wonder about the value of continuing your coverage. Roughly one out of every 1600 policyholders files a claim over the course of a year. However, the severity of these claims is very high — they cost over $150,000 on average! While it can be difficult to justify investing money into protecting yourself from an event that may never happen, the price tag on a future claim far outweighs your monthly premium.
So do I really need General Liability?
Most of the businesses we work with purchase General Liability policies for two reasons – both are valid and very important.
The first is wanting to be in control, rather than be vulnerable. While purchasing a general liability insurance policy may seem like an unnecessary expense each month, these business owners don’t want to leave the livelihood of their business to chance – they know they may one day need to utilize the substantial funds a policy provides in the event of a claim.
The second is wanting to position their business for growth. Many of our customers find that business partners (venues a photographer is looking to do shoots at, gyms a personal trainer is looking to train in, projects an artisan contractor is looking to be part of) require Proof of Insurance as a condition for hiring them. Having General Liability protection in place therefore becomes a tool in your “growth” toolbox – one that can help business growth and signal your level of professionalism and accountability.
We passionately believe a General Liability policy is something a serious, ambitious business owner should not live without – it is one of the first types of insurance we recommend our customers invest in. It’s about control, protection, and arming yourself with tools needed for your business to thrive.
Buying insurance might feel like stepping into the weight room for the first time – confusing at best, maybe intimidating or even overwhelming. As a trainer, you know that with just a few basic pointers, a newbie can walk into the weight room with the confidence to tackle the challenge!
Here at Next Insurance, we feel the same way about helping personal trainers make great choices when it comes to purchasing insurance, be it for the first time or when switching to better coverage. Below are a few tips that will help you select the right insurance product – so your business is fully protected, without breaking the bank.
- Know your risks and make a checklist
You know your business best, making you the most qualified to know where you’re at risk. Sit down and write out a list of all the possible things that could go wrong, even if they seem a little far-fetched. Try and wear the customer’s shoes and question your practices from their perspective. Where are your vulnerabilities? Walk yourself through your day-to-day and be detailed in your analysis.
There are a lot of different types of insurance available. For Personal Trainers, General and Professional liability are the two most important.
- General liability covers any injury to others or property damage for which you are found liable (legally responsible), resulting in a potential lawsuit. Example: a client tears their ACL while training with you and files a lawsuit. This type of risk can reach millions of dollars in damages – and truly threatens the livelihood of your business. We strongly recommend prioritizing this coverage above all others.
- Professional liability covers you when clients find your services unsatisfactory, and decide to file a lawsuit for these reasons. Example: a client fails to meet their business goals and sues you for not providing more effective training.
The other main categories of business insurance relevant to personal trainers are property and premises coverage. “Property,” in this context, meaning physical goods such as equipment, and “premises” being the space you rent or own to operate your business.
Think about which of these you could be exposed to, figure out whether your employers (e.g., your gym) require specific coverage/limits, and make a list of what you need – in order of priority. Remember, it’s most important to protect yourself against risks that could be big enough to take you out of business.
- Insurance is not one-size-fits-all
You’ve built your checklist – now it’s time to start shopping around for the best fitting insurance package. How do you pick from the dozens of options out there? Keep in mind that more coverage isn’t always better – the key is to work with a provider who knows your industry and helps you get coverage for risks that could truly threaten the livelihood of your business. We suggest you focus on
- Finding a provider/advisor who understands your business. There are enough options out there in the insurance world that you can find a specialist. Would you go to an optometrist with questions about your cough? They’re both doctors, but one will be able to assess your needs much better than the other. The world of personal training comes with occupational hazards that others don’t have to contend with – potential for injury, physical contact with clients, etc. Make sure you’re buying from a source that’s done as much research into your industry as you have.
- Not buying unnecessary coverage. Make sure that you’re not paying for coverage that isn’t relevant to you. For instance, many business owner packages include premises coverage, which you may not need as a traveling or online trainer. Each coverage is going to increase the price of your insurance, so think as hard about what you don’t need as what you do.
- Exclusions can make or break you
We are all guilty of not reading our insurance policies – after all, these documents can be over 100 pages long! The truth is, however, that the exclusion clauses hidden in these documents can mean that activities that are core to your business are not covered. Some common exclusions you might encounter include
- Professional liability – as you probably already know if you followed the advice in tip #1 and listed our your risks, Professional liability coverage is key for a Personal Trainer to have. We strongly recommend against buying an insurance package that does not include this coverage
- Constraints on locations that are covered. Think about where you train (Is it always at a gym – or could it be at a park? Do you occasionally train outside of your city/state?) – and check whether the policy covers you there. It’s also common for Personal Trainer policies to exclude from-home training activity. If your client insures herself doing deadlifts while at your home, you may have to pay out of pocket for medical treatment or to protect yourself against a lawsuit
- Nutrition / dietary supplement coverage – again, this type of activity is often excluded. If you provide dietary advice to clients, look for a policy that includes this coverage, even if it costs a bit extra
- Think about safeguards that can help you qualify for the best coverage – at a lower price
When filling out an application, you may be asked questions related to obtaining certification in your area of expertise, willingness to ask clients for liability waivers / health history forms, and other business practices that lower the probability of something going wrong and you being accountable. You’ll sometimes be given a credit or discount for these. While these may seem tedious, and you may be hesitant to make the investment, you should consider both the reduction in risk to your business and the reduction in insurance expense – these may add up to significant value.
- Your insurance experience does not end with the purchase.
Buying insurance is not like buying a workout outfit. The instant gratification is unfortunately not there – but, more importantly, the post-purchase interactions with your insurance providers are a critical piece of the puzzle.
- Most of our customers come back to our website (usually, more than once) to obtain Proof of Insurance or an Additional Insured form – as required by the gyms they are training at. Find out what the process to obtain these forms is like (is it self-service or do you need to contact and speak to someone on staff during business hours, how quickly you can get the form, and whether there are fees involved (these can add up to hundreds of dollars, quickly cancelling out any savings you got when purchasing)
- The real moment of truth is the day something does happen and you need to file a claim. Hopefully, this is a scenario you never have to deal with, but if you do, who will you contact? How quickly will you hear back and from whom? Is your insurance provider willing to commit to a timeline for making a decision on a claim, particularly if the claim is under $10,000 in value?
The bottom line is that buying insurance is choosing the organic grilled chicken breast over the tempting (and lower-cost) fried chicken sandwich. It may be less gratifying in the moment, but it’s going to be a lot cheaper to make the investment now than to pay the medical bills, or major lawsuits, later.
We hope these 5 tips help start – or expand – your thought process on how to make the best choice of insurance coverage for your business, given your priorities and your budget. This article should also give you a sense of how passionate we are about offering the product that meets Personal Trainers’ specific needs, rather than assuming a Personal Training business is pretty much the same as a laundromat!
We are here to be a partner to you – whether you prefer to come to our website and purchase in under 10 minutes, or to contact our A-Team at (855)222-5919 to tell us about yourself and get further guidance.
Shopping, movies, activism, even dating – in today’s ultra-connected world, there’s very little you can’t find online. But even with today’s wealth of web-based resources, business insurance has been slow to catch up.
Auto insurance sales are booming on the web, with nearly 25% of purchases happening entirely over the internet, and 74% getting quotes or shopping around on the net before purchasing through a live agent. By comparison, only about 1-2% of commercial insurance is bought online. An overwhelming majority of business insurance is still handled by live agents in a process that is outdated, slow, and more importantly, confusing for the customer. What happens after you submit an application (which, by the way, involves filling out a paper application by hand, then faxing or even snail mailing it in)? How are premiums and deductibles determined?
It’s no surprise, then, that the industry has a reputation for being behind the times. While some insurance companies do have portals that may be able to provide an online quote, a business owner can rarely, if ever, purchase insurance without speaking to a human today. Why is this? There is a misconception that business insurance is too complex to be bought completely online; that underwriting is more involved and the needs of each business are entirely different and therefore need to be evaluated by a human.
We don’t believe this – and we think getting a business owner the coverage they need, at a great price, online and in mere minutes is very realistic – with the right technology and willingness to be transparent. So here at Next Insurance, we’re doing EVERYTHING online, from the application to the underwriting (the process that determines one’s eligibility for getting insured) to the purchasing and issuing of the policy! Of course, you’re wondering how we do it so fast, and at such a great price, right? Here’s a little secret: figuring out the right product for you, whether you are eligible and at what cost really comes down to a few key pieces of information. We knew we could collect enough data with the right few questions to get rid of that arduous pen-and-paper application and get you insured quickly – and more transparently, too.
This all sounds great in theory, and in practice it’s even better – it means that it takes our customers an average of only 8 minutes to make sure their business is protected! Customers automatically receive their policy documents mere minutes after payment or, if for whatever reason we can’t cover a prospect, they know immediately why they were declined or referred (flagged for human follow-up) and can help them through it. Proofs/Certificates of Insurance can be downloaded online in seconds, free – and should other special requests arise, our friendly A-team agents are standing by to help.
Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. Easy, convenient, transparent business insurance is what Next Insurance stands for!