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Virtually every small-business owner faces risks that business insurance can help mitigate, but not all business insurance companies are the same. Here are the steps to take to compare business insurance companies and what to think about as you shop.
1. Find out what coverage each business insurance company offers
Not every business insurer sells every type of insurance. This will narrow your options once you’ve determined the types of business insurance you need. But you may also be limited by the following:
Not every insurer sells insurance in every state, and insurers may sell certain types of policies in certain states only. For example, Hiscox doesn’t provide coverage in Alaska, and business owner's policies are unavailable in several states.
Make sure each insurer’s policy provides enough coverage. If you need extra insurance for specific assets or situations — for example, data breaches or liquor liability — you can eliminate companies that don’t offer those options.
If you need several different policies, you may need to buy them from different providers.
Get more information about some of the major business insurance providers here:
Business owners who want to buy through an agent or have had trouble finding coverage elsewhere.
Business owners with a military affiliation.
Business owners with complex insurance needs.
Business owners who want support and resources across the country.
Business owners who want comprehensive coverage specialized for their industry.
Bundling business insurance with auto insurance.
Customized coverage by industry.
2. Compare business insurance quotes
Getting quotes from several different commercial insurance companies can help you find the best coverage at the best price. Here are some things to consider when looking at insurers’ quotes.
You can shop for quotes online or by phone, or you can work with an insurance agent or broker to find the cheapest business insurance for you. Whichever route you choose, make sure to compare policies with similar coverage and deductibles.
To get a quote, you will have to provide some basic information about your business, including its name, number of employees and ZIP code. Some insurance providers can generate a quote online, but others may require you to talk to a human in order to get a quote.
Rates vary dramatically because no two businesses are the same and each insurer uses its own formula to calculate premiums and discounts.
Be aware that a business insurance quote is an estimate only. The price may change if an insurance company checks out your business and determines you need a different amount of coverage.
3. Research business insurance discounts
Some companies offer discounts for buying multiple policies. For example, Next gives you a 10% discount when you bundle more than one kind of coverage.
You may see differences in the number and type of discounts available. Comparing the discounts your business is eligible to receive will ensure that you not only get the policy you want but also benefit from investments you’ve made to make your business safer in the eyes of the insurer.
4. Check customer satisfaction and complaints
Studies on business insurance and property claims satisfaction from J.D. Power, which surveys thousands of small commercial insurance customers annually, may help you feel more confident that you’ll have a good experience.
The NAIC website is another source of information about how insurance companies perform. You can find out how many complaints people filed with state regulators against an insurer, the reasons for the complaints and whether there are more complaints than expected for a company its size.
5. Consider financial strength
Buy business insurance from stable companies with enough money to pay claims. Financial strength is one way to evaluate whether an insurer meets that standard. You can check financial strength through a rating firm such as A.M. Best.
NerdWallet typically recommends considering insurers with ratings of A- or higher.
A company rated B+ or higher has a "good" ability to meet its obligations, in A.M. Best’s opinion. Companies rated below that may be riskier and get more complaints.
6. Talk to a professional
A licensed commercial insurance broker or agent can help you evaluate your risks and compare what various business insurance companies offer.
Brokers and agents earn money from commissions. In general, brokers offer products from a wider range of business insurance companies than agents do but may charge extra fees. Many states require agents and brokers to disclose their fees and commissions upfront.