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Whether you’ve spent years dreaming of this day or had a recent revelation — starting a business is a major decision. You know the risks but believe in the reward, so you set off to make it happen.
Before you can get your first customers and become the talk of the town, there are a few orders of business to attend to. These include choosing a name and business structure, plus registering with the state.
One step that can be particularly confusing or daunting is getting West Virginia business insurance. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of state websites looking for answers. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up the basics, so you don’t have to hunt them down.
First things first — what is business insurance? To put it simply, West Virginia business insurance is a way to potentially help pay for accidents big and small. In the same way that auto insurance could help in a fender-bender, you could be able to use business insurance to pay for damages or lawsuits.
Business insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all, but there are three main policies to consider that can help cover a wide range of scenarios.
As the name suggests, general liability insurance is useful for a broad array of scenarios and businesses. This type of policy typically covers:
Requirements for general liability insurance in West Virginia can vary, and some businesses with professional licensing rules may be required to show proof of insurance before they can operate legally.
The state recommends reviewing different policies, but most often, the decision to get covered is left to the business owner. The West Virginia One Stop Business Portal is a great place to begin your search for business licensing and insurance requirements. It’s also a good idea to check for business laws at the county and city levels.
If you're a contractor, you also may want to look into getting a West Virginia contractor's license.
Here’s how West Virginia small business owners like you could benefit from having a general liability insurance policy:
Having insurance helps you stand out among competitors. Since there aren’t many legal requirements for insurance, showing a Certificate of Insurance (COI) proves you’re willing to go above and beyond to protect your business and customers. This is useful when your new business is trying to compete with established companies or ensure that you aren’t associated with scammers.
Growing your business could be easier with proof of insurance. Did you know that some loan companies or landlords might want to see proof of insurance before working with you? Even if insurance isn’t required to get financing or rent office space, having coverage might help your application stand out as a more reliable choice.
Your personal or business expenses could be spared from costly lawsuits. If your business causes an accident and you’re uninsured, you’ll likely be liable for the total cost on your own. This could include medical bills from injured customers, replacing damaged property, and/or defending yourself in a lawsuit.
Using your savings could set back your business’s growth, and you might have to consider loans or bankruptcy if the costs are too high. However, your general liability insurance policy could help offset those costs up to your policy limit.
Keeping your business assets safe with insurance is likely the top reason that comes to mind. Anything you invest time and money into is worth protecting, especially when the average customer injury or damage claim reported is a whopping $30,000.
Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars set aside right now, getting general liability insurance in Virginia could help your business in its worst situations.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for a business accident to occur. It’s only human to make mistakes now and then, and a small slip-up plus an angry customer are the perfect storm for a potential lawsuit.
Let’s look at a few scenarios where a general liability insurance policy could likely help a business owner:
Since the homeowner thinks there should have been a “wet floor” sign, they’re suing the cleaner for the cost of their physical therapy sessions. Unfortunately, the new and uninsured business owner has to apply for a loan to cover the medical expenses since they spent most of their savings getting the business started.
With coverage, their general liability policy could typically help to cover those costs.
The client doesn’t care what happened — they just want the money to replace their beyond-repairs car. The contractor had saved up for another work truck to expand the business, but now they have to use that money to clean up the mess the defective concrete made. If they had insurance, their policy could cover the claim up to the policy limit.
Consequently, the homeowner wants the contractor to pay for the damage, repairs, and furniture replacement. Without insurance, the business owner has to appease the angry client, fix a potentially damaged reputation, and shell out a large amount of money.
If you're not sure whether you should get a general liability policy, take a moment to think about the possible hazards in your business. If your work had a small flaw, could it cause customer property damage? Is there a chance a client could be injured if they were around while you’re working?
You also can chat with one of our licensed insurance agents at 855-931-5393. They can explain potential hazards in your business and advise you on rules in West Virginia. Or you can answer a few questions online to receive custom insurance quotes for free.
While it’s easy to understand how construction sites can be dangerous places, did you know that offices have their own hazards too? West Virginia professional liability insurance can help businesses if they're faulted for their ideas or action rather than falls and damages.
Professional liability insurance typically covers:
You’ll see the word “negligence” used a lot with professional liability insurance, but what does it mean? If a client argues the action or inaction of a business caused them harm, whether it’s financial, emotional, or otherwise, they could potentially sue the company.
Here’s what that looks like in practice:
Since the potential homebuyers missed out on their dream house, they blame the realtor. They’re so upset that they sue for negligence. Now the uninsured realtor has to either pay the claim or pay for legal defense to prove they weren’t at fault. Either situation could be costly.
With professional liability insurance, the real estate agent’s policy could help to cover those costs.
If the client files a lawsuit, the consultant could face a costly legal bill. The client might want to recoup all of the money they lost, plus the consulting fee and reparations for any lasting impact on their business.
Without insurance, the consultant must find those funds in their business or personal finances. Professional liability coverage could help cover those costs.
West Virginia professional liability requirements can vary by occupation, and you may need a policy to apply for a professional license. While many businesses can consider insurance, you might not need to show proof of professional liability coverage to operate legally depending on your specific business and location.
Here are some industries that can benefit from West Virginia professional liability insurance:
While the previous two types of business insurance are more relevant to some types of businesses, West Virginia workers compensation insurance is required for all employers. This type of coverage can help pay employees that get sick or injured on the job. This both gives a safety net for employees and minimizes the financial burden on employers.
Typically, workers compensation insurance can cover:
Nearly all West Virginia employers must maintain workers comp insurance. This includes part-time help as well, so you should plan to get coverage when you hire your first employee. With the average workers comp claim reported being $41,000, having workers comp insurance coverage can make it easier to support injured or ill workers.
In addition to the three main types of West Virginia business insurance, there are supplementary policies to choose from. Some of these more specific policies include:
Home-based business insurance. Did you know that your homeowners or renters insurance might not cover your home office? A general liability policy also may exclude your home office, which is where a home-based business insurance policy can help.
Business personal property insurance. If you have equipment or tools at your business, you should consider extra coverage. A business personal property insurance policy could help you replace items that are damaged or stolen.
Construction payment bond. If you run a commercial construction company and have subcontractors and suppliers, you might need a payment bond. This financial agreement typically ensures that you can pay your suppliers and subcontractors.
While you should generally plan on getting West Virginia workers comp insurance if you’re an employer, there are a few exceptions. If you fall under an exception, you must apply for an exemption.
Some of these exceptions include:
Factors that usually go into calculating your workers comp premium include your location, company size, and industry. If you review the loss cost by class for the state, you’ll see that some industries come at a premium. For example, logging and tree removal companies may have to pay more in workers comp premiums than a jewelry store.
If you have additional questions regarding West Virginia workers compensation insurance, check out the Office of the Insurance Commissioner's website.
Carefully considering your budget is a key step in launching and keeping a business afloat. Chances are you think about each new expense carefully, which could make getting business insurance overwhelming.
Fortunately, general liability insurance quotes can start as low as $22.50 a month* at Simply Business. A small payment each month could pay off in the long run if you were to be hit with a claim. A premium that costs about as much as a fill-up at the gas station is much easier to swallow than the potential $20,000 average claim of a customer slip and fall.
It also helps that West Virginia business insurance is customized to your business. Each free quote from Simply Business considers things such as your location, type of business, company size, and more.
Sometimes you can save money by bundling policies, and you may be able to write off insurance expenses on business tax filings. We always recommend talking to a lawyer or accountant about deductions for your specific business, though.
It takes only a few minutes to chat with an agent at 855-931-5393 or get a free quote online, then you’ll have specific numbers to use in your budgeting.
Now that you’ve learned the basics of West Virginia business insurance, it’s time to put it all together and get to work. Here’s a refresher of what you should keep in mind:
As long as they don’t have employees, many businesses won’t have legal requirements for insurance in West Virginia. Regardless, though, you may want to consider insurance since costly accidents can happen to the best of business owners.
The type of work you do and your company size are the key factors that usually determine insurance requirements and recommendations. A 10-person construction company and a solo jewelry maker have different risks, insurance needs, and potentially different rules.
If you have employees, you’ll likely need West Virginia workers compensation insurance.
Since business insurance is personal to your company, you’ll need to do a bit more research. To make it as easy as possible, we’ve rounded up some useful links and tips for finding and comparing business insurance:
Talk to local business owners in your industry about what types of policies they have,or try finding a West Virginia trade organization to connect with.
Leverage free training and coaching from West Virginia’s Small Business Development Centers.
If you perform multiple services, be sure to check for rules across all of your offerings.
If you’re shopping for insurance on the Simply Business platform, feel free to reach out to our licensed insurance agents at 855-931-5393 to answer any additional questions you have.
Download your Certificate of Insurance (COI) once you have a policy. This proves that you’re covered, and the COI may be needed to get licensed, rent office space, and more.
When you’re running a business, every day comes with a new challenge or triumph. You never stop learning, and that commitment to growth is what will take you far.
*Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
This content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, investment, or any other form of professional advice.
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.