A Guide to Commercial Insurance Terms

Insurance terms can be difficult to understand, and when it comes to protecting your business, it’s vital that you have a clear view of what your coverage entails.  Getting to know the meaning behind some of the common terms used in commercial insurance is the best way to make shopping for your commercial policies simpler.  These definitions provide a basic guide to the world of commercial insurance, and will help break down the complex terms of your policy.

Liability Insurance Terms

  • General Liability:  This is a liability insurance policy that covers a wide range of (but not all) potential liability risks.  General liability is designed to provide for court costs associated with a lawsuit and to cover damages levied against your company if you are proved negligent in some way.
  • Professional Liability: This is a term for a variety of types of liability designed to defend professionals against negligence and errors made in the process of performing their duties.  Errors & Omissions and Malpractice are two common forms of professional liability coverage.
  • Personal Injury: This is an injury that is not physical, but instead a result of libel, slander, or any other form of defamation of another person for which your company might be held accountable.
  • Advertising Injury:  This is another type of injury that falls under liability coverage, and provides for damage or injury done to the reputation of another company as a result of advertising claims or statements on your part.
  • Product Liability:  This is coverage that provides for any damages that occur as a result of a product your company produces, either by faulty manufacturing or unintentional errors.
  • Premises Liability:  This refers to possible negligence claims arising from occurrences on your premises, or place of business.
  • Employment Practices Liability: This refers to coverage for any of the possible ways a business could be held responsible for actions taken in the name of hiring, terminating, or daily management of employees.  It can include things like discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment and more.

Property Insurance Terms

  • Property Insurance:  This is a general term referring to a commercial policy that covers all of your company’s property; everything you use within the insured premises.
  • Business Property (Or Business Personal Property):  This refers to that which is kept within the buildings in which you do your business.  It can include everything from light fixtures to desks, to stock and office supplies.  It also includes office and manufacturing equipment, although certain types of equipment may require special coverage.

Commercial Auto Insurance Terms

  • Commercial Auto: A general term for an auto policy that is designed for the use of a business rather than a personal vehicle policy.  Autos falling under this type of policy are those either owned by or used by the business or its employees on company business.
  • Owned and Non-Owned Auto:  This refers to the ownership of the vehicle as it relates to the coverage offered by the policy.  Coverage may be extended to both owned and non-owned autos depending on the circumstances.
  • Hired Auto: A vehicle that is leased or rented for the business use of the named insured on the policy.

Other Commercial Insurance Terms

  • Commercial Crime Coverage:  This is a type of coverage that provides for a wide variety of possible crimes committed by employees of the company.  This includes employee dishonesty, forgery, computer crimes, robbery and theft, and extortion.
  • Boiler & Machinery Coverage:  This provides coverage for damages that occur as a result of the breakdown or explosion of a boiler or other machinery on the premises.  This is required as an additional coverage since most standard policies exclude boiler and machinery damage.
  • Business Income Coverage:  This provides coverage to help pay for lost income as the result of damage, theft, or any other covered reason for loss of operations.

These common terms are good to know when seeking commercial insurance policies, but you may still run into terms you aren’t sure of.  Your insurance professional can walk you through the process of getting the right coverage and help to explain any terms or coverages you don’t understand.