A Guide to Commercial Real Estate Insurance for Your Business

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In most major markets, commercial real estate leases in heavily-trafficked neighborhoods can explode a company’s monthly overhead. Besides the cost of the space itself, you may be on the hook for utilities, shared common area costs, security, supplies, and staff. But one cost that’s easily overlooked may be the most important: commercial property insurance.

For those in manufacturing, retail, and non-profits, this is a critical aspect in protecting your business from unforeseen accidents and incidents. While each industry (and the accompanying assets associated with each business) demand different costs for commercial property insurance, it’s important not to overlook this facet of commercial real estate leases. And as with auto or home insurance, it doesn’t hurt to shop around before securing a policy. 

Before you start your search for a suitable commercial property insurance policy, you should inform yourself with the ins and outs to ensure you know what to expect from your specific business requirements and to protect your company from undue burden.

Explaining the Basics of Commercial Property Insurance 

As with residential insurance, commercial property insurance covers a wide variety of danger and accidents, but it’s not a blanket protection. Most commercial property insurance policies cover common accidents, like theft, water damage, natural disasters, vandalism, and fires, but most importantly, these policies insure your property and resources within the building itself. In addition, they protect property your customers and employees bring into the store, signage, and branding items located within. However, it doesn’t protect you against lawsuits, so business owners should invest in general liability insurance to protect yourself against expensive legal fees related to your business. 

Who Should Secure Commercial Property Insurance?

Any business with a physical location should invest in commercial property insurance to protect the building itself, but even those who own their business and work from a home office should purchase commercial property insurance as well. 

Whether you have a commercial real estate lease or own the building outright (or are paying a mortgage), you’ll need commercial property insurance to cover the building. If you’re renting the property, the owner will transfer liability to you based on the square footage included in the lease. Before you can even sign a commercial real estate lease, you need to provide proof of commercial property insurance showing coverage amounts and the scope of the policy. 

Breaking Down Costs and Benefits

Depending on the value of your assets, including specialized equipment, computer systems, furniture, etc., your annual rate for commercial property insurance will differ. However, small businesses, such as coffee shops, boutique clothing stores, and bookstores, can expect to pay between $500-1000 per year. These rates are based on the construction materials of the building, distance to a local fire department station, and the nature of the business. Also, like residential property insurance, the rates will differ based on the value of the property and its contents- the larger your business, square footage, and the more valuable your assets, the higher your deductible will be.

To protect against accidental fires, water damage, flooding, and other natural disasters as well as man-made damages like vandalism and theft, commercial property insurance is an essential – and sometimes mandatory, as stated above – aspect of owning and operating a business of any size or scope. 

What’s Lessors Risk Insurance – and Why Does it Matter?

Lessors risk insurance is only applicable for building owners who maintain a minority of the property’s square footage and sublease the remaining area to other occupants. While building owners require commercial property insurance from tenants, lessors risk policies are an essential component of owning and operating a commercial building. These policies are less expensive than commercial property insurance, but still insure the property and its assets. 

What to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Commercial Property Insurance

As previously mentioned, commercial property insurance only covers certain aspects in the insurance world and shouldn’t be used as a blanket protection. If you’re about to start a business or open your first physical location, keep the following additional policies in mind to maximize your protection going forward:

Property Insurance

Whether you own the building you occupy or are leasing a space, you likely own several thousand dollars worth of business property, including computer systems, tools, equipment, and inventory to ensure continuity of business. Property insurance protects these assets against fires, theft, and other forms of damage. Optional features of these types of policies may also cover the loss of earnings as a result of incidents – which should be strongly considered by those seeking commercial property insurance policies. 

General Liability Insurance

This is the most basic and essential insurance policy in the commercial world, offering protections against damages and legal fees related to bodily harm or property damage to a third party on or off your company’s physical territory. General liability insurance is a crucial addition to commercial property insurance and should not be overlooked when considering a new facility for your company. 

Commercial Auto Insurance

For any company with vehicles under its name for employee use, commercial auto insurance is essential. Any vehicle that transports employees, assets, or proprietary information should be insured under these policies to protect against theft, accidents, and acts of God. Even if your company compensates employees for mileage and gasoline for their personal vehicles during business hours, you should invest in non-owned auto liability insurance in the event that an employee doesn’t have adequate insurance in the event of an incident. 

Business Owner’s Policies

These policies, otherwise known as BOPs, offer a bundle of business-related insurance policies, including business interruption, commercial auto, liability, crime/theft, and property insurance. Your rate will depend on your needs, but these are packaged to ensure business owners receive the best rate without having to invest in multiple policies from different providers. 

Professional Liability Insurance 

A professional liability insurance policy protects the company against any failure to render professional services – and isn’t included in a general liability insurance policy. Lawyers, accountants, consultants, and any other professional services provider should invest in this type of policy in addition to commercial property insurance. 

Data and Computer Systems Insurance

When a company collects privileged data, it has a legal responsibility to protect it. Should a data breach occur, this type of insurance would protect the company against damages and legal costs associated with any data loss, breach, or accidental disclosure of such information. 

Directors and Officers Insurance

This policy type protects employees at the highest levels of the company – C-level employees – against actions that could affect the profits of the company itself. Should their performance or actions while employed by the company demonstrate a legal risk or expose the company to a lawsuit, this policy would protect the company against damages and cover legal costs. 

No matter where you decide to set up shop, it’s important to factor in the costs of insuring your commercial real estate lease and property in order to protect your company from accidents, theft, and lawsuits – no matter your industry or area of focus.

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