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Maine.gov > PFR Home > Insurance Regulation > Consumer Information > All Brochures > Insuring Your Business
Insuring Your Business...
The Basics of Property & Liability Coverage
A Publication of
Insuring Your Business...
Although Maine law does not require you to have property and liability insurance on your business, you may want to buy coverage to protect you, your property, and your financial investment. Without insurance protection your business could face financial ruin either because of a property loss or a lawsuit. Although there are various types of coverage that a small business owner can or must buy, this brochure describes only property and liability coverage. If you have questions concerning coverage, check with your insurance agent or call the Maine Bureau of Insurance at (800) 300-5000 (in Maine) or (207) 624-8475.
Depending on the type of business, the best policy for you might be a commercial package policy or a businsessowners (BOP) policy. With a commercial package policy you and your agent choose the coverages you will buy, whereas businessowner policies contain pre-packaged coverages.
All policies contain exclusions and other limitations of coverage. It is important to review your entire policy to determine if you have exposures that may not be covered. It is also very important to note the coinsurance requirements of your policy. (Coinsurance is the minimum amount of insurance that you must carry before most companies will fully reimburse you for a partial loss.) You may want to discuss with your agent optional coverages such as Building Glass, Outdoor Signs, Boiler and Machinery or Mechanical Breakdown, Business Interruption, Extra Expense (to continue operations after a covered loss), Worker’s Compensation, Earthquake, Flood, or Peak-Season coverage.
Your property is the building and equipment that you own. Property insurance is one of the most important types of insurance that you can buy to protect the property, the inventory, and equipment used in running your business.
Types of Property Coverage
Basic Form or Named Peril – The “basic form” or “named peril” policy only gives you protection from events that are specifically listed in the policy. Examples of these listed events include: fire, hail, vandalism, windstorm, building collapse, or sprinkler damage. The selection of covered perils is a balancing decision between cost of insurance and how much of the risk you are willing to assume or what the property is worth. Because this type of coverage provides more restricted protection, the premium may be lower.
Broad Form – The “broad form” policy includes the covered perils listed in the basic form policy plus coverage for losses from additional perils such as collapse of roof due to weight of ice or snow or damage caused by accidental discharge of water or steam. Again, the types of losses that are covered are specifically listed in the policy.
Special Form or All Risk – Contrary to its name, the “all risk” or “special form” policy does not actually cover all losses. The “all risk” or “special form” policy does not cover losses that are specifically listed as exclusions in the policy. Businessowner policies are generally written on this basis, while a commercial property or package policy may be written with any of these described levels of coverage.
How is the Value of My Property Loss Determined When I have a Claim?
Note: Do not confuse replacement cost or ACV with market value (the amount you paid for your property), or appraisal or assessment values.
How Much Property Insurance Should I Buy?
To receive full coverage for a total loss your coverage should be at least equal to the cost to replace the property at the time of loss.
Most insurers require that the amount of coinsurance on property be at least 80% of its replacement cost; however, some companies may require 100%. It is important that you know what the policy requires. The building value and business personal property/equipment values are separate limits with separate conditions. If your property is not insured to the percentage of its value that is required by your policy and you have a loss, the insurance company will apply a coinsurance penalty and you will not receive the total value of your loss.
The easiest way to think of how coinsurance works is through the following formula:
HAVE ÷ SHOULD x LOSS = the amount that the company will pay minus your deductible.
You SHOULD have had this much insurance based on the coinsurance requirement.
The resulting percentage in the above formula (obtained by dividing HAVE by SHOULD) is multiplied by the actual amount of the LOSS. The result is the amount the company will pay minus your deductible (which is the amount that you agree to pay before the company pays). Anything above this amount will be paid by you .
The following examples explain how the coinsurance penalty works when a loss occurs.
Example 1 – Adequate Insurance
In the above example you are compensated for the entire amount of the covered loss minus the deductible. The amount of insurance that you have meets the coinsurance percentage required by your policy; you are NOT a co-insurer because you kept your promise to insure for at least 80% of the value to replace your property at the time of loss.
Example 2 - Inadequate Insurance
The insurer will pay $19,500 and you become a co-insurer for the remaining $20,500 of the loss because you didn’t meet the requirement of your policy to insure for at least 80% of the value at the time of loss ($200,000). Instead of having a policy for $200,000 of coverage, your policy was only $100,000, which resulted in you paying more out of pocket.
Example 3 - Over-insurance
Whether you choose to insure your property on a replacement or actual cash value basis, it is important to keep your coverage current. Check with your agent yearly and whenever new property is added or improvements are made to make sure that your policy gives you enough coverage. You may be able to add a rider or endorsement to the policy that automatically increases your policy amounts to keep up with inflation. Remember, it is your responsibility to choose the right amount of coverage.
How do I Cover Loss to my Equipment?
Equipment that is not attached to the building or is used off the premises, such as contractor’s mobile equipment, is covered with a Contractor's Equipment Floater. Other specific forms are available for Accounts Receivable, Camera and Musical Instrument Dealers, Jewelers Block, among others. Some of these may require purchase of a separate policy and some may be added to the Property policy by endorsement. (An endorsement is a document that makes a change to an insurance policy to add coverages, policy terms or exclusions to a policy without having to create and issue a new policy.)
Generally, each building and item insured will have its own deductible.
What is Pro-Rata Distribution?
Liability coverage protects you if someone is hurt while using your product or service or if someone is injured while on your property. Liability insurance can be an important coverage as a lawsuit could mean a large loss to your business. Consequently, you should carry enough liability insurance to protect your business from financial loss resulting from injuries, deaths, or property damage that are caused by your products, business operations, or employees.
Cancellation means that the insurance company is terminating your policy at some time between the effective date of your policy and its anniversary date.
Nonrenewal is when the company decides that it will not continue your policy after the anniversary date of your current policy.
A company can cancel your policy for one of the following reasons:
If your policy has been in effect for 60 days or more when a notice of cancellation is mailed from your insurer, you may request a hearing before the Superintendent of Insurance. You can do so by sending a written request to the Bureau of Insurance by mail or by fax, or by calling us. (See the contact information on the next page.) You must request the hearing within 45 days of your receipt of the notice.
Policies in effect less than 60 days when the cancellation notice is mailed or otherwise delivered do not have the right to a hearing, unless the policy is a renewal of a prior policy with that insurer.
A company may nonrenew your policy for any reason after giving a minimum of 30 days notice before the expiration date of the policy. If the policy has been nonrenewed, you are not entitled to a hearing before the Superintendent of Insurance.
There are other types of insurance coverage that are available to business owners besides the two types of coverages described in this booklet. Check with your insurance agent to choose the insurance coverage that best meets your needs.
1-800-300-5000 (in Maine), 207-624-8475, TTY 1-888-577-6690
Although the Bureau can give general insurance information, and help when violations of insurance law have occurred, the Bureau cannot:
Visit the Bureau’s Website at:
Last Updated: August 22, 2012
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