Protecting small businesses in the Ocean State
In Rhode Island, small businesses are not a small part of this state's economy. There are 100,000 small businesses employing nearly a quarter of a million people in Rhode Island, or more than half of the state's private workforce. Small business proprietors are growing by 2.6% every year—the tenth-fastest growing state in the nation.
Rhode Island's small businesses also have a big share in certain industries, employing 76.2% of workers in the state's mining industry and 65.1% of workers in the state's manufacturing industry. Altogether, 61.6% of Rhode Island's export value comes from small businesses—no small change!
This may be due to Rhode Island’s support for small business. In 2017, Rhode Island rolled out the BankLOCAL program which provides incentives for banks and credit unions to make loans to small business. In the first two years, the program supported more than 235 businesses. However, with strict worker protection laws – and steep penalties for violations – it is essential for Rhode Island business owners to protect their livelihoods through comprehensive small business insurance coverage.
Top covered industries in Rhode Island
Small businesses in Rhode Island's diverse industries can find custom-tailored insurance coverage with Hiscox, where an in-depth knowledge of many different fields allows for policies that address each business's specific risks and needs. Some of the Rhode Island entrepreneurs who most frequently insure with Hiscox include those who work in the carpentry, hair styling, painting, photography and personal training industries.
Whether they build custom furniture or kitchen cabinetry, carpenters in Rhode Island face unique risks, no matter how cautious or experienced they are. Working on-site at clients' homes and businesses, using hazardous professional equipment, and dealing with others' personal property bring a heightened liability risk that can benefit from custom, comprehensive small business insurance—and an insurance policy inspires confidence in clients when they're deciding which carpenter to hire for a project.
Most carpenters choose the protection of general liability insurance, which offers several essential benefits. Because it protects against bodily injury, the carpenter's business will be protected if, for example, a client trips over the cord of the carpenter's electric drill and falls, breaking their wrist. The policy will cover the client's medical costs and protect the carpenter in the case of legal action. Because it protects against claims of property damage, it will cover any costs incurred if the carpenter, while hanging cabinets for a kitchen remodel, drills into the wall and hits a pipe, flooding the kitchen. And because it protects against personal damage, the business will be protected if, for example, one of the carpenter's employees is overheard gossiping about a client in a false and unflattering way and the client subsequently hears about the discussion and sues for slander. In those cases, the policy will cover the resulting claim and pay for a defense attorney when necessary.
As part of the beauty industry, hairdressers and hair stylists interact directly with clients in a very personal way every single day. While this may be part of the appeal of working as a hair stylist, it also carries certain risks, including client claims of emotional distress, bodily injury, personal injury, treatments gone wrong and property damage. Even when these claims do not have a factual basis, such claims can be costly, stressful and detrimental to a hair stylist's business.
Professional liability insurance, also called errors and omissions insurance, protects in the case of lawsuits claiming that a business has negligently performed its services. For a hair stylist, a case like this might arise when a hairdresser leaves a color treatment on too long and the client suffers scalp burns and hair damage and sues for emotional distress and bodily injury.
Rhode Island hair stylists can also benefit from general liability insurance, which protects the business owner in the case of lawsuits claiming property damage, slander and bodily injury that may occur even when no individual is at fault. For example, if a client brings their laptop to the salon and an employee accidentally trips over it and breaks it, a general liability policy could cover the subsequent claim.
Painters are exposed to potential liability whenever they enter a house, an apartment building or a commercial building for their day-to-day interior painting work. Services such as removing old wall coverings or disposing of lead-based paints can expose clients and employees alike to hazards, and painters could potentially face lawsuits over floor-damaging paint spills, slip-and-fall accidents and even employees' comments about clients during break times. For all of these reasons, Hiscox provides custom insurance that can fit each Rhode Island painting business's specific needs.
General liability insurance is one of the most important types of insurance for a small painting business to have. It protects against bodily injury, so if a client trips over a painter's equipment and breaks an ankle, the policy will cover the client's medical costs. It also protects against property damage, so if paint spills during a job and damages a client's hardwood floors, the policy will cover the costs associated with refinishing the floors. And it also protects against personal injury, so if an employee is at lunch and starts talking about a client in a false and unflattering way and the client hears about this discussion and sues for slander, the policy will cover the claim and pay for a defense attorney, if necessary.
Whether they shoot for weddings or for Rhode Island's news media, photographers have to liaise with clients, navigate challenging environments, and get the perfect shot—all while managing their valuable equipment. Altogether, all the excitement of a photographer's job can come with heightened risk.
Photographers can find peace of mind by securing reliable professional liability insurance coverage, also called errors and omissions insurance, which covers claims against businesses that provide professional services. These claims might arise, for example, if a faulty memory card prevents a photographer from delivering photographs to a client or if a difficult client claims to be dissatisfied with a photographer's work.
General liability insurance, which protects against a third party's claims of bodily injury or property damage, provides another layer of protection. A photographer might face claims like these if a client trips over their camera bag and sues to cover associated medical costs or if the photographer's assistant is heard gossiping about a high-profile client who subsequently files a libel or defamation lawsuit.
Personal trainers in Rhode Island might train clients for competition, help them recover after injuries, or simply help them get in shape. But as personal trainers know well, there are risks that come along with any fitness regimen, from injuries sustained during workouts to physical damage from equipment to chronic pain that starts after a session is over. While these risks are inherent to physical training, they may prompt litigious clients to file a claim against their personal trainers.
Professional liability insurance, also called errors and omissions insurance, covers claims against businesses that provide professional and personal services, such as personal trainers. This insurance offers protection even when the trainer hasn't made a mistake, such as if an older client suffers chest pain and has to be rushed to the hospital after a session and subsequently files a claim alleging that the personal trainer caused his heart attack and mental anguish. Not only will a Hiscox professional liability policy provide an attorney to defend against such claims, but it will also cover the costs of any subsequent payments for medical care.
In addition, the physical nature of a personal trainer's business can use the protection of general liability insurance, which protects against claims of bodily injury or property damage. This would protect the personal trainer's business in the case of slip-and-fall claims, which are not uncommon in a busy gym environment.
More professions we insure in Rhode Island
Rhode Island Small Business Insurance
As small business insurance specialists we understand that every business is different, which is why we don’t offer one-size-fits-all solutions. We customize our small business insurance in Rhode Island to the specific risks you face, ensuring you get the right coverage at the right price.
General liability insurance, known as Commercial General Liability (CGL), protects your business from another person or business’s claims of bodily injury, associated medical costs, and damage to property. Some examples of what could be covered are below:
- Exceeding project schedule: A management consultant was hired to do a project that included assessing the client’s customer service function. As the project progressed, more deliverables were added. When the consultant informed the client that the project had become too large for him to complete on his own, the client sued him for not completing the project as agreed. Professional liability insurance could protect management consultants against claims of negligence and will appoint an attorney to defend them, even if they haven't made a mistake.
- Bodily injury: At a media event being held at a consultant’s office, a journalist had too much to drink and stumbled into a table, knocking it over, breaking several glasses and injuring himself. He brought a claim for his injuries against the consultant. General liability insurance protects media consultants against third-party claims of bodily injury, associated medical costs and property damage.
- Property damage: A claims adjuster was inspecting a home for a claim of water damage. While in the home, he knocked over and broke an expensive sculpture. The homeowner made a claim for the cost to replace the sculpture. General liability insurance could protect claims adjusters against third-party claims of bodily injury, associated medical costs and property damage.
Learn more about general liability insurance costs.
Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O insurance), covers another person’s claims against businesses that provide professional and personal services. Some examples of what could be covered include:
- Negligence: A regular Pilates client starts to experience severe back pain and makes a claim against the studio for negligently instructing her. Professional liability protects yoga and Pilates instructors and studio owners against such claims and will appoint an attorney to defend them, if necessary, even if they haven’t made a mistake.
- Dissatisfied client: Parents hired a tutor to help their child improve their SAT scores. After several tutoring sessions, the student took the test for the second time and received lower scores than the first time. The parents sued for a refund of the fees they paid the tutor. Professional liability insurance could protect tutors against claims of negligence and will appoint an attorney to defend them, even if they haven’t made a mistake.
Learn more about professional liability insurance.
Key Rhode Island laws and conditions driving increased business liability rates
Employees in all U.S. states have a baseline level of protection guaranteed by the federal government, which requires all employers with at least 15 employees to guarantee freedom from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion and disability. Employers with 20 or more employees must guarantee freedom from age discrimination, and employers with four or more employees must guarantee freedom from discrimination based on citizenship status.
In Rhode Island, state protections are much stronger. Employers with as few as four employees must guarantee freedom from employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, AIDS or HIV status, gender identity or expression, homelessness or status as a victim of domestic abuse. In addition, all employers—even if they have only one employee—must comply with state laws prohibiting gender-based wage discrimination.
Like most states, Rhode Island is an "at-will" employment state, where employers can terminate employment at any time for any reason, yet fired employees can still sue for breach of contract if, for example, they have a written contract promising job security. Rhode Island also recognizes implied employment contracts, such as if an employee handbook states that employees will only be fired for good cause.
These laws are in place for the employees' protection, but they also represent a litigation risk for employers. While all business owners will do their best to mitigate these risks through careful management practices, all small business owners can use the protection and peace of mind of a comprehensive insurance policy.
Rhode Island workers compensation laws
According to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, all Rhode Island employers—even those with just one employee—are required to obtain workers compensation insurance. Sole proprietors, partners and independent contractors are exempt from workers compensation requirements, as are certain real estate, agricultural and domestic service employees.
Employers who hire independent contractors should ensure that the contractors have filed a Notice of Designation as Independent Contractor form; otherwise, the contractor would be considered an employee, and the employer could be held liable for their workers compensation coverage. And penalties for violations are steep. If an investigation finds noncompliance with Rhode Island's regulations due to a clerical error, the employer is subject to an administrative penalty that is, at minimum, equivalent to the estimated annual premium for that employer and can be up to three times that amount.
But if the employer is found to have knowingly failed to obtained workers compensation insurance, the business owner—or the business's corporate officers, managing members or partners—faces a felony charge, a prison sentence of up to two years and a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each day of noncompliance.
How can Hiscox help your Rhode Island business?
At Hiscox, we tailor each client's coverage—from liability insurance to a business owner's policy to workers compensation and beyond—to ensure that it meets each business's particular needs. We offer a range of benefits:
Flexible payment options. Our monthly payment schedule, which comes with no added fees, can help you manage your cash flow.
- Tailored insurance. With Hiscox, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all insurance policy.
- Claims responsiveness. When a covered claim is reported, Hiscox will immediately assign a dedicated claims representative to assist you.
- Worldwide coverage. A Rhode Island business insured through Hiscox is covered for work done anywhere in the world, as long as the claim is filed in the U.S., a U.S. Territory or Canada.
Get a fast, free quote now, and get in the protection you need for your Rhode Island business. If you have questions, you can call us at 1-866-283-7545 to speak with a Hiscox licensed agent, Monday – Friday, 7am – 10pm ET.
Quote online or call a licensed insurance agent
Hiscox Customer Reviews
Eric, North Kingston, RI
"Comprehensive Policy at a Competitive Price"
Rep was clear and concise about policies available and helpful in finding one that fit my business needs. Prices are also competitive.
Bill R., Scottsdale, AZ
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This information is provided to assist you in understanding the coverage we offer and does not modify the terms and conditions of any insurance policy, nor does it imply that any claim is covered. Coverage is subject to underwriting and may not be available in all states.
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