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Liability Insurance for small businesses in Old Dominion
Small businesses have a big impact in Virginia, where the Commonwealth's more than 723,000 small businesses make up 99.5% of all business Virginia has also demonstrated a dedication to helping its small businesses flourish and thrive. In 2014, Governor Timothy Kaine signed an executive order enhancing business opportunities for small, women- and minority-owned ("SWaM") businesses. The Commonwealth's goal was for at least 40% of its purchases to come from SWaM-certified businesses—no small change.
With all of this support, it's no surprise that Virginia's small businesses employ 1.5 million Virginians, or nearly half of the Commonwealth's private workforce, and that number keeps growing. In 2015, small businesses created more than 34,000 new jobs in the state, with businesses employing fewer than 20 employees leading the way. As small businesses play a bigger role in the Virginia economy, it is wise for them to take steps to protect themselves with business insurance from claims and lawsuits.
Top insurance covered industries in Virginia
Virginia is home to a diverse array of small businesses that can find coverage with Hiscox, which offers custom-tailored insurance plans that address the risks and needs of each individual business. Small business owners in Virginia who most frequently insure with Hiscox include business consultants, personal trainers, operators of cleaning and gardening services, and photographers.
With services that might include offering managerial advice, recommending marketing strategies, and maintaining confidential business and financial information, the work of a business consultant in Virginia is extremely sensitive, so these businesses can benefit from the protection of a range of insurance policies.
Professional liability insurance, also called errors and omissions insurance, covers claims against businesses that provide professional and personal services, such as business consultants. It offers protection even in cases in which the business hasn't made a mistake, such as if a business consultant advises a client to alter their internal process to increase productivity, the client does not implement the recommendations as specified, and productivity subsequently drops. The client may decide to sue, even though the business consultant is not at fault.
General liability insurance, which protects against claims of bodily injury or property damage, is also helpful for a business consultant who frequently travels from office to office or to clients' homes. If the consultant accidentally knocks over an expensive vase while visiting a client's home or office, general liability insurance will cover the costs of repairing or replacing the vase.
A personal trainer in Virginia might help clients get in shape, recover after injuries, or even train for a competition, and as personal trainers know well, there are many physical risks associated with physical training. Whether it's an injury sustained during a workout or chronic pain that occurs after sessions, the risks that come along with any fitness regimen may prompt litigious clients to file a claim against personal trainers, even when the trainer is not at fault.
Professional liability insurance, also called errors and omissions insurance, covers claims against businesses that provide professional and personal services, such as personal trainers. It offers protection even in cases where the personal trainer hasn't made a mistake, so if an older client happens to suffer chest pain and has to be rushed to the hospital after a session with a personal trainer and later claims that the personal trainer caused his heart attack and mental anguish, then a Hiscox professional liability policy will not only provide an attorney to defend against such claims, but it will also cover the costs of any settlement or judgment in the case.
In addition, general liability insurance, which protects against claims of bodily injury or property damage, can be especially useful in the heavily physical realm of personal training. This would protect the personal trainer's business if, for example, a client trips over a stack of weights and blames the personal trainer for not keeping the area clear and safe.
Janitorial and cleaning services
From factory floors to clients' bathrooms, Virginia's janitorial and cleaning services operate at a level of risk every day: they handle delicate and expensive items, they work on-site at customers' offices and homes, they operate cleaning equipment owned by clients, and they use dangerous chemicals. Even baseless liability claims can drain a business's assets, so Hiscox specializes in providing tailored coverage to give cleaning professionals peace of mind and protection against potential litigious situations.
General liability insurance, which protects against a third party's claims of bodily injury or property damage, is the most common policy used by janitorial and cleaning services. Protection against bodily injury might be needed, for example, if a client trips over an employee's cleaning equipment and breaks an ankle; even if the employee didn't directly cause the client's injury. Another example might be if an employee is cleaning an executive's office and, while dusting the shelves, breaks an antique figurine; the customer may demand that the cleaning service pay for the cost of repairing or replacing the antique. General liability insurance also protects against claims of personal injury, such as if an employee on their lunch break is overheard making disparaging comments about a client, who subsequently hears about the gossip and sues the business for slander.
Landscaping and gardening services
In Virginia, a lawn care provider might serve commercial customers, residential homeowners or both. Landscapers and gardeners might operate heavy equipment around homes, use sharp tools near clients, and handle harsh chemicals—activities that all bring a heightened risk of bodily injury and property damage that expose lawn care providers to potential liability. For all of these reasons, Hiscox provides tailored insurance that can fit the specific needs of each individual Virginia lawn care business.
Most lawn care providers will choose a general liability insurance policy, which protects against bodily injury, so if a client trips over a lawn care professional's tools and cuts open their hand, the policy will cover the costs of the client's medical care. It also protects against property damage, so if an employee breaks a window in a customer's home while working on the lawn, the policy will cover the costs associated with replacing the glass. And it also protects against personal injury, so if an employee is at lunch and starts talking to the cafe's owner about a client in a false and unflattering way and that client subsequently hears about this discussion and sues for slander, then the policy will cover the claim and pay for a defense attorney, as necessary.
Whether they shoot for the news, corporate clients, weddings or beyond, photographers in Virginia face the constant challenges of interacting with clients, navigating challenging environments, and getting the perfect shot—all while managing and maintaining their valuable equipment.
Photographers can find peace of mind through comprehensive 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 is dissatisfied with a photographer's work.
General liability insurance, which protects against a third party's claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury, provides another layer of protection. A photographer might face claims like these if a client trips over a tripod or a lighting stand and sues to cover associated medical costs or if the photographer's assistant is overheard gossiping about a client, who subsequently sues for defamation.
More professions we insure in Virginia
Virginia Small Business Insurance
To everyone living in the oldest colony in America, if you have a small business you’re in luck. In Virginia, we currently offer a range of small business insurance coverage customized to meet your business needs. Hiscox small business insurance products include:
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:
- Bodily injury: A client comes to an accountant’s office in Vienna on a rainy day. The client slips and falls in the entryway of the building, breaking their wrist. The accountant’s general liability policy could cover the costs associated with the client’s injury, including lost wages.
- Property damage: An interior decorator in Leesburg is measuring a client’s windows for new window treatments. The stepladder falls, knocking an expensive vase off a table and breaking it. The decorator’s general liability policy could cover the cost to replace the vase.
- Lost wages: A client came to the office of a human resources consultant to discuss a possible project. While there, the client tripped over an area rug and fell, hitting his head on a desk. The accident resulted in a concussion, the treatment for which required that he stay out of work for six weeks. The client insisted that the consultant was responsible for his lost wages. General liability insurance protects HR consultants against third-party claims of bodily injury, associated medical costs and property damage.
Learn more about general liability insurance.
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:
- ‘Bad’ advice: A management consultant in Fairfax recommends several cost-cutting measures to a client company, including laying off some experienced staff. The consultant’s report is very specific about the steps to take, including severance pay. The company lays off the staff but does not follow all of the consultant’s recommendations. One employee sues the company, and the company sues the consultant. A professional liability policy could protect the consultant, including covering legal costs as well as any settlement or judgment, even if they didn’t make a mistake.
- Dissatisfied customer: A photographer is hired to take pictures at an Alexandria wedding. The bride requests that the photographer take photos of her relatives who have travelled from outside the country to attend the wedding. The photographer tasks their assistant with taking these photos, and the assistant neglects to do so. The mistake is not discovered until after the wedding is over and the relatives have gone back home. The bride sues the photographer. The photographer’s professional liability policy could cover the liability, even though the mistake was made by the assistant.
Learn more about professional liability insurance.
Key Virginia laws and conditions driving increased business liability rates
Virginia's employee protection laws are somewhat more stringent than the baseline level of protection offered by federal labor laws. Federal law prohibits employers with more than 15 employees from discriminating against employees based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability or genetic information, with protections against age discrimination also applied to businesses with more than 20 employees and against citizenship status applied to businesses with more than four employees. Virginia's law, however, applies to employers with more than five employees, and it protects against discrimination based on marital status as well.
Like most states, Virginia is an "at-will" employment state, meaning that employers can fire employees at any time for any reason, but if an employee has a written employment contract promising job security (or even an implied contract based on statements in an employee handbook or oral promises), they can still sue for breach of contract.
Virginia workers compensation laws
According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, any Virginia business with two or more employees—including full- and part-time workers, seasonal and temporary workers, minors, trainees, immigrants and working family members—is required to carry workers compensation insurance.
However, there are exceptions: Sole proprietors, partners, and LLC members are not required to obtain coverage for themselves, but they may choose to cover themselves with their policy. Independent contractors are not automatically eligible for workers compensation coverage, but if two or more full- or part-time employees work for the independent contractor, those workers are eligible—so even a business with fewer than two employees should consider workers compensation insurance if it hires contract firms.
Virginia businesses may obtain small business insurance through a commercial carrier, such as Hiscox, or they may apply to insure themselves. Employers applying to self-insure must provide audited financial statements and a run of all occurring claims from the last three years to the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. If the business is permitted to self-insure, it will typically need to provide security through a bond in the minimum amount of $750,000; most security amounts are considerably higher. Self-insuring businesses will also be required to pay an annual tax of up to 3.25% of the basic manual insurance premium.
Any employer that fails to obtain workers compensation insurance will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $250 per day for each day uninsured, with a maximum penalty of $50,000.
How can Hiscox help your Virginia business?
Hiscox never settles for one-size-fits-all insurance policies. Instead, our expertise across a variety of industries helps ensure that the insurance for each client—from liability insurance to a business owner's policy to workers compensation and beyond—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, you'll never pay for coverage that you don't need.
- Claims responsiveness. When a covered claim is reported, Hiscox will immediately assign a dedicated claims representative to assist you.
- Worldwide coverage. A Virginia 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 the protection you need for your Virginia business. If you have questions, you can call us at 1-866-283-7545 and speak with a Hiscox licensed agent, Monday – Friday, 7am – 10pm ET.
Hiscox Customer Reviews
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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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