As a small business owner myself, I'm routinely asked what insurance do I really need for my small company in Naples? I don't want to go over board and can't afford to spend a lot, but at the same time know I could be crippled in any sort of claim or liability situation.

I always start my answer with liability. There are two options for the small company. You can secure a standalone general liability policy that protects the company from liability associated with the operation of the business. This liability can be anything from someone tripping and falling in your place of business, to accidental damages done to person or property while performing a service like landscaping or plumbing and so on. An additional component could be completed products liability coverage. In this case your company sells or provides a product and that product injures or damages someone else. With completed products coverage this situation could be covered as well. Another liability component is for any damages caused to other businesses around you due to your negligence. For example, your company rents a space in a strip center and somehow one of your employees causes a water leak or even fire that damages or destroys your neighboring businesses. This component would provide coverage for that scenario. So I always suggest to small business owners to get make sure you have that liability coverage in place first. Murphy's Law is that something unfortunate will happen when you're least prepared for it, so be prepared. Additionally with general liability coverage, your insurer will be there to help defend you in a liability situation. If Morgan & Morgan call you want them dealing with your insurer, not yourself. In many cases these policies can cost a few hundred dollars a year for a couple million dollars in protection.

After liability, a small business needs to insure and protect their own property from the likes of fire, weather damage and theft. This can be anything from computers and software for web design companies to inventory for retail stores. Additionally you may want to insure your locations or space. If a location or building is owned, you would want to insure that building and if space is rented you may want to look at insuring the cost of build out if it needed to be re-done. Commercial property insurance can be secured as a standalone policy but most often the most economic option is to bundle with your general liability coverage in what is known as a business owner's policy or BOP. The BOP would include all of the general liability components mentioned above plus property coverage as needed by the business. Additionally, most BOP's include a long list of supplemental coverages at no additional cost not always included in standalone policies and these policies too tend to be quite inexpensive as well.

If your small business owns autos or trucks then a commercial auto policy will be needed. Like personal auto policies, these policies include liability coverage for the company in the case of an accident plus can cover the cost to repair or replace the company's vehicles. These polices also can protect the employee drivers from liability associated with an accident while driving as part of their job. What many don't realize is that their personal auto policy in most instances will not cover them if driving in a commercial situation. It's listed in the 50 page policy detail you get with your ID cards. Here's an example. An owner of a small company buys a small truck to help with small deliveries of his company's products around town. She doesn't insure the truck under a commercial auto policy, rather just adds it to her own personal policy. One afternoon an employee is driving the truck to deliver something for a customer and is involved in a multi-car accident and is found to be responsible for it. There are multiple injuries, potential disabilities, and much property damage. Not having a commercial auto policy in place, the driver is personally liable for damages but so is the company he works for since the accident happened as part of his employment and so is the company's owner since she owns the truck and has her personal insurance coverage on it. Unfortunately there's not going to be any insurance coverage to help deal with the losses associated with this accident. The driver's personal auto policy will more than likely decline the claim since he was making a commercial delivery for an employer. The owner's personal policy will decline for the same reason and there's no commercial policy in place so all three will be liable for damages personally and corporately. This is an actual event that happened in Southwest Florida and Morgan & Morgan did call, bankrupting the driver, the owner and their business. If a commercial auto policy had been in place, liability would have stopped there, protecting all involved.

If you're a licensed professional you may need professional liability, errors & omission or malpractice liability coverage. This covers you for any damages associated with your personal license. For example, attorneys, Realtors, investment advisors, and of course doctors and nurses need these professional liability policies. This coverage is for damages resulting from actions allowed under the applicable license.

An additional liability small businesses face is from employees who may get hurt while working and a worker’s comp policy covers this liability. In Florida, worker's compensation coverage is required for all businesses with four or more employees (one employee if in construction field.)

Owners of small businesses also have many inexpensive options for offering benefits for themselves and/ or their staffs, including health, disability and life insurance. Employee savings, IRAs and 401ks can also be an option. These costs can be borne by the company or shared with the employee or paid for by employee through simple payroll deductions. Also, often times it's important for small businesses to have succession plans in place including life and disability policies to protect the company if an owner is incapacitated.

This is small concise list of insurance that's available and may be necessary for your small business. The best option as always is to consult with an insurance advisor.