Ask for dessert

Business insurance policies are often written a la carte: They give you the main course, but you’ve got to buy dessert separately. Sweetening your insurance policy up front can cost only a few dollars and save you thousands later, if you have a claim.

Here’s a look at some tasty treats I recommend considering for your business insurance program. Costs vary per policy and are approximate below.

Non-owned auto

If your employee causes a car accident while driving his or her own vehicle while on company business, you and your company may be sued. Non-owned auto coverage protects your business for this type of claim. Cost: $150 to $250 annually or 41 cents to 68 cents per day.

Employee benefits liability

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you forgot to add an employee to your group medical insurance plan and he or she suffered a horrible injury? Who would be liable? You would — for all their medical bills — unless you have employee benefits liability. Cost: $250 annually or 68 cents per day.

Employee dishonesty

Most employees are as honest as the day is long. But what if you find out an employee you trusted has been stealing from you? Employee dishonesty coverage can help. Some policies automatically provide $10,000 coverage. Ask your agent how to increase that limit. Cost: $150 to $400 annually or 41 cents to $1.10 per day.

Building ordinance

If your building was built more than 10 years ago, it’s likely that if it is destroyed you’ll be required to meet costly new ordinances when rebuilding. Only building ordinance coverage will pay for the additional costs of meeting current codes. Cost: varies according to coverage limit.

Outdoor property

Fences, radio or television antennas (including satellite dishes), trees, shrubs and plants that are outside your place of business may be covered for $250 per item — or not at all, unless you have outdoor property coverage. Covered perils are normally limited to fire, lightning, explosion, aircraft and riot/civil commotion. Hurricane is rarely included. Cost: $100 to $400 annually or 27 cents to $1.10 per day.

Back-up sewers and drains

If a sewer or drain backed up, causing stinky, disgusting sludge to slosh across your carpet or floors, wouldn’t it be nice to pay someone else to clean it up for you? Many policies automatically exclude this coverage unless you request it. Cost: $150 to $500 annually or 41 cents to $1.37 per day.

Remember, all business insurance policies are different. Some automatically provide you a lot of coverage while some serve only the main course. Talk with your agent to find out if you have all the sweet things that you need to cover your assets.

• Pamela Varma Brown writes insurance info for Hawai‘i businesses. She has been in the industry for nearly 30 years. She may be reached at 821-8899, by cell phone at 651-3533 or visit for more info. Question about business insurance you’d like answered in this column? Email


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