APR 09, 2015 | BY CATERINA PONTORIERO
Most small business owners probably worry about theft, property damage, and fire risks
affecting their businesses. While these are common claims for small business owners, perhaps they
should be more worried about customer injury, product liability, and reputational damage.
The Hartford analyzed small business claims from more than one million property and liability
policies over five years, and found that the costliest claims aren’t always the most common.
For example, the most common claim — burglary and theft — is actually the least expensive
claim in The Hartford’s ranking of the 10 costliest claims. While 20% of small business owners were
impacted by theft and burglary in the past five years, the claims only cost them, on average, $8,000.
That isn’t much when compared to the costliest claim, which averages $50,000 per claim.
Here are the top 10 property and liability claims for small businesses, as well as some tips from
The Hartford to prevent experiencing some of these claims.
Burglary and theft: 20% (Percentage of all small business claims)
When hiring employees, conduct background checks. Protect your business by ensuring your
building has adequate devices installed to control unauthorized entry, fencing and gates around the
building and parking areas, and sufficient exterior and interior lighting.
Water and freezing damage: 15%
Maintain proper indoor temperature during periods of extremely cold weather, even when away.
Make sure your key employees and personnel know the location of the water shut-off valve. In the
event of winter weather, clear roofs and overhangs of excessive snow and ice.
Wind and hail damage: 15%
In the event of a storm, know your business property. Treat and maintain trees that can blow
over. Protect windows from flying debris by walking the grounds and moving objects inside that
could become projectiles in high winds, and anchor any equipment stored outside that could be
moved by high winds.
Fire claims are ranked in the top five of both the most common and costly claims. The average
cost for a fire claim is $35,000, impacting 10% of small business owners in the past five years.
Prevent fire from damaging your business by testing all fire and life safety detection and
suppression equipment per local and national fire codes. Protect your employees by establishing or
updating your emergency preparedness plan, which should include fire evacuation routes. Mark the
routes clearly and drill employees in using them.
Customer slip and fall: 10%
Customer injury and damage: >5%
Product liability: >5%
Struck by object: >5%
Reputational harm: >5%
Though less than 5% of small businesses file claims for reputational harm, it is the costliest
claim they face. A claim payout can run much higher if a lawsuit is involved, and can average more
than $75,000 per case to defend and settle. Based on The Hartford’s claims history, 35% of all general
liability claims result in a lawsuit.
The internet can cause your business reputational harm. Make sure to have permission to post
photos or other content on your website to avoid copyright infringement, and avoid criticizing a
competitor publicly online or to customers.
Vehicle accident: >5%
Screen employee driving records before allowing them to use their car for business purposes,
and do not provide incentives to drivers for speedy deliveries.