May 26, 2010

National Small Business Week - Missouri Department of Insurance says make sure your business is covered

Tax credits now available under federal health care reform law

Jefferson City, Mo. - President Barack Obama has declared National Small Business Week May 23-29, and the Missouri Department of Insurance is reminding small business owners of resources available to them.

Insurance Director John M. Huff says business owners should know their insurance options, which generally include:

  • Property insurance - Coverage for damage or theft to your business's physical property and equipment. Unlike a homeowners policy, commercial property insurance does not cover liability.
  • Commercial auto insurance - Required in Missouri, this covers damage to others' property as well as medical expenses. Typically, commercial auto insurance policies have higher liability limits than a personal auto insurance policy.
  • Liability insurance (also known as CGL or commercial general liability) - Coverage for bodily injury; damage to others' property; personal injury, including slander and libel; and false or misleading advertising.
  • Group health, life and disability - Three types of benefits provided to small business employees, which may help recruit and retain workers.
  • Workers' compensation - Coverage for claims by employees following a work-related injury or illness. In general, Missouri law requires any business with five or more employees to carry workers' comp.
  • Business interruption - Coverage for lost earnings due to circumstances stated in your policy - such as fire or other damage - that shut down your business for an extended period of time.

The Department of Insurance earlier this month launched the Insurance for Small Business site, which can be accessed from insurance.mo.gov. This new online content is geared toward the insurance needs of small businesses. Topics covered include group health, life and disability insurance coverage options for employees, commercial property, auto and liability insurance. Also available are a glossary of commonly used insurance terms and a way to research insurance companies to check on their consumer complaint history and the current status of their license.

Huff reminds small business owners of the tax credits now available under the new federal health care reform law. Small businesses can claim a federal tax credit of up to 35 percent of what they pay for employee health premiums. To qualify, a business must have 25 or fewer employees; pay average annual wages of less than $50,000; and pay at least half of its employees' health insurance premiums.

"Small businesses are a vital part of Missouri's economy, and we want them to be adequately covered and appropriately insured to protect their investments," said Huff.

Small businesses and other consumers with complaints or general questions about insurance can contact the department at insurance.mo.gov or call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390.

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department's seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

###