(BPT) - Home-based businesses are booming.
About 36.6 million businesses operate from U.S. households, according to the Home Based Business Institute. And the Small Business Administration notes that 53 percent of all small businesses located in the U.S. are home-based, with those numbers expected to grow substantially in the near future.
But before you start planning your home-based bakery, personal training studio or computer repair venture, there's one important thing to think about. Charles Valinotti, head of underwriting & product with insurer QBE, says that you should make sure you have the right insurance to protect your at-home enterprise.
A homeowner's or renter's insurance policy might provide some coverage for a business that operates out of the home, he says.
"If someone is running a small accounting business with little-to-no customer foot traffic and doesn't have expensive office equipment, the homeowner's or renter's insurance would probably be acceptable to most insurance providers," Valinotti points out. "But if you have a pottery school with customers coming and going, and are using pottery ovens that might be a fire hazard, most insurers don't want to take on those kinds of risks."
Depending on what type of business you're brewing, Valinotti says there are three insurance options you'll want to consider:
Homeowner's policy endorsement: An endorsement is a special provision added to an insurance policy to enhance or restrict its coverage. Adding a simple endorsement can increase coverage for business equipment, such as computers. You'll also want to look into buying a homeowner's liability endorsement - available in most states - to cover on-site injuries to customers or delivery people. A liability endorsement is usually available to in-home operations with few business-related visitors.
In-home business policy: Valinotti says this policy is also known as an in-home business endorsement. Coverage can vary significantly between insurers. It provides more protection than what's found in a typical homeowner's policy. That includes more comprehensive property and equipment coverage, as well as protection for loss of income, extra expenses incurred, and liability for injuries caused by the products and services you offer.
Business owner's policy: If your home-based business is in more than one location, this policy might fit the bill, Valinotti says. It gives broader property and liability coverage than the in-home business policy. However, if you have employees, it doesn't include workers' compensation, health or disability insurance.
Valinotti also suggests you don't forget about auto insurance if you're using your car for business to transport supplies or products, or to visit customers.
He recommends contacting your agent for more information on the right insurance for your home-based business. "If you're doing business at home, you need insurance. Finding the right coverage will go a long way to give you peace of mind and help make your special business possible."