Selling property and managing real estate is complex and fraught with risk. These are in addition to the typical risks most businesses face like damage to your place of business or business-related records. Learn about the insurance coverage real estate agencies like yours typically need and most often purchase from The Hartford.

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Does your business own, lease, rent or borrow any vehicles?
Do you operate your business out of your home?

Coverage for Home-Based Businesses

As someone who works from home, you may not think that you need special coverage for your business. And while home-based business coverage may be available through your homeowner's insurance company, it might not provide enough – or the right types – of coverage to protect you from the risks you face.

Depending on your policy, you might be lacking coverage for:

  • Business equipment or inventory losses.
  • Your garage or other detached structure if used primarily for business.
  • Clients who come to your home for business purposes.
  • Damage caused by you or your employees.
  • Business-related losses that occur away from your home office.
     

Something else you might want to consider: Homeowner’s policies don't typically cover data breach losses, which are becoming more common every day. In addition, you could be left vulnerable if you lose income because you are not able to use your home office due to a fire or other unexpected loss. And it is likely you're not covered for lost or damaged business records.

That's why you should talk to your insurance agent or a representative from The Hartford to find out whether you need additional coverage for your home-based business.
 

Business Owner's Policy

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At a minimum, most real estate agents have a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). Why? Because it helps protect your business in much the same way that a homeowner’s policy protects your home and personal possessions.

By combining some of the most important coverages small business owners need, including Business Liability, Business Property and Business Income, a BOP can save you money while helping to safeguard what you’ve worked hard to build. It also provides an easy way to purchase optional, additional coverage customized to your real estate business.
 

The place where you do business – whether you own or lease it – is vital to your day-to-day operations. And, no matter how careful you are, unexpected events, such as fire or vandalism, can and do happen. Having property coverage could mean the difference between complete catastrophe and a minor blip. You should consider property insurance that not only covers damage to your buildings and furniture, but also your computers and the other things you need to keep your business up and running.

These days, even the most careful business owners can be sued. And, even if the outcome is in your favor, the legal costs can be staggering. Business Liability coverage helps protect your business from claims for damages caused by your employees, products and some operations. It also helps cover the cost of your defense. So, how much coverage do you need? That depends on the type of real estate you sell or manage. An insurance agent – or a representative from The Hartford – can help answer your questions.

In addition to Business Property and Liability coverage, a BOP may include Business Income coverage (also referred to as Business Interruption coverage). This helps cover loss of income when you can’t run your business because of covered property damage caused by an unexpected event. For example, a fire causes your business to close for 3 days while repairs are made. Business Income coverage can help you meet ongoing financial obligations, like rent and payroll.

Optional Coverages Businesses Like Yours Often Buy

We all depend on services such as power and communication in our everyday lives. For real estate agents, these services are essential to the work you do.

Service interruptions are often beyond your control. But think about the impact it could have on your income if you need to shut down because:

  • A storm downs power lines and computer service is not available for several days.
  • A water main bursts, cutting off the water supply to your business. Due to the extensive work involved in repairing the break, you can’t open for 2 days.

Unfortunately, 40% of small businesses forced to close due to a storm will never reopen.* The Hartford’s OPUS coverage helps replace lost income, so you can pay ongoing expenses like rent and payroll. And, our coverage automatically includes features you won’t find from many other insurance companies, including:

  • Only a 12-hour waiting period before coverage begins
  • A $25,000 starting minimum coverage limit

* Source: Protecting Your Businesses, FEMA, last updated 3/1/2013

Real estate agencies depend on computers for countless reasons, including researching and advertising properties, storing contracts, deeds and leases, scheduling appointments, maintaining employee records and payroll, bookkeeping, and more. Think about what would happen if:

  • The computers in your office were damaged, and you lost your open house listings, client contracts, or lease agreements.
  • An employee mistakenly opens an email attachment that contains a virus. The virus crashes your network and corrupts your client records.

Computers and Media Coverage will help pay to research and replace the lost data so you can get back to running your business.
 

Real estate brokers often store information about their employees and clients, including social security and bank account numbers. If that information is lost or stolen, it could leave your business vulnerable to lawsuits, regulatory fines, penalties and a damaged reputation.

Contrary to popular belief, the risk of a data breach is not just a problem for big business and hacking isn’t the only way a breach can occur. Consider what could happen if:

  • An employee’s car is broken into and a laptop containing clients’ personally identifiable information is stolen.
  • An email containing sensitive employee or property information is sent to the wrong person.
  • Important client records containing bank account numbers are taken during a break-in.

Many business owners aren’t aware of the costs associated with a data breach – or the actions they may need to take to address the liabilities they face when their paper or virtual records are lost or stolen. If you collect or store any personally identifiable information on employees or clients, you should consider data breach coverage.

The Hartford’s data breach program offers coverage to help pay for the costs associated with notifying impacted individuals, as well as managing public relations, good faith advertising and legal liability expenses. Customers also have access to services that can help reduce the likelihood of a breach and assistance to help navigate a breach if one occurs.
 

Did you know you could be sued for bodily injury or property damage caused by a vehicle not owned by your business but used for company business? This can include a rented or hired vehicle.

How could this happen?

  • An employee, using their own vehicle, hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk while picking up office supplies for your business.
  • You rent a vehicle to attend a real estate conference and rear-end another car, causing damage to the other vehicle and injuring the driver.
  • An employee, using their own car, hits a telephone pole while on their way to show a property.

The fact is, personal auto policies generally don’t provide coverage when a vehicle being used for business purposes is involved in an accident. If you or your employees use your personal vehicles for business, you probably need Non-Owned / Hired Car coverage.

*For businesses without owned or long-term leased vehicles that need to be covered on a Business Auto policy.

Think about the types of documents and records your real estate business creates and stores: sales contracts, financial affidavits, deeds, leases, real estate listing agreements, employee files, and more. The list is endless.

Think about the impact if:

  • There was a fire in your building and the water used to put it out damaged important real estate records.
  • Your office sprinkler system malfunctioned, causing water to seep into your file cabinets, damaging receipts and other records.

Valuable Papers and Records coverage can help pay to reproduce important documents, provide temporary storage and move records to avoid a loss.
 

Optional Employee Coverages

Real estate agents and managers handle a great deal of sensitive personal information, including social security and bank account numbers. That means employee theft can pose significant risk to your business.

Imagine what could happen if:

  • Your employee uses the sensitive, valuable information in a client’s file to steal funds.
  • An employee enters a fake vendor into your payables system and begins cutting checks to that vendor that the employee ultimately cashes?

Employee Dishonesty coverage helps compensate you for financial loss resulting from the fraudulent acts of an employee or a group of employees.
 

It’s almost impossible to sell or manage a building alone. That’s why you depend on a team of experienced employees. The benefits you provide to your employees help keep them engaged and motivated to do great work.

However, errors in administering your employee benefits could be costly. Have you thought about what could happen if your benefits administrator fails to enroll an eligible employee in a group health plan, and the employee is later denied coverage due to a pre-existing health condition? You, the employer, could be held responsible for the employee’s healthcare costs – and maybe more.

Employee Benefits Liability Coverage helps protect your business if you are sued for an error or omission related to the administration of your employee benefits program, including your group health insurance.
 

As a small business owner, you likely see your employees as extended family. You may even employ members of your family. So that must mean you’re safe from employee lawsuits, right? Actually, they can happen to anyone – and the financial repercussions can be hefty, whether you win or lose.

You could find yourself the target of an employment-related lawsuit, for example, if:

  • A former employee claims he was wrongfully terminated.
  • A current employee files a complaint claiming she was denied a promotion because she is the primary caregiver for her two children.

Also keep in mind that you don’t need to do anything wrong to be sued. And whether you’ve done something wrong or not, you need to defend yourself and defense costs can be staggering. The Hartford’s Business Owner’s Policy provides $10,000 of EPL coverage, but many small business owners purchase more -- up to $1MM with The Hartford.1 And when you purchase additional coverage, you’ll have access to:

  • The Jackson Lewis Helpline which includes, among other services, access to live legal advice on employment practices and procedures. 2
  • HartfordHelp.com, a proprietary website providing access to a host of employment practices resources.

1 Employment Practices Liability coverage is not available in all states or to all types of businesses. The $10,000 limit applies to business written in Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd. A $5,000 limit applies to business written in all other Spectrum Business Owner’s Policy class plans. The EPL coverage described herein does not apply to EPL coverage written in California. There is no built in EPL coverage in Minnesota or New York. Limits up to $1MM are available to policies written in Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd. Limits up to $500,000 are available to business written in all other underwriting companies. Limits above $1,000,000 may be available through a separate Hartford policy.

2 Jackson Lewis is one of the largest law firms in the country specializing in employment law and related categories. The Help Line is not a substitute for the retention of legal counsel to obtain ongoing legal advice on specific problems, such as adverse personnel actions. Rather, it is designed to provide quick answers to basic or general questions. Inquiries that may require extensive research, review of personnel documentation or preparation of personnel policies or forms are beyond the scope of the Help Line service. The Hartford and Jackson Lewis LLP disclaim all liability with respect to any information provided during a Help Line call and/or any of the services described above. Please be aware that accessing the services described above will not constitute the filing of a notice of claim.

Stretching Your Dollar

It doesn’t have to be expensive to get valuable extra coverage for your real estate agency or property management business. It’s possible to stretch your dollar through our Stretch® endorsements. For real estate and property management businesses, we offer:

  • Basic Stretch
  • Super Stretch
  • Super Stretch for Business Services

These industry-focused endorsements bundle key coverages for real estate businesses, providing a cost-effective solution that helps take the guesswork out of selecting the coverage that’s just right for your business.
 

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Workers’ Compensation

  Rated 4.8/5 by Small Business Owners (817 Reviews)

If you have one or more employees, you probably need workers' compensation ("workers' comp") insurance – most states require it. Without it, you may be held personally liable for the cost of your employees' medical care for a work-related injury or illness and even their wages while they’re recovering. Not to mention, some states have laws with fines for failing to purchase coverage.

The laws vary by state, but full-time and part-time employees are generally covered by workers' comp. In some states, business owners, partners and officers must be covered too. Also, keep in mind that the definition of "employee" can vary by state. If you use subcontractors, it’s important to find out whether they’re considered employees. If you've issued your sub, or anyone else, a 1099, they may be eligible for coverage under your workers' comp policy.

Workers' comp provides benefits to your employees for work-related injuries or illnesses. And depending on the state you do business in, it could include medical care, wages from lost work time, rehab, disability benefits and survivor or death benefits. And, if one of your workers gets hurt on the job and their family decides to sue you, workers' comp can help you with related legal fees and more.

Providing workers' comp coverage for more than a century, The Hartford's program sets the standard for value, innovation and injured worker care.

Business Auto

  Rated 4.6/5 by Small Business Owners (213 Reviews)

For some, a Business Auto policy conjures up images of a fleet of vehicles at the beck and call of a real estate mogul. The truth is, you may need a Business Auto policy for vehicles used in the typical operation of your business. This could include vehicles used to:

  • Visit properties or to deliver closing documents.
  • Run errands to pick up the mail, office supplies, lunch for an important client meeting, or to make a deposit at the bank.

And, if you or your employees use a personal vehicle for these types of activities, consider that personal auto policies generally don’t provide coverage when a personally-owned vehicle, used for business purposes, is involved in an accident. Not sure if you need a Business Auto policy? An insurance agent – or a representative from The Hartford – can help you decide.

The Hartford’s Business Auto policy includes 19 coverage enhancements, without separate elections or additional premium charges. And, features like our Fender Bender and Accident Forgiveness programs help keep premiums low.
 

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