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The 10 most common and most costly business insurance claims

When small businesses obtain an insurance policy, they hope never to have to think about it again. Unfortunately, claims occur more frequently than many business owners expect. According to a study by The Hartford, a financial services company, 40 percent of small businesses will incur a property or liability loss in the next 10 years.

If they might not be unavoidable, what kind of insurance claims can business expect? What are the most common types of claims? And what are the most costly? The Hartford attempted to answer these questions by examining claims data for more than one million small-business insurance policies from 2010 to 2014.

Based on analysis from The Hartford's study, below are the 10 most common business insurance claims. Percentages of the total number of claims are in parenthesis:

  1. Burglary and theft (20%)
  2. Water and freezing damage (15%)
  3. Wind and hail damage (15%)
  4. Fire damage (10%)
  5. Customer slip-and-falls (10%)
  6. Other customer injury and damage (Less than 5%)
  7. Product liability (Less than 5%)
  8. Struck by an object (Less than 5%)
  9. Reputational harm (Less than 5%)
  10. Vehicle accidents (Less than 5%)

This data provides some insight into what types of claims business owners can expect. Claim frequency is only one aspect business owners need to consider. It is also important to understand what claims are the most costly. Below are the same 10 categories as above, ranked highest to lowest according to highest cost:

  1. Reputational harm ($50,000)
  2. Vehicle accident ($45,000)
  3. Fire damage ($35,000)
  4. Product liability ($35,000)
  5. Customer injury or damage ($30,000)
  6. Wind and hail damage ($26,000)
  7. Customer slip-and-falls ($20,000)
  8. Water and freezing damage (17,000)
  9. Struck by an object ($10,000)
  10. Burglary and theft ($8,000)

Although analysis from a different insurer may yield different results, The Hartford's data can help small businesses to concentrate efforts to control losses.

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