Design with Liability in Mind Internet Crafters and Online Businesses

Online crafters, artisans, and online businesses have you thought about insurance for your business?
First let me say, there are many types of business insurance, liability, fire, flood, disability and loss of income, etc. There are also umbrella policies that cover a “package of risk” protection, for which an insurer estimates a probability of loss based on past history of claims in the industry, as a whole. This type of insurance or anticipation of the type of coverage you might need can be industry specific, geographically specific, risk specific, etc. Too, an umbrella policy is meant to maximize your coverage against loss, while keeping premiums low. Some business insurance policies from major insurers can be as low as $10 a month and cover for $100,000 or more in loss. Insurance provides protection for you and your business should a claim be filed against you. If you have a sole proprietorship (you’re an entrepreneur), or have a partnership, in a lawsuit filed against you, your home, vehicles, savings and personal assets could be taken to satisfy a monetary award given through the courts. This is why insurance is so important. Only, if your business is registered as a corporation, will your personal assets be “protected” from a judgement of a court of law. But even then, your business assets would still be liable. Profits, savings or other assets could be seized.

On the other hand, let say, with loss of income insurance, if for any number of reasons your business can’t function, hypothetically, because…

your supplier refuses to deliver goods you ordered due to a strike, or, there’s a flood and your inventory is damaged or lost, or, you manufactured a large supply of product for another business and they are unable to accept delivery…all these things things could constitute loss of your income according to your insurer and policy. And…do…read your policy. You could be paid for the actual dollar loss incurred. Thus in any event, as a person assuming liability, business insurance is a must the more your business grows.

Let me tell you, I have seen online artisans that have products, that are an accident waiting to happen.
Handmade rugs where the edges of the rug were way too thick, and would present a trip hazard. Handmade soaps that the acidity must be ensured to make sure a sensitive-skin consumer doesn’t get lye-based skin burns. Roman shades, which are covered by certain federal laws in the way they are manufactured to protect children from strangulation hazard, that are not being made according to law.

My opinion in the last instance is-ignorance. The merchants are not aware they have to manufacture these shades in a certain fashion. I, myself, lucked up on this information by doing research. I found a business that was teaching how to make Roman shades online, but I noticed she was using rings to attach the cord to the shade. I decided to look at another option I was already aware of, which is “ring tape.” With ring tape the cords are encased inside a strip of fabric and sewn to the Roman shade, eliminating any chance a child might become entangled in the cords. And even though this merchant says on her website she uses the government regulated method of attaching the cords to the Roman shades, on her Youtube video she says nothing of these hazards while teaching others how to make this product. So when making items, and teaching others to do so, liability attaches to you should a consumer or other person be harmed by one of your products.

Thus, as merchants we must educate ourselves as much as possible, not only to protect our business, but to protect the consumer public as well. As you are well aware, there are consumers, if harmed, who will not care that you are a small merchant or are a struggling mom-they’ll sue mercilessly, no matter the personal situation with the merchant. Not too long ago, I saw a clip from a movie where one car rear-ended another. The camera panned to the back of the car that was rear-ended. The license plate on that car said-“I SUE.” Then the camera showed the rear-ended driver getting out of his car, while putting on a neck brace. Yes, this scenario is accurate in the immediacy of those who can and will sue. So all in all, you work hard to build your business, protect it with insurance and do see a design engineer attorney if you have specialized products, like your own fabric line, soaps, vitamins, or even moreso tire rims, etc. Any product where you are making the baseline formulation, as opposed to buying ready made components that a larger manufacturer has already put under scrutiny. Larger manufacturers have attorneys, engineers and often have to abide by rigorous government regulations before putting a product on the market. So, this just more for you to consider. If you don’t have insurance, look into it as soon as possible. $10 a month could save you a lot of heartache.

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