Business Insurance Is Non-Negotiable
Nancy Hiller's livelihood is almost entirely dependent on her shop, and while insurance premiums are expensive she can't afford to not pay them
While taking a rare spin through Facebook one day last week I was stopped in my tracks by an image of a building that had collapsed in a smoky pile against a dark night sky. A couple of furniture makers had lost their shop to fire in the middle of the night. They hadn’t even known the shop was on fire until they were awakened by a sheriff’s deputy beating on the door of their house.
Although I can’t claim this couple are friends, I met them briefly while serving as a judge at an art fair a few years ago. Their work was beautiful, the product of 40 years as professional furniture makers.
Someone had set up a fundraising site on their behalf in response to the fire. I clicked the link and read more, then came to the following two words: “No insurance.” I felt sick to my stomach.
I don’t know whether that statement was true. The next time I checked the site, the comment about not having insurance was gone. I sincerely hope these people had business insurance, and I’m writing this post to urge anyone who doesn’t have it to contact a reputable insurance agent and arrange for it today.
I’m no shill for the insurance industry. I simply appreciate that buying insurance constitutes a sharing of risk. Even if you have good coverage, any fire that destroys your entire shop is going to cause enormous pain: loss of income until your business is back up and running, which could easily take months; the loss of finished work that may have been ready for shows, as well as works in progress; the loss of your tools and machinery, materials in inventory, business records (if you keep them in your shop), and more.
No insurance will cover everything. Not only are deductibles a fact of life; many of us also have shop cats, as this couple did. Even with insurance coverage, this kind of loss is devastating. But without it?
Yes, insurance premiums can be costly. Fire risk increases with distance from fire stations, buildings constructed of flammable materials, and other factors. Some situations are not even insurable—for example, my insurance company will not cover a shop that contains a wood stove. But is coverage worth the cost? As someone whose livelihood is almost entirely dependent on her shop, I would say that if I can’t afford the premiums, I can’t afford to be in business.
Nancy Hiller is a professional cabinetmaker who has operated NR Hiller Design, Inc. since 1995. Her most recent books are English Arts & Crafts Furniture and Making Things Work, both available at Nancy’s website.
More on FineWoodworking.com:
- Loose-pin butt hinges: a little play may be better than none by Nancy R. Hiller
- Facing Failure- Some go so far as to claim that failure is the key to success, but things are a little trickier when you’re faced with failure of your own.
Consulting With Prospective Clients – Nancy Hiller
- Nancy Hiller’s Reality Check(list) – If you’re thinking of turning your passion into a profession you should take a deep look at what is involved in running a legitimate business.