Insuring Your Inn: What Kind of Policy is Best for
by Andi Silver, Markel Insurance Company
Innkeepers have many important business decisions to make. One of the most
important of these decisions is insurance. What kind of policy is right for
you? What coverage do you need? Is your current coverage adequate? How do
you find the best coverage for the best price?
You might be tempted to buy a homeowners policy to protect your B&B or inn,
especially if it has only a few rooms and also happens to be your home.
However, a homeowners’ policy generally won’t protect you if:
- A guest falls down your stairs, breaks an ankle, and sues you for
- Your business property is damaged.
- You lose income because you have to close your inn for three weeks
to make repairs.
- Wedding guests become ill after eating food you prepared.
Commercial insurance policies offer more comprehensive protection than the
typical homeowners’ policy. There are two main parts to a commercial policy:
property and liability. Property coverage protects your building, its
contents, and your phone and computer systems. Liability coverage protects
you if you’re sued, by providing lawyers to defend you in court, paying your
defense fees, and paying the settlement that a jury awards.
General liability (GL) is essential for any business. It protects you if
someone claims your negligence caused their physical injury or damaged their
There are other types of insurance to consider, depending on your business
- Commercial automobile covers the vehicles you use while conducting inn
- Special events insurance covers you if you host weddings, family reunions,
and other events at your inn.
- Business income insurance protects you if you lose income because your B&B
is temporarily out of operation due to a covered loss, like a fire.
- Products/completed operations insurance protects you if you do limited
catering, or operate a gift shop or restaurant.
- Umbrella liability provides extra protection for catastrophic events. Umbrella liability goes into effect after you’ve exceeded the limits of your
general or auto liability insurance.
- Flood insurance is an important coverage to consider if your inn is
located in an area prone to flooding. Most standard, commercial policies
will not cover you for flood-related water damage. You will need to buy a
separate flood insurance policy to get the proper protection.
Finding an Agent
Another important step in the insurance process is finding a commercial
insurance agent. Look for an agent who has experience insuring B&Bs and
inns, can explain the various coverage options available to you, and can
advise you on what’s right for your business. If you don’t have an agent,
ask other B&B owners for a recommendation. As your B&B or inn evolves, your
insurance needs may change, so choose an agent who can help you as your
Although the cost of insurance is often foremost in B&B owners’ minds, it
should not be the only factor on which you base your purchasing decision.
Before you buy an insurance policy, compare coverage, limits of liability,
deductibles, exclusions, and other policy terms. Make sure you’re comparing
apples to apples, and buy the policy that best protects you and your inn.
Another important consideration is the financial strength of the insurance
company you choose. Look for a reputable firm that independent insurance
analyst A.M. Best Company rates “A” or above. This means the company will
have money in the bank to pay your covered claims, whether they occur this
year or 10 years from now.
Commercial insurance protects your property and assets, and pays to defend
you if you are sued due to a covered loss. It also provides special coverage
that is unavailable with a typical homeowners policy, such as special events
liability. Your commercial insurance agent will be able to help you purchase
the right protection for your B&B or inn.
Andi Silver is manager of the B&B insurance program at Markel Insurance
Company in Richmond, Virginia. Markel specializes in insurance for B&Bs and
Insurance for B&Bs and Country Inns
Markel’s inn insurance program protects B&Bs with five or more rooms and
inns with 25 or fewer rooms. Here’s what you get when you choose Markel:
- Liability coverage: In addition to general and umbrella
liability, we offer coverage for special events, your gift shop, and
- Property coverage: We can protect your historic building
and unique property, your computer and phone systems, and your
heating/air conditioning systems. We can even cover your swimming
- Specialty coverage: We offer coverage endorsements
designed specifically for B&Bs and inns, such as our guests’
inconvenience expense endorsement and our specialty inns enhancement
endorsement, which includes personal liability.
- Superior claims service: Our in-house claims associates
handle claims promptly, fairly, and professionally.
- Expert insurance advisors: Our underwriters work with you
to create an insurance program to protect your business and keep it
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