Whether you’re a furniture repair professional restoring your clients’ antique armoire, a computer repair technician with a desktop in your shop, or a dog walker, your clients expect you to take good care of their possessions while they’re in your custody and control.
If you have to take possession of your clients’ belongings, there’s always a risk that something might happen to them while they are under your care. As a small business owner, you want to be sure that you’re financially covered against losses in these situations.
Understanding the concept of care, custody, and control (CCC) can help protect you from liability if something happens to your clients’ property when it’s in your care—be it an antique clock or a pet.

Care, custody, and control is insurance-speak for when you have to take someone’s property into your place of business. It can also refer to you damaging real estate (like a wall in a client’s house) or personal property (like a television) while you are working on a client’s premises, but here we’ll focus on what you need to know when you have others’ property in your possession.
Property is under your care, custody, and control when it’s in your shop or vehicle (or on the street, if you’re a dog walker). Once a client drops off a violin at a repair shop, the repair shop is usually liable for any accidental damage.
Although you might think that your general liability insurance policy automatically covers these kinds of situations, this may not always be the case.

General liability insurance is designed to protect your small business against third-party claims of bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage.
In the following scenarios, your insurance would likely cover your business’ third-party property damage:

  • You’re a tutor visiting a client’s home. Should you spill your coffee on a stark-white rug, your client could expect you to pay the cost of the cleaning or repair.
  • You’re an artisan attending a farmers’ market. While setting up your station, you work in close quarters with several other vendors. Should you knock over one of their speakers, they could expect you to pay for repair or replacement.

In these cases, you damaged a client’s (or other third party’s) property that was not under your care or custody. Your work had nothing to do with the rug, and you weren’t in charge of the other vendor’s speaker. This means your general liability insurance should likely cover the costs of these damages.
There are some cases in which your general liability insurance may not cover damage to a client’s property, however. If you run a housekeeping business and an employee breaks an item, your company could be liable for replacement or repair. Your protection depends on whether or not your policy has a care, custody, and control exclusion. If your general liability policy has one, you may be paying for some of these expenses on your own.

An insurance exclusion is a provision in your policy that excludes a certain kind of risk from your coverage. Care, custody, and control exclusions mean that your policy doesn’t cover damage to property that occurs while—as you might imagine—the property is in your care, custody, and control.
Each of these three words has a different meaning in this insurance exclusion:

  • Care is when your client’s property is temporarily in your possession.
  • Custody is your responsibility to keep that property safe while it’s under your care.
  • Control refers to the power you have over the property when it’s under your care and custody.

If your insurance excludes damage to property under your care, custody, and control, you most likely won’t be covered if a client’s property is damaged while in your possession. However, your policy most likely will not provide coverage if any part of the property must be restored, repaired, or replaced because of an error in your work.
Because that’s a business risk, it is part of your cost of doing business and often not insurable. If you aren’t sure whether your insurance carries an exclusion for damage to property in your care, custody or control, it’s worth verifying what is in your coverage.
Should you find that your policy does have this exclusion, you might want to consider purchasing bailee’s customer insurance, too.

Bailee’s customer insurance is a type of inland marine insurance that provides coverage for loss or damage to property in your care, custody or control. Here’s some important information about bailee’s customer insurance:

  • The bailor is a person who owns a piece of property.
  • The bailee is the person who has temporary custody of the bailer’s property and is expected to return it. They “hold it in bailment”.
  • Bailee’s customer insurance covers most damages caused by the bailee to the bailer’s property.

The name “inland marine insurance” is deceiving: it isn’t just for boats in dry dock. Instead, think of inland marine insurance as a broad category of property insurance covering movable items.

Any business that cares for their customers’ property should make sure they have adequate coverage for items in their care, custody, and control. There are a few ways you can ensure that you’re covered adequately:
Suppose you don’t have a general liability policy or are shopping for a new business insurance policy. In that case, you can get a general liability policy that does not exclude coverage for damage to items in your care, custody and control. For example, Thimble’s Cleaning Business Insurance and our Pet Business Insurance automatically come with this coverage.
If you have a general liability policy you like, you could add this coverage (if your insurer provides it). Thimble offers Customer Property Protection as an endorsement on many general liability policies. It covers damage you’re responsible to personal property in your care, custody, or control.
Whether you’re looking for a new policy to cover your liability for damage to a client’s property, or you want to understand your existing coverage better, Thimble has the answer. With more than 140 covered professions, we’re the go-to for small business owners seeking general liability insurance and professional liability insurance.
Our policies are so flexible because you can tailor them to your needs. Choose a policy by the hour, day, or month, and only pay for insurance when you need it.
It takes less than 60 seconds to get covered. Click “Get a Quote” here or download the Thimble app, answer a few questions, and voila! You have your free quote. From there, click to purchase, and we’ll send your policy and Certificate(s) of Insurance to your email inbox.

Clients expect you to take great care of their possessions. Unfortunately, a single damaged item could lead to a lawsuit and a substantial financial toll on your business.
When your clients’ personal property is in your hands, protect yourself from liability by understanding care, custody, and control:

  • Remember that many insurers exclude damage to property that is in the insured’s care, custody, and control.
  • Make sure to find out whether your general liability has an exclusion that would provide coverage for property damage to clients’ property.
  • If not, get covered with inland marine insurance or an optional CCC endorsement to your liability insurance coverage.
    Now, go out and keep making magic with your business.