The Old Line State is unique for the sheer diversity of its natural and cultural features. Prosperous cities are flanked by nearly every kind of terrain found in the US. This is why Maryland is known as “America in miniature.” That diversity is mirrored in its business climate, making it a great place to start or move a business. Per a Small Business Association profile, 115,000 of Maryland’s minority residents are self-employed, a rate higher than many other states. The overall economic growth rate of 2.5% in the last quarter of 2019 is also better than the country-wide rate. Thus, Maryland is a great place to be a small business owner. And to successfully conduct a great business, you need small business insurance.

How to get Maryland business insurance

Insurance in Maryland is overseen and regulated by the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA). Founded in 1872, The MIA exists to guide all Marylanders and ensure equity across coverages—that goes for both personal and business insurance (which the MIA calls commercial insurance). While you don’t get business insurance directly from the MIA, it does specify what particular coverages you’ll need to purchase. As with many states across the US, the required coverages, are as follows:

  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Auto insurance

This guide will first walk you through what you need to do to satisfy these two requirements. Then, we’ll dive into other coverages to consider beyond what’s required. Finally, we’ll explain how to simplify all your Maryland business insurance needs.

Workers’ compensation insurance

Like almost every other state in the US, Maryland requires any employer with one or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Although this requirement is present in every state but Texas, the specific rules and regulations do vary state by state. In Maryland, workers’ compensation is handled jointly by the MIA and the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC). All businesses with one or more employees are required to carry it, with a few exceptions:

  • Sole proprietors and members of a partnership.
  • Non-employee owners and members of an LLC.
  • Agricultural employers with:
    • Fewer than three regular employees
    • An annual payroll of less than $15,000 dollars

Per the WCC’s guidance for employers, failure to carry workers’ compensation in Maryland can lead to a fine of up to $10,000 dollars. In addition, attempts to offload costs for workers’ compensation onto employees can be considered a crime. When a worker is hurt or becomes ill on the job, his or her physical illness or injury can often lead to financial harm—to themselves and to your company. Workers’ compensation helps to protect employers from the costs this double impact can cause.

Auto insurance

The other kind of insurance you need to secure in Maryland (and any state for that matter) is auto liability coverage. Just because you use your car for work doesn’t mean you have to have a separate commercial auto insurance policy. (You know, insurance makes things super simple). It comes down to what your vehicle is used for, the size of vehicle, how the vehicle is titled and if it’s a core function of your job. If you only use your vehicle to travel to and from job sites and don’t carry passengers or property, your personal auto policy may cover you. However, if you transport goods or people or the vehicle is titled in your business name, you likely need a commercial auto policy. For example, a pressure washer uses his small van to travel to and from different job sites. In this case his personal auto policy may well be sufficient as the core function of his job is the pressure washing, not driving to and from locations. On the other hand, a catering business depends on their van for deliveries to client events and their van is used to transport their goods. In this case, they need a commercial auto policy. As a business owner you never want to assume you’re covered. Make sure to talk to your auto policy provider to make sure you’re protected.

Recommended Maryland business insurance

Covering all the bases when it comes to what’s required under Maryland law is a great first step. However, it shouldn’t be the end of your quest to insure your business. In addition to what’s technically required of all (or most) businesses, there are also other cases in which your business may need to carry liability insurance. Local rules specific to the city or township you’re in may require businesses in your industry to carry liability coverage. Or there may be a business need for it—clients and customers may expect you to carry liability coverage, otherwise they won’t hire you for your services. Or you may find that you want to protect your business property. The kinds of coverage you choose depend on the kind of business you are: General liability insurance – provides investigation, defense, and settlement for third-party claims related to:

  • Third-party bodily injury
  • Third-party damage to property
  • Advertising and personal injury

Professional liability insurance – protects you should a client claim your professional advice resulted in a financial loss. It can cover the defense and investigation related to client claims concerning real or alleged negligence as well as errors and omissions. (Why it’s also referred to as errors and omissions insurance). Equipment insurance – if you use any equipment for your job, it’s important to protect your investment, regardless if it’s a shovel or top-of-the-line camera. Make sure you read the fine print and understand what exactly is covered. With Thimble, Business Equipment Protection is a blanket coverage as opposed to scheduled coverage. Why does this matter? You do not have to specifically list an item whose value is less than $2,500. Even if there’s no rule or expectation that you carry these other coverages, robust insurance can provide a competitive business advantage. It also allows you to work with the peace of mind you deserve.

How to get Maryland small business insurance

Understanding what type and how much business insurance you need can be unclear. But it doesn’t have to be! At Thimble, we believe that business insurance should be simple, accessible, and affordable for all businesses. That’s why we’ve revolutionized general liability and professional liability insurance with customizable plans tailored to the exact needs and means of your business. With Thimble, you can purchase insurance by the hour, day or week. Get insurance that works when you do so you can save money and focus on growing your business. Taking out insurance is a breeze. Just click on “Get a Quote,” or download the Thimble mobile app, then answer a few simple questions. From there, we’ll generate an instant quote. With one last click, you can purchase your insurance and have your policy and Certificates of Insurance (COI) sent directly to your email inbox. It’s insurance made simple. It’s Thimble. By now, you should understand the Maryland business insurance framework. To quickly recap: These are the two types of insurance policies that you might be legally required to take out:

  • Workers’ compensation insurance (if you have any employees)
  • Auto insurance

You should consider additional baseline coverages:

  • General liability insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Equipment insurance

Regardless of what type of insurance you need, make sure it’s tailored to the specifics of your company. After all there’s no point paying for insurance you don’t need when you could use that money to grow your business.