West Virginia, also known as the “Mountain State,” is the only state in the nation that falls completely within the Appalachian range. Ensconced within these scenic vistas are countless cities and towns, teeming with life and opportunity.
No matter what industry you’re in, West Virginia is an intriguing place to start an enterprise, particularly a small business. Currently, small businesses account for 98.9% of all companies within the state. But to fully participate in the West Virginian economy, you’ll first need insurance. To that end, today, we’ll review both the required and suggested insurance policies that your West Virginia business needs to thrive!
West Virginia business insurance requirements
Businesses operating in West Virginia may be subject to legal requirements for business insurance, across industries, if they rely on employees or vehicles for work. The two types of insurance that your WV business might be legally required to obtain are:
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Auto liability insurance
These requirements correspond to similar ones in most other states. In addition to legally required coverages that apply to your business, you may also need (or want) to secure one or more complementary coverages, like general or professional liability insurance.
We’ll touch more on this below. But first, let’s talk about the basic requirements.
Workers’ compensation insurance
West Virginia maintains relatively strict workers’ comp requirements for businesses. Specifically, the default rule in West Virginia is that all employers with any employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance, unless they meet specific criteria for exemption.1
This differs from other states, where the requirement is contingent on certain criteria. In particular, the exemption criteria from workers’ comp coverage in West Virginia include:2
- Certain types of independent contractors
- Workers deemed “casual”
- Domestic servants and workers
- Having five or fewer agricultural workers
- Workers involved in professional sports
Outside of these (and a few other) exemption criteria, your business likely needs to carry workers’ compensation insurance if you have at least one part- or full-time employee.3 If you don’t have any employees, these regulations for workers’ compensation coverage may not apply to your business.
Auto insurance for businesses
In West Virginia, almost everyone who owns or operates a vehicle is required to follow mandatory compulsory insurance requirements established by the state.4 However, just because you use your vehicle for work, doesn’t mean you always need a personal and commercial auto policy. It comes down to what your vehicle is used for, the size, and who owns the vehicle.
At the simplest level, if your business directly owns a vehicle, you need a commercial auto insurance policy. Additionally if your vehicle is larger than a small car, van, or truck, most likely a commercial auto policy is required. If a vehicle you personally own is used for essential business functions, like regularly delivering your products to consumers or driving other people, you also need commercial auto insurance. However, if you use a car you personally own for business needs only incidentally, such as driving to and from jobs, your personal auto insurance might suffice.
For example, if the only reason you need your car for business is to travel to and from gigs, you likely won’t need a commercial auto policy. As with everything insurance, the details matter. Make sure you talk with your insurance agent to be sure on what type of auto liability coverage you need.
Other types of West Virginia business insurance
The bare necessities for insuring your West Virginia business may include a combination of workers’ comp and auto insurance. But these are hardly the only types of coverages you’re likely to need. In order to safeguard your business and build a healthy foundation, you’ll want to exceed the minimums.
In particular, your business will likely benefit from one or more of the following:
- General liability insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Inland marine insurance (aka equipment insurance)
Depending on your industry, you actually might be required to carry some of these coverages. And, whether or not state or local laws requires them, your clientele might expect or even demand that you do. Or, you might gain a competitive advantage by doing so.
Typically, the most important kinds of additional coverages are also the most basic: general and professional liability, the first two listed above.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
General liability insurance in West Virginia
One of the most essential forms of business insurance, in West Virginia and anywhere, is general liability. It’s especially important for businesses that involve risky practices or environments, such as those found in construction work.
But any workplace can be hazardous—one spilled coffee, and an unassuming office floor can be just as dangerous as the oil-slicked ground in an auto garage.
If a client or other third party is harmed because of your work or on your work site, they may file a third-party claim of:
- Bodily injury
- Property damage
- Personal and advertising injury
In these cases, your general liability policy may provide investigation and defense of these claims; they can also cover some or all of the damages or settlement payments.
General liability pertains to third-party injuries and property damage, not damage to your own (first party) belongings.
So, how do you ensure that your important equipment or items you use for work are protected? For that, you’ll need to add on additional coverage called inland marine insurance – or in simpler terms, Business Equipment Protection (BEP).
With Thimble, we make it easy to protect your tools and equipment by bundling BEP with our monthly general liability plans. So, if you want to make sure your work items are protected from vandalism, theft, or damage, this optional add-on might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Professional liability insurance in West Virginia
For the businesses in West Virginia and elsewhere that depend upon lending their expertise, professional liability insurance might be a necessary addition to your standard general liability coverage. If your business model is delivering expert advice or specialized services to clients, you run the risk of getting sued. If a client alleges that your advice caused their financial loss, you could be in for an expensive legal case, whether or not their claim is true
Professional liability insurance can provide investigation, defense, and cover some or all of the payments required for damages or settlements. In particular, these coverages pertain to third-party claims of financial loss as a result of:
- An error in the course of your work
- Failure to provide the service
- A lapse in your professionalism
For some businesses, a form of professional liability or errors and omissions (E&O) coverage may be legally required—this is often the case for doctors and lawyers. But even if it isn’t required, it can be a wise investment. One lawsuit could directly impact your ability to operate.
Why take that risk?
How to get West Virginia business insurance
To get your business started on the right foot in the “Mountain State”, you’ll want to make sure you satisfy any applicable legal requirements for insurance. If you have employees or vehicles, you may need workers’ compensation coverage or auto liability insurance.
In addition, there might even be a requirement for your business to carry general and/or professional liability insurance. And even if there isn’t, these types of coverages help you protect your business from life’s surprises (like an injured client or third party, for example).
Here at Thimble, our mission is simplifying insurance for small businesses. We offer on-demand, affordable general and professional liability insurance policies customized to your business’ needs.
To keep costs low, we empower you to buy insurance that only works when you do—by the hour, day, or month. That means you’re only ever paying for what you need. Looking for small business insurance in West Virginia?
You found it.
- West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner. Information Letter #201 About Exemption from WC Insurance Coverage.
- West Virginia Legislature. West Virginia Code: Chapter 23. Workers’ Compensation.
- West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner. Mandatory Compulsory Insurance Requirements.
Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.