When starting a staffing company, it is important to note that before you send out your first temporary employee, you must have adequate business insurance in order to conduct business. At a bare minimum, you will have to purchase Worker’s Compensation and General Liability Insurance. On top of those insurances, it would be a good idea to consider buying a G/L policy that will also include Professional Liability Coverage, as well as Errors & Omissions (E&O) coverages. The biggest challenge a staffing agency owner may face could be identifying an insurance company that truly understands the staffing industry.
Unless you are working with someone who understands your business, you will spin your wheels in trying to secure proper insurances. The challenge with underwriting an insurance policy for a staffing company is the fact that you are or will be sending out temps or contract employees to remote, 3rd party client sites, which can cause you to lose direct control over those employees.
If those employees worked on-site every day at your office location, the risk would be easier to assess. However, in the staffing world, your direct employees work at client locations, which adds risk from an insurance company’s perspective. Insurance companies have a larger underwriting task when taking into effect that your employees may be asked to perform certain tasks at a client location that you may not otherwise ask them to perform if they were on-site at your office.
I would imagine researching insurance companies, finding the right company and insurance policies to purchase, then actually purchasing the policy would be about as much fun as making a trip to the dentist. Both are quite necessary, but not much fun. However, if you don’t have insurance for your staffing business, you will not be able to operate your company.
How do you know just how much insurance to purchase, and what types are right for your firm? You don’t want to be over-insured, but you certainly don’t want to be under-insured either. Once you find the right insurance partner that understands YOUR staffing business, ask them to recommend coverage amounts and types of policies. If you already have staffing clients in place, or if you have potential clients you will be doing business with, ask them to send you their standard staffing contract. More than likely, your client will have a section in their contract that will cover insurances, and how much and what types you need to have in order to do business with them.
Keep in mind, your clients want to deflect as much insurance risk on to you as possible. They would prefer to have zero risk in having your employees work on-site at their location. If a potential client is asking for more insurance coverage than you will be able to pay premiums for, you may consider trying to renegotiate their contract, or consider foregoing that business. It may not be worth the extra premium dollars you will pay in order to pick up the staffing business. However, if the margins are large enough, and you feel certain the client will utilize your services for a long-term period, you should consider upping the insurances to grow your business.
As a start-up staffing company, you may have no choice but to purchase your Worker’s Compensation insurance from a State Fund, rather than from a private insurance company. The laws are different in each state, but when you speak to your insurance agent, find out if private insurance is available for Workers Comp, due to the fact that it may be less expensive to purchase than from the State.
Also, you will either have to estimate your payroll or sales/revenue in order to get a quote on your insurances. I would be prepared to have a projected figure in mind. Don’t over-estimate payroll or sales because you may end up paying more each month in premiums during the first year, which could eat up profits from the business. Also, don’t under-estimate because you may be hit with a major one-time premium at the end of the year due to withholding less during the year. It’s a tricky calculation, but hopefully your agent can assist you in your calculations.
By Andrew Fisher