In New Jersey, business owners and landlords have new liability insurance requirements to keep in mind that were enacted in November 2022. These regulations ensure that any injuries, deaths or damage occurring on your commercial or rental properties are adequately covered financially.
While increased liability limits and registration procedures may seem an extra hassle, they are prudent safeguards. Requiring at least $500,000 in coverage (with exceptions) will provide comprehensive protection for anyone affected should an accident or incident happen.
What Are the New Coverage Limits for Liability Insurance in New Jersey?
New Jersey business owners and landlords now have additional legal requirements for liability insurance coverage. According to regulations that went into effect on November 3, 2022, liability policies must provide at least $500,000 in combined coverage for property damage, bodily injury, and wrongful death resulting from negligent acts on the insured property.
In the case of smaller multi-family homes consisting of four units or less, if the owner occupies one unit, a minimum of $300,000 in liability coverage will fulfill the mandate.
These increased requirements aim to provide comprehensive financial protection and security, as previous minimums left more opportunity for high out-of-pocket costs even with legitimate claims.
The increased $500,000 liability requirements went into effect 90 days after the law passed for new policies and 180 days for renewals of existing policies. The latter also applies to the $300,000 limits for multi-family homes.
What Other Requirements Are There?
In addition to significantly increasing liability minimums, the new requirements mandate annual registration of insurance details with the local municipality for all businesses, rental properties and multi-family homes. Therefore, you must provide a certificate of insurance demonstrating that your current liability coverage amounts comply with the new regulations.
Municipalities can charge property owners a nominal, reasonable fee for processing the registration of properties within their jurisdiction. Registration aims to provide municipalities with records confirming that business owners and landlords have fulfilled their responsibilities to adequately protect public health, safety, welfare and property.
It also verifies that funds have been allocated to afford wrongful death, injury, damage or loss up to the mandated minimum. The registration mandate takes effect 180 days following approval of the Act to provide time for policy renewals and ensure all properties have an opportunity to meet the new standards before responsibility and penalties apply.
Understanding the Consequences of Non-Compliance
While the new liability insurance requirements aim to ensure businesses and properties have adequate safeguards, non-compliance with these regulations does carry consequences.
Specifically, failure to maintain the mandated coverage limits of $500,000 (or $300,000 for smaller multi-family homes) or register proof of insurance annually with the municipality can result in administrative fines of $500 to $5,000 per violation. These penalties are in addition to any costs, expenses, or damages that could arise from an incident at an establishment lacking properly verified insurance coverage.
Choosing the Right Liability Insurance Policy
Now that New Jersey’s updated liability insurance requirements have taken effect, reviewing your coverage options is essential to ensure you choose policies that give you the protection you need without exceeding your budget. Here are some factors to implement when comparing policies:
- Minimum Coverage Amounts: Make sure the policy meets or exceeds the statutory minimums – at least $500,000 for most businesses and rental properties or $300,000 for small multi-family homes (one of which is owner-occupied). For higher-risk properties, increase coverage amounts accordingly.
- Comprehensive Coverage: Review the scope of coverage, including property damage, bodily injury, death, medical expenses, and loss of income or use. Additional coverages for injuries to customers or tenants and legal liability may also be relevant. Broad coverage will help minimize financial exposure in the event of an accident or incident.
- Reasonable Exclusions and Limitations: Understand any policy exclusions or limitations to avoid coverage gaps. Look for policies with minimal restrictions that still keep premiums at a reasonable level for your needs.
- Affordable Premiums and Deductibles: Determine how much you can spend on premiums and out-of-pocket deductibles while maintaining adequate reserves. Higher deductibles can lower your premiums but increase your financial responsibility for any claims. Find the right balance for your budget.
- Responsive Claims Process: The claims process is a vital portion of being covered; evaluate insurers’ procedures for reporting and handling claims promptly and fairly. Look for policies that allow for easily filing claims online, over the phone, or in person. Understand timelines for claims resolution and payment.
Finding a Trustworthy Liability Insurance Provider
Choosing the right insurance provider is an important factor for obtaining comprehensive yet cost-effective coverage and exceptional service if you file a claim. When comparing providers, consider the following:
- Financial Stability: Evaluate the financial ratings and stability of potential providers to confirm they will be able to fulfill their long-term obligations. While some instability is typical, abysmal ratings should raise concerns.
- Local Experience: When possible, work with providers with experience in your local area. They will better understand the particular risks and regulations that impact businesses and properties in your location.
- Flexibility and Customization: Seek providers that offer flexible, customizable policies tailored to your unique needs. Given the variability across properties, a one-size-fits-all approach likely will not provide optimal coverage.
- Customer Service: Identify providers that offer responsive, helpful service to address any questions or concerns. For liability coverage, excellent service in the event of a claim is especially important.
- Comparison and Value: Get quotes from multiple providers to evaluate options, determine the right balance of coverage and affordability, and spot the best overall value. Look for competitively priced premiums in comparison to the coverage provided.
Get Your Liability Insurance from JMG Insurance Agency
New Jersey law now requires liability insurance, but at JMG Insurance Agency, we believe great insurance means peace of mind, not just policy compliance. And, while the minimums mandated in the act may seem sufficient, we aim to provide you with the top-rated, most comprehensive policy tailored to your specific requirements and budget.
Get the liability insurance you need from the professionals at JMG Insurance Agency. Our team of expert agents will work with you to determine the best policy for your needs. Contact us today at 1-844-304-7332 or online to start protecting your business or property.