Written by Nikola Pantchev
As a business leader taking first steps to enter the U.S. market, you have questions that need answering. It’s important to know what type of business structure you’ll form and what type of visa your Finnish employees need. You’ll research where your customers are across the country and how cultural differences affect marketing campaigns. These are typical issues any company must consider when expanding into unfamiliar territory.
One question, however, that’s often not asked or considered until it’s too late is, “Does insurance matter?” Does our company need it? What kind? How much?
Amcham got answers by speaking with Susan Combs, CEO of Combs & Company insurance brokerage. Susan founded her company in 2005 and has grown it to include two NYC offices and six team members. She believes in making the insurance process efficient and excellent for every client.
The United States is known by some as being a place where companies may get sued on a regular basis. And while businesses won’t get sued without a reason, it’s crucial to be prepared with appropriate insurance.
You may think your company can extend its Finnish insurance policy to cover the U.S., yet Susan told us many foreign policies dictate that legal disputes must be solved in the home country’s court system and won’t cover legal costs in the U.S. or it will be significantly more expensive. Local is cheaper.
But unlike the Finnish insurance systems, America has an incredibly high number of providers, policies, brokers and agents. The options can be confusing and overwhelming.
Combs explained that an insurance agent represents only one provider and their aim is to sell you their insurance service. A broker like Susan, however, is an unbiased insurance professional who knows about all policy offerings of different providers and will be on your side.
Combs also said that foreign companies usually don’t know what they need. “You don’t know what you don’t know”. For example, the most common policies for companies are General Liability and Errors & Omissions policies. Foreign employees formerly receiving free or subsidized healthcare from the Finnish government will also require health insurance.
A broker is responsible for learning your business operations to find out what types of coverage you need. The process usually starts with a simple analysis of your company’s website to identify potential risks. Then you’ll discuss the business one-on-one for a thorough understanding of what your company does and how.
Amcham asked about which insurances companies will need when setting up an office in the U.S., but it isn’t so easy to answer. Each state has its own laws which impact what kind of insurance you’ll require, making the American marketplace very different from its Finnish counterpart. In addition, prices and coverage vary drastically depending on policy reach and provider.
Susan says, “don’t spend money just to spend money.”
Selling your own products and services will take enough of your time, energy and financial resources. You should always let a broker help you select the best policy for your company’s unique needs and examine your insurance contract before signing it. To get comprehensive insurance protection for the lowest cost in the quickest time, reach out to a professional broker with local experience.
If you’d like to learn more about insurance best practices in the U.S., get in touch with Susan herself. Visit her business website at https://combsandco.com/.