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Don’t go into locksmithing business without general liability insurance. Let me say that again for the folks in the back: Do not go into locksmithing business without general liability insurance! There. Now you know, so this post is over, right? Oh, I guess we should probably go over what exactly general liability insurance is, why you want it, why you might even be legal obligated to have it, and how it can, no will, save your ass if you stay in business long enough.

What the heck is General Liability Insurance?

General Liability Insurance covers your business assets. Basically, it is what it says it is, if your company can be held liable for any sort of damages — medical costs, property damage, etc — either because of things done on-site, or during a commuting work trip, you can pay for it out of your insurance instead of out of your pocket. This comes in extremely handy, especially if you work in the automotive field where the difference between getting a door unlocked or breaking the driver’s door window can be a single pump of the pillow, or a slightly colder temperature than you expected. Or during a residential visit when you ding up the door by using a pry bar, and get sued by the homeowner for the cost of a brand new house.

But do I really have to have it?

Yes, you do. Ignoring everything above, there are some states that have a law mandating that locksmiths maintain a certain amount of general liability insurance. The more focus people put on locksmiths, the more insurance starts to become an extremely important thing to have. It’s better to get it ahead of time, and be one step ahead of your competition. Or you can use it as a differentiator. Market the fact that you are 100% insured. Take pride in the fact that you have the insurance and you can use that pride to get more business than you pay for the insurance.

Even if your competition is required to have it as well.

Okay, but how is General Liability Insurance going to “save my ass”?

The fact is, you won’t go through your locksmithing business without ever doing at least minor damage to someone’s property. This will be accidental, because none of us here are stupid or psychotic. Except for you. You know who you are. 

Picture this. Karen, the stay-at-home housewife of 4 that heads up the PTA, happens to have locked herself out of her home with a roast cooking in the oven. Now, she calls you, and you head on over her way. She happens to have her ID on hand, so proof of identity isn’t an issue, so you get her to sign the paperwork, and get right to work. Karen is an exceptionally paranoid woman, and also a stickler, and tells you there is no way you are going to damage her door by using some brute force technique to get through. Instead, she tells you to “just do that lock picking thing that they do on the TV. It takes Neal Caffrey no time at all.”

So you do the lock picking thing, but Karen is rocking some high security locks, and breathing down your neck. You can’t seem to get the last pin to set, and your sweat is stinging your eyes. Your hands are shaking. She’s becoming more and more irritated. Suddenly, just as you feel the last pin set in place, and the core turns, you hear the faint, but obvious, sound of a smoke detector screaming out in the distance.

Karen’s roast….is ruined.

She rushes in, shuts the oven off, and sticks the smoldering pile of extremely expensive meat in the sink. She comes out, shoves the check in your hand, and slams her newly unlocked door right in your face.

The next day, when you stumble into your shop at a little passed 9, you see the light blinking on your old fashioned, but extremely inexpensive, answering machine. You hit play.

You listen as a man speaks to you from 2 hours in the past, detailing the incident at Karen’s, calling it unprofessional, completely unnecessary, especially when you had a pry bar completely evident, sitting right beside you the entire time. He makes it clear that his client is going to sue you for everything you have, and mentions something about cost of smoke damage repairs, as well as pain and suffering. Not to mention the cost to replace an over priced roast.

At first, you can’t believe it. You run through all the reasons why you took so long to pick the lock. All the ways it was Karen’s fault. But you know she’s going to win, because the Karen’s of the world always win.

You feel nervous. Upset. You begin to get a bit dizzy, and your heart starts to race. Your company won’t survive this. Karen really is going to take it all. And you’re going to have to go back to that rodeo clown job that you hated.

But then you remember the insurance. You rush to your office, ripping papers out of the large 5 drawer filing cabinet that has that one drawer on the bottom that you just can’t seem to get open. You know the paperwork is in here somewhere, but where? You go through the first drawer, but nothing. Then the second, same thing. Third, fourth. Nothing.

Then you remember. You’d stuck it in the bottom drawer the day after opening your shop, back when the filing cabinet actually worked. It had been stuck there, ever since. You tug on it. Kick it. Pull as hard as you can. But you just can’t get it open.

Then you remember it’s locked, you’re a locksmith, smack yourself and get the picks. You get the paperwork, call in the insurance claim, and within 24 hours Karen is placated with the cost of a nice dinner on the town, and your livelihood is no longer at stake.