Product Liability – A Look at Protecting the Consumer and Your Small Business

Product liability insurance coverage is intended to provide a financial safeguard from product liability risks for manufacturers and importers as well as for other product vendors along the supply chain.

Such policies protect against damage claims resulting from accidental property damage or bodily harm done by a product itself or a service that has been performed.

Another very similar policy that product manufacturers and importers typically also get is called product recall coverage. This type of coverage can help cover the cost of getting defective or contaminated products back in the case of a product recall.

Unfortunately, many business owners make the mistake and think their existing small business insurance policy will protect them or that they don’t need it.

Who Needs Products Liability Insurance Coverage

An easy way to think about who needs products liability insurance is: EVERYONE within the supply chain is at risk:

  • Designers and Engineers
  • Wholesalers and Distributors
  • Suppliers and Manufacturers
  • Importers and Exporters
  • Retailers (doesn’t matter if you are a small mom & pop shop, department store, or an e-Tailer with a Website)

Supply Chain Liability

When liability claims come up and a law-firm is hired, there is a good chance that they will go after everyone that has anything to do with the manufacturing, distribution, and selling of the product (regardless of who is actually at fault). Your business could just be the shipping and freight company and still be at risk! Even if you are found to be 100% innocent, you could still have very hefty legal fees occurred to defend yourself in court.

Risk management is something that all manufacturers, distributors, and product suppliers should think about BEFORE something bad happens.

What Product Liability Insurance Does NOT Cover

This type of business insurance coverage does not, however, protect against damage that is the result of intentional acts of a vendor or manufacturer or events that were foreseeable by insured parties.

It is also important to note that this type of coverage does not extend protection when it comes to liability for damages that are already under the umbrella of another contract or for which the vendor or manufacturer bears responsibility via disability statutes, unemployment compensation obligations or worker’s compensation law.

There are those who are of the opinion that expenses resulting from the purchase of products liability insurance ought to be an excludable cost because such coverage works to protect customers who might otherwise be held liable for damages caused due to how the manufacturers’ products are used.

Such manufacturers routinely argue that without such insurance coverage, customers would refuse to purchase their products. Thus, manufacturers contend that product liability coverage should properly be viewed as a delivery cost, given that it is essentially a prerequisite for any sales to occur.

The fact remains; however, that because costs pertaining to the transport of goods along the supply chain from maker to vendor are not considered to be directly related to the delivery of goods to the end customer in the sales transaction, they are not rightly excludable from the sales price for tax calculation purposes.

This type of insurance is typically bought by manufacturers in advance of the goods being shipped from a factory for eventual receipt by customers.

Just because customers are generally unwilling to accept things such as guns or other potentially dangerous items in the absence of a product liability policy, that does not mean that the cost of such coverage should be seen as an excludable expense related to the act of delivery itself.

The expense itself is not one that arises directly from the act of delivery to customers. For that reason, the cost of a product liability insurance policy is designated as an expense that pertains to manufacturing and/or sales, and is, therefore, not to be removed from the final price of shells, cartridges or firearms themselves.

As I am sure you would guess, product liability related settlements can be VERY expensive, especially if someone has a severe personal injury or even a death. Not having coverage can easily bankrupt your business so you should make sure you are fully protected from the many risks associated with your industry.

The bottom line is that product liability insurance coverage is something that exists to protect the manufacturer of a product as well as vendors down the line of distribution from liability claims.

Published by

Gemma-Leigh Garner

I'm a published author and direct response copywriter for a Web company in Austin, TX but also do freelance writing on the side as well.