Usually the broker’s service doesn’t cost you a penny—he or she is remunerated by the insurance company with whom your business is placed. But therein lies a potential conflict of interest and further reason to select carefully. You want to trust that your broker will not put his or her commission before your risks when recommending an insurer. In any case, even after a very careful selection process, you should still assume full responsibility for your insurance portfolio. Make sure that you understand every aspect of it and ask questions when you don’t.

Review your policies annually as a matter of routine. In my experience, some brokers left to their own devices can be less than diligent about monitoring your file, particularly if you’re a small pony in his or her client stable of big, valuable thoroughbreds. I’ve known some to simply renew an existing policy without even a cursory review, year after year. Typically, a policy is written, the monthly debit order is set up for the premium, and then tends to become one of those out-of-sight-out-of-mind matters that, all good intentions notwithstanding, you never get around to visiting. The problem is that a small business’s circumstances can change over time and insurance coverage can be found wanting when disaster strikes.