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Insure your child's lemonade stand?

Young entrepreneurs have launched all sorts of summer businesses. If there's a mishap, will their parents' insurance kick in?

By MSN Money Partner Jun 20, 2012 12:43PM
This post comes from Barbara Marquand at partner site on MSN MoneyFrom lemonade stands to dog-washing operations, summer businesses give youngsters the chance to learn the value of a hard-earned dollar. But as any entrepreneur knows, things can go awry with even the best-laid business plans.

Image: Children with lemonade stand (© Ron Chapple/Thinkstock Images/Jupiterimages)What if your junior landscaper kills the neighbor's rare azaleas? Or your little peddler's lemonade turns stomachs sour? Know what your little CEOs are up to -- and check your home insurance policy.

Typically, home insurance provides just $2,500 in coverage for business-related property, and excludes business activities from liability coverage.

So the big questions are whether your kid's venture counts as a business, and whether you're covered if your entrepreneur hurts others or damages their property.

Most policies define a business as a "trade, profession or occupation engaged in on a part-time, full-time or occasional basis" that earned $2,000 in the past 12 months, says Christine G. Barlow, a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and associate editor of FC&S Online, which interprets insurance policies for the industry.

Although most policies exclude liability coverage for business activities, an exception is typically made for insured household members under age 21, as long as they have no employees, Barlow says.

Under these definitions -- the most recent ones developed for the industry -- most kid-run businesses would be covered by a parent's home insurance policy.

But some insurance companies use different definitions, says Bill Wilson, a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter. That could mean your kid's entrepreneurial endeavors don't have coverage through home insurance, says Wilson, who is also associate vice president of education and research for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America and director of the Big "I" Virtual University.

"Everything hinges on the policy's wording," Barlow says. (Post continues below.)

Here's how insurance coverage would kick in under most -- but not all -- home insurance policies:

Your 14-year-old runs over your pastor's foot when mowing the church lawn. You would be covered for the pastor's injuries as long as your kid used a push mower. But you wouldn't be covered if your teenager used a riding lawn mower, Wilson says. That's because most standard home insurance policies exclude liability coverage for riding mowers when operated on nonresidential property.

Operating a car wash in the driveway, your 12-year-old scratches the paint when scrubbing a new BMW. You could pay for the damage and make a liability claim on your home insurance policy. Or the car owner could make a car insurance claim if he or she had comprehensive insurance, which covers damage caused by factors other than traffic accidents. Then, the car insurer could come after your home insurance company to pay the claim, Barlow says.

Your 6-year-old runs a lemonade stand and spills on a customer's designer handbag. Your home insurance liability coverage would pay for the damage. But you might have other trouble, depending on local regulations. Some cities made news last year for shutting down lemonade stands because they didn't have the appropriate licenses and permits. Lemonade stand proponents then launched Lemonade Freedom Day, encouraging people to open stands all over the country. This year's big day is Aug. 18, according to

Your 21-year-old college student, a self-employed tutor, spills coffee on a customer's laptop. If your student made more than $2,000 in the last year from tutoring, his efforts would qualify as a business and there would be no liability coverage. There would be coverage, however, if he made less than $2,000 -- or the accident occurred before he turned 21.

Follow these steps if your kids have early business aspirations:

  • Read your home insurance policy. "Also, talk to your insurance agent," Wilson says. "Better safe than sorry -- I'd rather know upfront whether the company will pay if there's a claim."
  • Consider buying more liability insurance. A typical home insurance policy provides $100,000 of liability insurance, Wilson says. "Most homeowners should consider at least a $1 million umbrella policy, particularly if there is a significant exposure to the general public that would be covered by the umbrella." (See: "How much umbrella insurance should you have?")
  • Talk to your kids about insurance. "Even children can be introduced to basic business principles and the rewards of entrepreneurship, and one of those important principles is insurance," says Adam Toren, co-author (with brother Mathew Toren) of "Kidpreneurs." Founders of, the Toren brothers have been running businesses since grade school.
  • Ask about business insurance if your kid's venture takes off. Adam Toren was 7 and Matthew was 8 when their grandfather set them up to sell stunt toy airplanes at a folk festival. The planes sold out quickly, and the brothers caught the entrepreneurial bug. Twelve years later, using proceeds from an assortment of endeavors, they bought a billiard hall and café after Adam graduated from high school.

"We had to make sure we had a solid insurance policy, as this was not only a large space with a lot of expensive assets, but we invited the public into our facility," Toren says. "We talked to a friend of ours whose father was in the insurance business, and we made sure we covered all our insurance bases."

Is your tyke an up-and-coming tycoon? Toren suggests asking an insurance professional when a business insurance policy is necessary.

More on and MSN Money:

Jun 20, 2012 6:11PM
Insurance companies like to help create problems, then sell coverage to address them.  It is a very solid business model, apparently.  I am glad I was a kid when you could have a lemonade stand in your front yard and not need:

- general liability insurance
- a business license
- permission from an HOA
- a city temporary event permit
- a county Health Dept permit and inspection
- etc

Jul 19, 2012 11:33AM
Wow look at all the spam ads! Maybe they should go after them instead of little kids lemonade stands.
Jul 19, 2012 10:05AM

Cities should encourage kids to do constructive things not tax them. Give them a permit not charge them. If every kid would do constructive things, there would a lot less vandalism and trouble on the streets.

Jul 19, 2012 9:51AM

I am going to write a comment about the article above...what a sue country we have developed...lets kill childrens entrepreneurship...let them learn from childhood that going into business requires them to make sure they have tons of insurance to cover every possible situation that could happen...let them know that if a person drinks their lemonade and develops a stomach problem (which they already know thay have) and the lemonade might be too tart for them ...they run to the doctor and presrent the childs parent with the doctors dumb...but that's what the legal profession have done to the public...


Jul 18, 2012 7:54PM
If common sense is so common, why isnt it used more commonly?
Jul 19, 2012 12:40PM
jeezus! wish we could turn back the clock. our world today sucks!
Jul 18, 2012 7:53PM
Jun 21, 2012 7:10PM
Great post! I I just bought the book Kidpreneurs from
Jul 19, 2012 1:31PM
Wow, the new generation gets it so hard. It's a shame the older generation ruined it all for us. They're the ones that make laws after all.
Jul 19, 2012 1:31PM
where is the moderator?  there's more spam than anything else.
Jul 19, 2012 1:45PM
Now that we have gotten rid of some of those idiot spammers we can talk.  Maybe instead of insurance the kids just need to hire a lawyer.  And when some nasty adult comes with a lawsuit the kid can simply say "see my attorney"  Nothing will get things back on track like a good countersuit.  Bad lemondade?  Who says?  My lawyer thinks it's great lemonade.  And so on and so on.  And what did the owner of the BMW contribute to creating the accident.  Oh it will be heaven.  Don't forget to bring a few extra phone books for the kids to sit on.  They shouldn't miss even a second of what adults call justice.
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