Monthly Archives: August 2017

What Types of Commercial Insurance

If you have your own business, you may be bewildered by the range of commercial insurance you need. Some of these forms of insurance are required by law, whereas others might be stipulated by various professional bodies in order for you to practice. In other cases, insurance is advisable though not mandatory.

commercial insurance

The wide range of sub-types of commercial insurance means that it is worth gaining specialist advice to make sure you are properly covered. Some of the most common kinds are summarised below, though the list is not exhaustive.

Employers liability insurance is mandatory, except in very restricted circumstances. Under the law you must arrange cover of at least £5 million. Employers liability insurance protects you against claims from employees that arise in the course of their work. These can include accidents and injury, but also harassment, discrimination and wrongful dismissal, amongst other things.

Public liability insurance provides cover for claims that arise from third parties or members of the public (who are unconnected with your business) in the course of your work. For example, you might need to pay costs in the event of an accident that is your fault that results in injury to a person or damage to property.

Professional indemnity insurance is generally required by those who provide advice in the course of their work. This covers you for claims that arise when that advice is, or is perceived to be, deficient in some way. It is often associated with lawyers and architects, but is a type of commercial insurance applicable to a much wider list of professions.

Directors and officers insurance protects key members of a company from decisions they make as managers. This is important because a claim can be brought against both individuals and a company itself; directors and officers can be held personally liable for decisions made on behalf of the company, meaning their own assets are at risk. D&O can cover you for mistakes made by previous as well as current directors.

Premises insurance. If you have separate premises you will need to organise cover for the buildings and contents. There are various additions for special circumstances, for example if you keep a large amount of cash on the premises. If you work from home then you will need to consider how this affects your home insurance. In some circumstances it will not matter. Generally, though, if your work raises the risk of damage or burglary (perhaps because there are more people coming to your house) then your insurer will be reluctant to cover you without raising your premiums. Similarly if you are keeping valuable equipment or stock at home, you will need to change your policy.

Vehicle insurance. This is mandatory for any driver, but you must also make sure that they are covered for business usage if they are driving their personal vehicles in the course of work. If you are transporting products, you should also consider goods in transit cover.

Personal insurance. There are various kinds of personal insurance you might want to think about if you have your own business. Life insurance is an obvious one, but critical illness cover could also be important (this can often be purchased on the same policy.)

Combined commercial insurance policies

There are many different kinds of commercial insurance, and purchasing individual policies can be expensive. One cheap way to go about acquiring all the different types of insurance you need is to get a combined commercial insurance policy. This allows you to access economies of scale and create a bespoke set of policies that is right for your requirements from a long list of types of cover.

Commercial Insurance Helps

Commercial insurance policies provide cover for buildings and property against all kinds of perils, but it is important to consider what it would cost to get your buildings reinstated following a total loss catastrophe such as a fire or major flood, and to ensure that your business insurance policy contains provisions to cover all the costs of reinstatement expenses.

If you under-estimate the total rebuilding costs of your commercial premises when initially applying for cover, then following any future claim, any payouts agreed will be subject to reductions by what is called ‘average’.

Average will reduce the claim payout proportionally by the amount of under-insurance of the declared value from the actual current rebuilding costs. For example if your premises costs 150,000 to rebuild and you have declared the sum insured at 120,000, your claim will be reduced by a fifth.

If allowances are not made for all the costs of rebuilding, including those that may not at first be apparent, when applying for a commercial property insurance quote, then it is more than likely that the premises will be under-insured.

Commercial buildings cover may or may not include cover for fees for architects, surveyors or consultant engineers that may be required before rebuilding work can be commenced. These will usually work alongside any loss adjusters appointed by the insurer to minimise costs and agree any rebuilding proposals. Insurance companies will not pay rates for fees above those set by the governing professional trade bodies.

It is important to establish whether professional fees are included in the policy cover and if not, add an amount to cover these to the declared sum insured. When doing so be aware that these professions usually charge a very high hourly rate, and inflation should be allowed for.

Another area that can often cause disagreement between an insured and an insurance company following total loss of the premises, is that of debris removal and clearance of the site in preparation to rebuild.

Most commercial policies will include a section outlining the insurance companies responsibility as regards the insured premises site clearance and debris removal. This typically includes cover for dismantling and demolishing buildings, shoring and propping up dangerous or adjacent buildings and site clearance. More often than not the amount for this is included in the sum insured, in which case this should be calculated and also added in to the rebuilding cost at proposal.

Debris clearance can be extremely expensive, especially if for example hazardous building materials such as asbestos have to be removed, or if the site was storing chemicals or dangerous machinery that have to be treated and removed by specialist clean-up teams.

Commercial Insurance Online Pitfalls

It is a very straight-forward process today to compare commercial insurance quotes online for virtually every type of business and trade.

There are many very fast and efficient websites operated by insurance agents, brokers, companies and comparison sites that offer quote comparisons for both liability and property cover, However when buying commercial insurance for your business online there are many not so obvious considerations and often hidden costs, that you should be aware of before you purchase.

The major problem with all online quote comparisons is that products are differentiated by price, most often with the cheapest quotes displayed first. Inevitably this will mean that quality insurance products with more cover that maybe cost a little more, will often not make the top five results displayed.

Whether you are looking to purchase liability protection or commercial property insurance for your stock, buildings and contents the most important consideration when applying for quotes is to disclose all the material facts. Many policy contracts can later be deemed null and void because a business owner was not one hundred percent truthful when applying for quotes.

If you fail for example, to declare the full value of your buildings in an attempt to reduce the premium prices quoted, in the event of a claim for an insured loss, your settlement figure will be reduced by the insurer proportionally to the amount of under-insurance, invoking what is known as the average clause.

Another example is a failure to declare all your staff including part-time staff for liability cover purposes.

it is also equally important when comparing policies by price quoted, to compare the actual covers offered by these policies. Invariably there will be differences in the levels of indemnity for loss, sums insured and additional covers offered.

Likewise each commercial insurance company will also tend to have its own levels of voluntary and policy excess, set to attract or deter certain types of business.

Compare policy wordings and keyfacts documents so that you fully understand the levels of cover offered by each of the quotes, before you buy.

Avoid paying for additional covers that you do not need. For example, new businesses in their first year would not be able to claim on a business interruption section of a policy for loss of profits, as there is no trading history. Similarly businesses that do not give advice have no requirement for professional indemnity insurance which may be included in some all risks packaged polices.

Other hidden costs to be aware of, are companies offering monthly payments or credit facilities at high interest rates. Beware sites that do not display the monthly premium breakdown at quote stage for those wishing to pay by monthly debit.

Before purchasing or even obtaining quotes, you should check that the provider is regulated and authorised to conduct commercial insurance business.
For example in the UK the site should display an FSA registration number, which shows the site is covered by the Financial Services Authority compensation scheme, should things go wrong.