The insurance cover you need if you’re a UK small business

Whatever sector you operate in, having insufficient insurance could damage both your bank balance and your reputation – don’t get caught out…

With 99% of UK businesses considered ‘small’ and having fewer than 250 employees, it is important to have the right insurance cover in place for any eventuality; particularly if you operate in retail, food or hospitality, where you need to think about what accidents could happen and how you could be liable for damages.

The impact of a lawsuit can be hugely expensive and detrimental to your business and its reputation – so having the right cover is vital.

Businesses that come into contact with members of the public tend to be at a higher risk of making a claim. Here we review some on the most important types of insurance used to cover your small business.

Public liability

According to the Association of British insurers, Public liability refers to how carrying out your business activity may interfere with those around you including customers, passersby, local neighbours, the environment and even trespassers. Hence, it is relevant for shops, centres, clinics, practices and anywhere you will find people passing through regularly.

Whilst as businesses we always try our best to protect customers, we never know when an accident will occur. Having public liability in place means that your insurer can contribute towards any compensation, medical fees and legal costs incurred in the event of an accident.

When might I need it?

The most common example is if someone slips on the wet floor of your shop and sprains their ankle. As a business owner, you have a legal obligation to protect anyone that engages with your business and therefore has the right to demand compensation.

Other examples where public liability insurance might be used include a handy man working on someone’s premises and breaking something valuable whilst doing their job. They will be required to replace any damaged items and this is something that they can claim for.

How much do I need?

Cover is available for up to £10m per year or more, depending on the nature of your business.

Professional indemnity

Professional Indemnity (PI) cover is specifically for those giving professional advice. This includes lawyers, doctors, financial advisers, accountants, marketers and consultants

When might I need it?

It is assumed that the advice received by the customer will have a big impact on their business, health or financial position. If the client feels that the professional has acted negligently or provided bad advice, they may wish to seek compensation and take legal action.

For instance, if an individual believes that their Doctor has prescribed the wrong medication or given poor health advice and this has caused them to be significantly worse off, the patient has the right to sue for damages.

This can also extend to anyone providing a service, such as a massage, laser hair removal, haircut, caterer, event and more.

How much do I need?

Those using PI cover can apply for up to £10m worth of cover per year.

Products liability

You need to be covered for any products that you manufacture or administer to other businesses or the general public.

When might I need it?

There is always the risk that something that you create can be defective or below standard and this presents a danger to the customer.

A recent example involved the new Samsung phones that caught fire. This led to injuries to some of the users and further damages – hence the victims were able to take legal action and receive compensation.

How much do I need?

Products liability ranges from £1m to £5m for small businesses, and can be extended depending on the size of the company. It is common for anything that is made or manufactured, including foodstuffs, electronics, toys and beauty therapy.

Employer’s liability

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to protect any members of staff that you employ from any potential injuries or dangers associated with their work.

When might I need it?

This can include simple things like falling off a ladder at work or injury caused by heavy lifting. In the event that an employee has suffered injury or damages, they can claim from their employer for sick pay, medical compensation and damages.

How much do I need?

Up to £10m worth of cover is available and it is such a requirement for firms to have a policy in place that they can be issued a daily fine of £2,500 for not showing documentation upon request.

Contents insurance

Contents are the physical items and machinery you require to carry out your business. This includes computers, any stock or inventory and machines.

When might I need it?

If any of your contents are stolen, vandalized or broken due to fire, flood or other peril, you can claim from your insurer to have these replaced immediately and limit your business being put on hold.

How much do I need?

The amount of cover available runs in the millions of pounds depending on the value of your contents. It is important to name and have a record of specific items on your policy so that you can claim for them effectively in the event of an incident.

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