Understanding Commercial Insurance Risks and Business Insurance Covers

If you own or manage a business, either large or small, you will require some type of insurance to protect your company against the various risks and potential multitude of claims, that your business will face.

Commercial insurance or Business insurance as it is commonly known, is a complicated area of underwriting and because all businesses are different, and face different risks depending upon the nature of the company, various packages and combined policy covers have been introduced by insurance companies and commercial broker schemes, to make the process easier.

An example of a small business insurance package which is commonly sold online is the Tradesman’s insurance package, which includes all elements of cover required by a small business or self employed trader such as basic liability covers and theft of tools.

Other small business insurance packages that are trade specific and can often be obtained online are available for shopkeepers, offices, surgeries, hotels and guest houses, restaurants, public houses and builders.

Large companies will be offered what is known as a commercial combined policy which has many different elements of cover which can be combined to make a bespoke policy for the enterprise. Most large companies will require some degree of risk assessment before the policy is underwritten, which may often include a visit to the business premises or site, and for this reason these types of larger business usually employ the services of specialist commercial insurance brokers.

Business Risks

The largest risk that a business faces is from liability to others, and the potential costs and damages a company could face if a claim was made against it.

All companies are required by law to have in place liability cover, called Employers liability insurance or EL, to protect their staff against all potential risks and accidents  while in the workplace.

Business liability insurance is usually sold as a package and will always include Public Liability, often just known as PL, which protects the company against claims from the public whilst on the business premises.

A further type of liability insurance called Product liability is also available to companies under a commercial liability policy which protects the company against claims made for design or manufacturing faults in the product.

Company directors can also protect themselves against liabilities with Directors and Officers insurance (D&O) cover.

Property Damage

Most business large and small will have premises that need protection against buildings perils such as fire and flood and commercial property insurance is available to cover all buildings insurance risks. Similarly commercial contents insurance for business premises is available which covers office and business equipment including files and data processing against the common perils. For companies that carry stock, this type of business contents insurance can be extended to cover risk such as deterioration and damage.

For the small businessman who works from home these covers are often available with strict limits of indemnity, as a bolt on to a standard home buildings and contents policy. This type of cover is often effective for self employed people with just a computer and a home office.

Business Contingency Cover

One of the largest problems faced by a business is that of how to continue in business should the worst occur, for example a fire that destroys the premises. In order to deal with this Insurance companies have devised a cover called ‘Business Interruption Insurance’. Based on your previous years annual turnover, this protection insurance covers your company against all losses caused by interruption to trading due to any of the perils mentioned on the policy and will pay out on a indemnified basis for the period of cover agreed in the policy. Most policies will also offer some type of alternative trading accommodation to enable you business to continue whilst the premises are being repaired.

Additional Commercial Risks

Because commercial insurance is designed to cover all classes of business, there are many various trade or business specific covers available which can be added to a combined policy. Examples of these covers include loss of licence to trade, glass cover, goods in transit cover, book debts, commercial vehicle insurance, hauliers cover, warehouse cover, engineering insurance and plant inspection services, and theft by employees.

Outside of most combined policies are additional risks more often sold under separate policy covers, that should be considered to protect your business against all eventualities.

Examples of these are, Commercial Legal Expenses insurance cover which protects the company against claims made by employees for unfair dismissal and allows you to bring cases against suppliers.

Various protection policies are also available for businesses including Keyman insurance which provides cover against the loss of key people within your organisation. Business mortgage protection provides a monthly payment for business premises should you suffer and accident or sickness. Group ASU policies are also available to protect your staff and employees.

Purchasing Business Cover

Purchasing commercial risks insurance can be a daunting experience for the uninitiated small business owner and unless the risks are straightforward and can be underwritten online, it is advisable for all companies to approach the services of a local or regional commercial insurance broker. Insurance Brokers will not only be able to assess the complete range of risks that your business is exposed to, and provide the correct levels of cover, they will more often than not have a unique local knowledge of the risks involved and will be able to negotiate premiums that reflect the nature of the risks. Furthermore, in the event of a claim, and as most businesses will be faced with claims at some point in their trading life-cycle, the broker will handle all the settlement negotiations with the insuring company and allow you to continue what you do best – running your business.

Commercial Insurance – A Business Guide

In searching for the right insurance, a business owner may contact any number of companies, either in person, over the phone, or online. Or, they can contact a commercial insurance broker. Commercial insurance brokers not only find the policy that best fits the particular business and its risks, but they will also find the best priced policy. Brokers, unlike agents, do not have a contract with the insurance company to sell that company’s insurance. Instead, they work for the client, or business owner.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to find the best commercial coverage is over the internet. Commercial insurance companies have created some of the most all-encompassing websites on the entire web. When it comes to the amount of information and the ease with which potential customers can resource that information, it is truly amazing. By visiting the websites of some of the larger companies, even if they don’t purchase their policy from them, business owners can get a more comprehensive view of the types of commercial coverage that is available for their particular business. By checking on several different websites, anyone who is seeking commercial insurance quotes will find that they can swiftly and readily locate the best and most competitively priced commercial insurance quote. They should always keep in mind that cheap commercial insurance is not always the best insurance, but using the web certainly makes it easier to find.

There are many kinds of commercial coverage available to many different kinds of businesses. Insurance for commercial operations is separated into two categories: property and casualty. Property insurance will cover possessions that are stolen, damaged, or destroyed by any covered cause listed in the policy. Casualty insurance covers the business’ liability if it is responsible for property damage or bodily injury to a third party as a result of negligence or omission.

Most businesses will not need every kind of coverage that is out there. Perhaps one business has several cars, vans, or trucks that are used each day in its operation. In that case, they would need car commercial insurance. On the other hand, a business might be conducted out of the home and all the work is done on a computer and sent out by way of the internet. A vehicle is not used at all for this business so the car coverage is unnecessary as far as the business is concerned. Even though not all coverage is needed, it is a good idea for the business owner to learn about the different types of coverage that are at hand. In this way, it is possible for them to make wise choices as to what coverage is needed. Also, the business owner can make any changes in coverage that may become necessary as his business flourishes.

Commercial Insurance Helps Pay For The Catastrophe Clean Up

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.