Winter insurance tips for small businesses: how to make sure you’re protected

Flooding and other damage brought about by winter storms can be devastating for small businesses and the self-employed. Here are our tips to make sure you have the cover you need in place.

Do you have the right cover?

Business buildings insurance

First things first, you need to make sure you have the right cover in place. Business buildings insurance is an important consideration if you own your business premises, including if you work from home. Should you suffer property damage due to a storm or flood, business buildings cover can help pay for repairs to get you up on your feet again.

If you rent your business premises then you should check with your landlord what insurance they have - it’s their responsibility to cover the building, but there are still a lot of ways your business could be impacted even if the building is taken care of.

Tenant’s improvements insurance

Floods and storms can damage not only the building itself, but anything within it as well. If you’ve made any improvements to your rented building, such as adding in air conditioning or specialised fittings, those won’t usually be protected under your landlord’s policy and you’ll need tenant’s improvements insurance to cover the cost of their repairs or replacement.

Stock cover

And then there’s any stock or equipment you have which could suffer from storms or flooding. If you stock foods, fabrics or anything else fragile, or if you take in items from your customers, stock cover can help cover the cost should they be lost or damaged.

It’s also worth noting that some insurers require stock to be kept at least 25cm above ground level, but if you’re ever unsure, always refer back to your policy wording.

Business contents insurance

Business contents insurance is what you want if you’re looking to cover your equipment. Whether it’s a laptop or a complex piece of machinery, business contents insurance can pay out for the cost of replacements or repairs.

Business interruption insurance

We also offer business interruption insurance which can cover lost income while you’re out of action after a storm.

Do you have the right cover levels?

While you may have the right types of insurance in place, it’s also important to check you have the right level of cover. For example, if you need business buildings insurance, you should have a level of cover at least equal to the cost of rebuilding the property from scratch, including labour and materials. Similarly, when insuring your stock, equipment, or fixtures and fittings, you need to ensure your cover is above the value of replacing them.

If you underinsure any of your items, your insurer can reduce the amount they pay out for a claim. Say, for example, your stock is worth £10,000 but you only insure it for £7,500 - 25 per cent less than its value. If it is damaged in a flood, your insurer could reduce the claim payment by the same percentage from the amount you actually insured. So in this example, the insured may only receive £5,625, or 75 per cent of £7,500.

It’s also worth considering whether the value of your buildings, stock or equipment has changed since you took out or renewed your insurance. If you’ve bought extra equipment or upgraded your existing equipment, or if you now keep more stock on your premises, for example, you need to contact Simply Business to update your cover levels.

Check your excess

For almost every cover, there will be an excess. This is the part of the claim that you have to pay as a minimum, while your insurer pays the rest. The amount of excess will vary depending on the type of claim, the type of cover and the insurance provider, so you’ll need to check your policy documents to see what your excess is.

If you have an excess of £100 on your business equipment insurance, for example, you will need to pay the first £100 of any business equipment insurance claim. If you’re claiming for a £1000 laptop the excess might not seem significant, but if your claim would work out at £100 or under, it won’t be worthwhile.

Document everything

If you need to make a claim, your insurer will want proof that the amount you’re asking for is the actual value of the items being replaced. Keeping itemised receipts for everything relating to your business - whether it’s stock, equipment or specialised fittings - will make this process easier.

It’s important that you contact our claims team as soon as possible after the incident, and that you document everything related to your claim. This could include taking photographs and videos of the damage, and writing down what happened.

How are you preparing your business for bad weather? Let us know in the comments

Looking for self-employed insurance?

With Simply Business you can build a single self employed insurance policy combining the covers that are relevant to you. Whether it’s public liability insurance, professional indemnity or whatever else you need, we’ll run you a quick quote online, and let you decide if we’re a good fit.

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