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A comprehensive look at why businesses require insurance and what type of insurance they need.

The necessity of insurance for businesses is a subject that frequently comes into question. The complexity of the answer lies in the depth of understanding an insurance adviser has regarding the specific nature and requirements of the business in focus. A seasoned insurance adviser evaluates crucial factors, including the nature of the business operations, its financial stability, and contractual obligations to customers.

Building a business from the ground up is testament to hard work and dedication. However, the absence of appropriate insurance coverage can expose a business to significant financial risks from unforeseen events. Such incidents can impose severe constraints on cash flow or, in extreme cases, lead to the closure of the business due to inadequate preparation. Business insurance acts as a critical safeguard, preserving time, resources, and peace of mind by protecting against potential financial losses.

It’s evident that business insurance plays an integral role in establishing a robust risk management framework, meriting serious consideration. For comprehensive protection for your business, it is prudent to explore various insurance products.

Property insurance

Property or buildings insurance offers coverage on either an All Risks or perils-based basis, tailored to the specific needs of a business. The key distinction between these two types of coverage is that All Risks policies provide protection against all forms of perils from theft to fire, unless explicitly excluded. In contrast, a perils-based coverage secures against only select dangers, such as fire, wind, storm, or explosion.

Most businesses operate from a premises, whether it’s a home office, a leased premises or a property owned by the business itself. With the rise of e-commerce trading, an increasing number of businesses now operate from residential locations. For those running a business from home, it’s crucial to consult with an insurance adviser to establish to what extent domestic policies provide cover for home office and contents.

Understanding the specifics of your lease agreement is vital, especially for leased properties. These agreements often detail the insurance responsibilities of the lessee and lessor, commonly assigning the obligation of insuring of the building to the lessee.

Lastly, for businesses that own their premises, it’s important to consider whether the property is subject to a bond. Banks requiring insurance for bonded properties necessitate careful consideration to avoid dual insurance, which could lead to unnecessary costs and complications at claims stage, with insurers potentially required to contribute a rateable proportion to any loss.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance is specifically designed to cover the contents within a building, including items such as furniture, office kitchen equipment, and stationery. As a rule of thumb, these assets are not intended to be portable for business operations. It’s important to note that many standard contents insurance policies do not automatically extend coverage to electronic equipment, for which separate coverage may be necessary.

When it comes to leased properties, it’s crucial to understand the division of responsibility regarding the insurance of fixtures and fittings. Determining to what extent coverage would be required is essential, as lease agreements typically specify the obligations of both the lessee and lessor in these scenarios.

Business interruption insurance

Business interruption insurance offers protection against the loss of income during periods when normal business operations are disrupted due to an unforeseen insured event.

Even with meticulous business records and robust controls in place, there remains inherent risk outside of your control that can pose financial threats to your operations.

Business interruption covers not only net profit, but also ongoing expenses and overheads, excluding those uninsured working expenses. Additionally, it compensates for “additional expenses” incurred for the sole purpose of mitigating or lessening a downturn in turnover. These expenses must be economically justifiable, meaning they should either prevent or reduce the financial impact on the business by the equivalent rand amount.

It’s crucial for businesses to recognise their revenue sources and understand the interdependencies with suppliers and customers. Business interruption insurance can be extended to cover financial losses resulting from significant disruptions to a key supplier or customer, directly affecting your business’s income.

General & specialist liability insurance

Every business will inevitably encounter legal risks. A prudent business owner, in collaboration with their insurance advisers, should conduct a comprehensive review of these risks. This assessment should consider not only the physical risks posed to outsiders by the business’s operations, but also scrutinise the contracts entered with customers and suppliers.

Legal risks manifest in various forms, including accidents on the premises, product liability, defective workmanship, and the potential recall of products. Liability insurance covers the legal liability of a business in cases of bodily injury or damage to tangible property.

General and specialist liability insurance serves a dual purpose. Firstly, if a legal liability is established against a business, then the policy would cover legal fees and expenses, in addition to compensating any third parties involved. Secondly, in instances where the business is found not legally liable, it still provides coverage for legal expenses incurred to defend the matter.

However, it’s crucial to recognise that this insurance is not designed to manage reputational risk, nor address commercial decisions made by the business to safeguard business relationships.

Motor insurance

Motor insurance for business-owned vehicles is available in several forms: comprehensive, third-party fire and theft, and theft-only coverage.

When selecting the appropriate coverage, businesses must consider several factors, including the vehicles’ contractual obligations (such as leases or finance arrangements), the age of the fleet and how critical the vehicles are to business operations.

Comprehensive coverage offers the broadest form of protection, safeguarding against a wide array of conceivable events including fire, theft, accidental damage, and third-party motor liability. This makes it a preferred option for businesses seeking extensive protection for their vehicle assets.

Third-party, fire and theft provide a more limited scope, covering damages to third parties in the event of an accident, but limiting protection for the insured vehicle to fire or theft incidents only.

Lastly, the theft-only option represents the most economical choice, typically suited for older or infrequently used vehicles, offering coverage exclusively for theft.

SASRIA cover

Strike action, recognised as a fundamental democratic and constitutional right, allows individuals to peacefully express their grievances in response to employment or broader social issues. However, when such demonstrations deteriorate into disorder, SASRIA offers cover against the specific risks of civil commotion, public disorder, riot, or terrorism, as witnessed in July 2021 in the KZN region.

Business continuity management

Viewing insurance as the ultimate safeguard against loss is a misconception. Instead, insurance should serve as a support mechanism within a comprehensive risk management programme.

Businesses need to assess potential risks thoroughly to formulate a plan detailing how operations would continue in the event of a loss, identifying the necessary resources that would be required to maintain business continuity while a claim is processed. An insurance policy indemnifies the policyholder for losses, providing support in addition to other risk mitigation measures deployed.

Incorporating these insurance solutions into your risk management and business continuity strategies, not only safeguards your business against immediate challenges but also contributes to its long-term sustainability and resilience amidst uncertainties.