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Ask an expert | Commercial insurance solutions to consider for your SMME

If the past couple years of pandemic, devastating floods and riots have taught us anything, it’s that insurance is important for your business as much as it is for your home.

But starting a business is often challenging at the best of times.

From securing funding to identifying potential collaborators and clients, there are plenty of obstacles to overcome on the road to successful entrepreneurship.

As a result, new business owners tend to prioritise growth strategies, and often fail to focus on the ‘what if?’ factor, thus overlooking the potential risks that their enterprise might encounter down the line.

While business owners in traditionally high-risk industries like trucking tend to be more aware of the need for curated cover given the regular transit of valuable goods, other entrepreneurs often make the mistake of underestimating possible risk factors to their operation. This makes them vulnerable to potentially devastating losses.

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Given today’s economic climate and ever-increasing overheads, businesses – and SMEs in particular – simply can’t afford to operate without the correct insurance cover in place.

And given the variety of business insurance options now available to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, there’s simply no reason to run unnecessary risks.

“Many entrepreneurs only become aware of potential risk factors when it’s already too late,” explains Jason Mellow, Head of MiWay Business Insurance.

“But while a business like a beauty salon might seem relatively risk-free, that’s not necessarily the case. Accidents can happen anywhere, you could be liable for significant damages that your business might not be able to afford.”

Here are some commercial insurance solutions your business might want to consider, based on the nature of your activity:

Summer’s here, and this means that hair and beauty salons are typically booked way in advance.

But this festive financial boom can be put at serious risk if your equipment isn’t properly insured.

For business owners in the beauty industry, it’s critical to ensure that your machinery is covered and specified in your insurance contract, so that you can quickly replace it without hampering service delivery. 

You’d also be well advised to invest in liability cover, which protects your interests in the event of third-party claims that can arise should a customer or staff member be injured on your premises or as a result of your business offering. 

It’s also worth remembering that if you use one or multiple vehicles for business purposes – even if they’re your personal ones – these should be covered and specified under your commercial insurance policy.

For the restaurant industry, the holiday season is typically characterised by significantly increased takings. But the anticipated profits of a bumper festive season could go up in smoke if you don’t take the necessary precautions in advance. In this case, your equipment is also key to ensuring you can meet increased demand, so make sure all your vehicles, ovens and other specialist machinery are accounted for on your insurance policy.

Business property insurance is also a must for restaurant owners, as it provides cover not only for your premises, but also the equipment therein in the event of accidental damage, theft, fire, burst pipes or natural disasters.

Many insurers also offer access to emergency assistance, giving clients the option to call on specialists like locksmiths, plumbers and security guards in the event that something goes awry.

With loadshedding likely to continue for the foreseeable future, you might also want to look into stock insurance, which offers you recourse should any of your raw materials be damaged as a result of power surges and cuts.  

Like their fellow customer-facing counterparts, restaurant owners would also be well advised to ensure they have some form of liability cover in place so as to protect themselves against claims arising from unforeseen perils.

Those running mobile operations like electricians, glass fitters or plumbers are typically more exposed to risk given the fact that they spend a lot of time on the road.

And as these operations expand, it’s important to ensure that the cover in place remains comprehensive, particularly when multiple vehicles are used on a daily basis. 

If, for example, you have listed a single regular driver for a vehicle but have since expanded your operation and now have multiple drivers behind the wheel, you could find yourself in difficulty when it comes to claiming, as your monthly premium doesn’t accurately reflect your risk factor.

In this case, it would be better to opt for a multiple driver cover option, which allows for up to five individuals to be listed as regular drivers of the same vehicle, or pool driver insurance, which offers even greater flexibility and doesn’t require you to specify who is behind the wheel at any given time.

Obviously the pool driver option is more flexible but does mean a higher premium to cover this increased risk. 

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For employers managing a mobile workforce, employer’s liability cover is a must, as this offers you protection and peace of mind in the event that an employee should be injured for any reason whilst on the clock, be it due to a dog bite or an unexpected fall.

Broadform liability, which protects you against a variety of incidents such as public liability defective workmanship or accidental damage to a customer’s property, is also highly recommended in this case.

No matter what industry you’re in or the size of your business, insurance is essential and overlooking your insurance can negatively impact your business should an incident arise.

So, if you’re starting up a new venture or looking to expand an existing one, protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build by consulting your insurer to better understand your risk profile and make adequate provisions for any possible eventualities.

Unfortunately losses will occur and you need to make sure that your business is adequately prepared. 

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