Whether you are just starting out in business or have been running your business for many years, it’s important to make sure that you have the right business insurance in place to protect you from unexpected financial loss.
Business insurance can be complicated and it’s not always easy to decide what cover you need or where to get it.
There are a number of different ways to get insurance for your business. Here are five:
1. You can go online direct to an insurance company
You can now go direct to some of the well-known insurers’ websites and get a small business insurance quote online. This assumes that you know what sort of insurance you need for your business, what level of cover is best for you and also that your business description fits one of the available categories. You fill in an online form with information about your business and choose the options you require. If your business fits their required criteria, you will be offered a quote for that particular insurer’s product. The insurance policies available tend to be package insurance products for trades. If there is a telephone help line, be aware that the call centre staff will only be able to advise you on their particular insurance company’s products. It can be a quick way to get instant cover but the cover you’re getting might not be the best for your business. And if you need to make a claim, you’ll be on your own when dealing with the insurance company’s claims department.
2. You can use a business insurance comparison website
There are a number of websites that compare business insurance quotes online. These are called aggregators. They generally compare products from a limited number of insurers, not all, and tend to focus on micro-enterprise businesses. They rely on you knowing what insurance you need and entering information about your business into their online forms. You will have to choose your business description from a list. They then send this information to insurers to get you quotes. They are very much price focused and insurance quote results will be shown cheapest first. The cheaper quotes might have restricted cover, high excesses and expensive fees for mid term adjustments. Differences in cover between products is not always easy to spot. Any questions you may have are usually dealt with by a FAQ page. Aggregators can provide quick quotes and instant cover but they only compare quotes for you and will not offer any assistance if you need to make a claim. They are not insurers. Aggregators receive commission from insurers when you place your insurance through their website. If you need to make a change to the business insurance mid-term or need copies of documents, you’ll need to contact the insurer direct and you may find this results in expensive additional premiums.
3. You can go to a bank
Some banks now offer business insurance. They are usually agents or introducers for a single insurer, which means they will only offer you a business insurance quote from one insurance company. They are not insurers. They earn a commission from the insurer if you place your insurance through them. Any advice will only relate to one insurance company’s products. Banks are not business insurance specialists. You will not be insured with the bank but with the insurance company they have chosen to represent. If you need to make a change on the policy or want to make a claim you will be told to contact the insurance company direct.
4. You can use a general insurance agent or broker
An insurance agent deals with a number of insurance companies and acts as an intermediary between you and the insurer. They will usually ask you questions over the phone so that they understand what you do and what insurance you need. They’ll use this information to get you insurance quotes from a number of insurance companies. They’ll then compare the different quotes, taking into account cover and price and recommend the best option to you.
Not all insurance brokers are the same. Some may not be independent and deal with only a limited number of insurance companies and a limited number of products. Some may operate from call centres and not have a local presence. Some may deal predominantly with personal lines insurance, such as home and motor and only have limited expertise in commercial insurance. Have a look at their website or brochure, ask how many insurance companies they will approach for you and if they have any commercial insurance specialists. Look for experience and Chartered Insurance Institute qualifications. Find out if they will help you with a claim or whether they outsource claims handling to a claims management company. Ask others in your industry, for recommendations.
5. You can use a local independent business insurance broker
The job of an independent insurance broker who specialises in business and commercial insurance is to help you get the right business insurance at a competitive price. They compare the market for you, for free usually, and offer unbiased advice. They will find out exactly what you do, by asking you questions either over the phone or, if you prefer, in a face-to-face meeting. They’ll then use this information to get you a number of business insurance quotes from a range of insurance companies.
Look for a local company with experienced and qualified staff. Their in depth knowledge of the commercial insurance market means they will usually know which insurers to go to, for the best deals for your particular business. They’ll tell you which types of insurance are essential for your business, which are advisable to have and which are optional extras. They’ll answer your questions and then allow you to decide for yourself how to proceed. If you go ahead and place your business insurance with them, they’ll be there to help you if you need to make a claim.
My advice is use the Internet to do your research about the business insurance you need and to help you decide who to buy it from and then contact a local independent commercial insurance broker and have a chat with an expert.
P.S. If you would like to deal with a Kent based commercial insurance specialist who cares about protecting your business and will treat you as an individual and not just a number, then please contact me.