Business insurance is an umbrella term for different types of insurance policies.
It’s designed to protect your company against financial risks if you need to make a claim or if one is made against you. This includes legal costs and compensation claims if you’re sued. It may also cover the cost of replacing damaged or lost property.
These policies can cover a range of scenarios, from everyday risks to huge compensation claims. Having the right insurance in place is a good way to protect your work and livelihood, your employees, your customers and your reputation.
Some businesses are required to have insurance as a condition of trading, so it’s worth checking to make sure you’re not overpaying for business essentials.
What business insurance can I get?
Some of the most common types of business insurance are:
Builders’ insurance, which can keep you and your business safe whether you are a self-employed tradesman or run a business with employees
Public liability insurance, which covers damage caused by your business to a third party or their property. A third party is typically anyone who isn’t employed by your business
Professional indemnity insurance, which covers claims made due to failings in the products or services provided by your company
Employers’ liability insurance, which covers claims made if an employee is injured (or worse) while working for you. This is a legal requirement in the UK
Commercial property insurance, which covers your tools and equipment against flood, theft and fire
Goods in transit insurance, which protects you if someone claims against your business or if a courier loses your goods
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What business insurance do I need?
It depends on your business. You may legally be required to take out certain types of business insurance, such as employers’ liability insurance.
This is mandatory for businesses with employees in the UK – even if they’re volunteers. It covers compensation claims if your staff are injured or die while in your employment.
The minimum legal limit of cover is £5 million but most policies include £10 million of cover. You’ll need this insurance even if you only have one employee.
The fines for not having employers’ liability insurance can be up to £2,500 a day for every day that you don’t have it.
Is public liability insurance a legal requirement?
Public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement, but it is one of the most common policies taken out by businesses.
This kind of insurance covers third-party injury and property damage caused by your work. If your business inadvertently injured a member of the public or damaged their property, the injured party could take you to court. Public liability insurance covers you for legal costs and compensation claims if you‘re sued.
Public liability insurance is a good idea if your business involves public interaction. This doesn’t just include public-facing businesses. Travelling to and from a client’s office, for example, or meeting people in their homes as part of your business may mean it’s valuable.
For certain businesses, public liability insurance may be essential. For example, you might need it if you’re a:
Private nurse or carer
Hairdresser, barber, beauty therapist or personal trainer
Builder, electrician or tradesperson
Generally, you need it if you:
Have clients visit you
Go out on business (for example, to meetings)
What other commercial insurance should I consider?
Additional business insurance might include:
Cyber insurance (also known as cyber liability insurance or cyber security insurance) is designed to cover risks that come with storing and handling data when running a business. This would include situations such as data breaches, cybercrime and business interruption as a result of a cyber security breach affecting computer systems you rely upon
Commercial property insurance can help rebuild or repair your building if it’s damaged by something like a fire, flood, burst pipe or vandalism. This includes business interruption insurance, which pays for lost income due to property damage
Business contents insurance covers you for the items in your workplace, such as furniture, tools or equipment
Landlord insurance protects you against damage to your rental property and sometimes covers loss of earnings too
These types of insurance aren’t legally required. Equally, clients aren’t likely to demand these insurances before working with you. But extra insurance is a great way of protecting your business.
How much business insurance cover do I need?
The amount of cover you need depends on your situation. The size and type of business you run are important factors, as well as the risk level of your business.
There’s a balance to be struck. Don’t overestimate how much cover you need and pay more for your business insurance than is necessary. On the other hand, if you don’t get enough cover, you could find yourself in trouble if you need to make a claim.
Sometimes your customers, professional body or the law might specify how much business insurance you need. This could be based on turnover, income, number of employees or the value of a contract for example.
Think about what kind of things could go wrong in your company and how much it would cost to resolve them. Then consider the legal fees and compensation claims that might follow. Think about what you could stand to lose. For example, how much stock does your business hold? How much would your premises cost to rebuild? Questions like these can help you decide how much cover you need.
How much does business insurance cost?
Some of the factors that might affect the price you’re offered include:
Where your business is based
What your business does
How long your business has been up and running
The size of your business
What kind of cover you want and how much coverage you need
Your claims history (particularly the past five years)
What kind of environment you operate in
Whether you work with dangerous materials.
Cost will be a critical factor, but it’s not as important as finding the right cover for your business. By tailoring the policy to the unique needs of your business, you’ll have peace of mind that you’re covered, and you may pay less by only paying for the cover you need.
How to get the best deal on business insurance for the least money:
Pick a higher voluntary excess: your excess is the amount you must pay when you make a claim. Choosing a high voluntary excess can bring the price of your business insurance down, but make sure you pick an excess you can afford
Give accurate values to insurers: take an inventory of what you need to cover with your business insurance. For example, this could include stock, equipment, or your premises. Don’t overestimate and overpay for your policy, but also make sure you have enough cover
What information do I need to give?
To complete a quote for insurance you usually need to supply the following information:
Business details such as name and address
Business type (sole trader, limited company or partnership)
What type of work your business carries out
Your business turnover – how much money do you expect to receive for your work?
Whether your business operates solely in the UK or elsewhere as well
Details of your employees if you have any
Whether you have cover in place currently – and if you do, your renewal date if known
Depending on what your business does, there may be other information required to get the right cover for your needs. This includes details about any previous claims or ongoing legal disputes.