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  • A Guide to Office Insurance

    How to ensure you have the right level of cover in place to protect your business and its people.

    Office Insurance

    No matter if your office is a large multinational or a small start up. With one employee or more than 1000. It's vital you take out adequate office insurance to cover your premises, your equipment, and your staff. Ensuring that your business is comprehensively protected if the worse should happen.

    Just as no two offices are the same, insurance policies vary greatly in their complexity and their level of cover too. Making the process of finding a policy to suit your unique needs all the more challenging.

    That's why it's critical you receive expert advice, and review the terms of any office insurance policy carefully, before you commit. There's nothing worse than trying to make a claim when the time comes, only to discover a loophole in your cover that exempts you from a pay out.

    So in this guide to office insurance we'll take you through the different types of cover available. And explore in a little more detail which policies offer you the best long-term protection for your office's needs.

    Why take out office insurance?

    Office insurance, just like travel insurance, car insurance, or home insurance, is there to protect your best interests when things don't go according to plan. Offering you financial and legal protection, if a situation arises and you're unable to fulfil your commitments to your clients, suppliers, and/or your staff.

    There are a number of risks, not always immediately obvious, to modern businesses operating in the UK and insurance exists as a means to protect policyholders and ensure they receive the right compensation.

    Some common examples include:

    • Fire, flood or other natural disaster that makes your premises uninhabitable and destroys your equipment.
    • Injury or fatality on site to an employee or a visitor to your office.
    • Theft of equipment as a result of a break-in or at the hands of a dishonest employee.
    • Infrastructure data breaches that result in compromised customer information and/or destroy company records.
    • Reputational damage or a customer seeking compensation as a result of negligence or malpractice.

    All of the above demonstrate the fragility of today's modern workplace. And underpin the need to protect yourself, and your business, with the correct office insurance policies. Those that don't pursue adequate cover leave themselves vulnerable to financial and reputational failings. All of which can come at a high price.

    Identifying which type of office insurance you need

    Office insurance in 2018 covers a wide remit. So it's possible you may need more than one policy in place to adequately protect all of your interests.

    You should also consider not only the type of cover you need but also the level of insurance too. Not all policies are created equal, but this brief overview should help you identify the main types of cover on the market.

    Public Liability

    This type of insurance protects against third party injuries that occur on your premises. It covers not only yourself, but also anyone who's on site during operational hours, including visitors. It's an important one to take out because as a business owner you have a duty of care to members of the public while on site at your office. So, if an individual were to sustain an injury and sue, your public liability insurance would cover you for compensation claims and legal fees.

    Buildings Insurance

    Depending on if you own or lease your office you may need to take out a buildings insurance policy against the premises. If you're the building's owner, then it's your responsibility to ensure adequate buildings protection is in place. If you lease your premises from a landlord, he or she has a responsibility to insure the premises directly. Of course, don't take this as a given. Be sure to check if buildings insurance exists, and that your own premises will be covered as part of the policy. Crucially, if you make any structural changes, such as installing new washrooms or kitchens, this needs to be specifically cited on the policy. Regardless of if you are the named policyholder.

    Employer's Liability

    This insurance extends to the staff members you have in your employ and working for you at your offices on site. Similar to public liability insurance, employer's liability pays out in the event of an employee injury at work. It doesn't just protect those on your payroll, but also covers any contractors, interns or freelance staff while working at your offices too. It's worth noting, when taking out this policy that employer's liability insurance is a legal requirement and that £5 million is the legal minimum cover level for employer's liability insurance.

    Contents Insurance

    If you lease your office check with your landlord to see if they have a contents policy in place. This type of insurance protects your business equipment against loss or damage. Including theft by a third party, or destruction of property that occurs as a result of fire, flood or similar. It's vital to ensure you have an appropriate contents policy in place, as buildings insurance doesn't extend to office contents that aren't fixed down. It's also imperative to check that your cover level extends to replacing the entire cost of your office's infrastructure like-for-like, should the need arise.

    Business Interruption

    Even if your office is inaccessible for a short period of time, and operations cease temporarily, you still have a responsibility to meet your usual monthly overheads. Including any rents owed to your landlord, your employee's wages, utilities, and any other expenses you're liable for on an on-going basis. This is where having business interruption insurance can prove beneficial. It will pay out all of your financial commitments, while normal business operations are disrupted. Ensuring that when your office is back up and running, it's back to business as usual.

    Extra cover and exclusions

    The types of cover we've outlined in this guide are the bear minimum a modern UK office should consider investing in to protect their wellbeing. In some circumstances it may be necessary to extend your cover to include other clauses. Say for example, if you happen to hold large quantities of cash on the premises. In which case you should look into Money Cover, in addition to those policies listed above.

    It's important to read your policy wording carefully before taking out any kind of office insurance. Perhaps with a solicitor or similar qualified legal advisor, if you are in any doubt whatsoever about the language and/or the provisions included. Insurance documents are binding and final and rarely do the clauses leave any room for doubt. So be sure you know what is - and what isn't - covered, before committing yourself.

    Likewise, be sure that you are aware of your own responsibilities in meeting the criteria of your office insurance policy. Take proactive measures to enforce each of these stipulations. Any breach of these terms will automatically invalidate your policy. So, for example, if you're required to keep all lockable doors locked during office hours, make sure this is adhered to. Or your insurer could have a case for not paying out.

    Office insurance premiums

    Finally, if you've been in business for some time, and you've yet to make a claim on any insurance policy, make sure this is known at the time you renew. A no-claims history is attractive to insurers and a good foundation for negotiating a reduction in your monthly or annual premiums.

    Office insurance is, as we've covered, a complex subject. But ultimately these policies exist to protect your people, your reputation and your business. So don't be tempted to cut corners where cover is concerned. As any astute business owner knows, operating without insurance isn't a risk worth taking.

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