How do I know what insurance my co-operative needs?

Buying insurance can be a bit of a headache, whether you’re a small design co-op, or a national retailer. What types of insurance do you need? Who do...

Buying insurance can be a bit of a headache, whether you’re a small design co-op, or a national retailer. What types of insurance do you need? Who do you go with? What level of cover do you need? And what the heck is Cyber Liability?

While it’s not the most enthralling of subjects, insurance is essential. And if you don’t get the right level of cover, your business can be seriously compromised. So here, we’re attempting to demystify the process, with the help of the Co-op Insurance, which has a long history in insuring a range of co-operative businesses, and Alan Tattler from its broker partner Miles Smith.

Colin Butler, who heads up the Co-op Insurance’s business insurance, explains the partnership: “As a business insurer, and a co-operative ourselves, we are uniquely aware of the insurance needs that co-op’s have. We have partnered with Miles Smith to ensure that co-operatives across the country have access to the wide range of cover that they need, alongside expert advice from a group of people who have a wealth of experience in the sector.”

Alan Tattler is divisional director at Miles Smith Insurance Solutions. He moved to Miles Smith from Co-operative Insurance, and has more than 30 years’ experience of providing insurance to the co-operative sector.

The type of insurance cover you’ll need will differ depending on the size and nature of your co-operative. There are a lot of different types available, some of which are legal requirements.

Alan explains: “Most co-operatives need directors’ and officers’ insurance these days. Many will need professional indemnity. But these are add-ons to your core package of fire & theft, employers’ liability, public liability, and so on. As co-op businesses are so unique, we are well-versed in creating bespoke insurance packages to suit their needs.”

Related … Read more about co-operative insurance

While you may be tempted to go for the bare minimum, you’ll need to decide how you’ll cope if an unexpected expense arises that you’re not covered for. Take cyber attacks. According to the government, an estimated 81% of large corporations and 60% of small businesses suffered a cyber breach in 2014. The average cost of a cyber-security breach is a whopping £600k-£1.15m for large businesses and £65k-115k for SMEs.

If you’re not sure what types of insurance are essential, check out our guide.

Prices for insurance policies can vary enormously, so it does pay to shop around. You may not necessarily want to go for the cheapest quote, however. While it might look good initially, you could well find that the company is known for poor customer service, or that the policy has so many exclusion clauses that you won’t be covered if you need to make a claim.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) advises: “Don’t waste your potential profits on a policy that covers too much, and reversely don’t limit yourself to a cheap policy with a lack of cover.”

Businesses can be as guilty as Joe Public when it comes to just letting their insurance policy roll on from year to year.

It’s particularly tempting if there isn’t a notable increase in premiums. But the best deal you could find five years ago might not be the best one today.

Many businesses prefer to trust one insurer for all their needs. While that keeps it simple, it may not get you the best cover, or the best price. And, if your insurance needs aren’t straightforward, you might not be able to get everything you need from one insurer. No one wants to spend hours searching for the best deals, so it can save time and money to go through a broker.

Even if you do decide to stick with your current insurance company, you’ll need to review your policy each year, to make sure it still covers everything you need it to. You may also have to make changes throughout the year, if you expand your business premises, add extra cars to your fleet, or start offering new services, for example.

Related … So, what insurance should you think about?

Co-op Insurance partners with the insurance broker Miles Smith. Alan Tattler says: “One of the main co-op principles is ‘co-operation among co-operatives’. It keeps money flowing within the movement. This partnership makes Co-op Insurance more competitive; we can now access all the markets. So people can have the best of both worlds – they can choose to support the co-operative movement, and get the best deal at the same time.”

Customer service is given priority, as Alan explains: “Our customer retention rate is extremely high at over 95% and customer service is key to this. We aren’t brokers who sit behind our desks 24/7, we believe in meeting clients face-to-face whenever possible.”

Those clients include several of the major retail societies, including Heart of England, Clydebank, and Chelmsford Star, numerous agricultural co-ops, and the Co-operative Bank.

Miles Smith also has a dedicated small business service and works with lots of smaller co-operatives and charities, including some that have struggled to find insurance elsewhere. Alan told us of one car co-op that started with just a handful of cars, but now has several hundred. “A lot of people wouldn’t insure them at the start. We’ve been with them all the way through.”

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