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With the festive season fast approaching no doubt your minds will be on how you’re going to celebrate this year and what plans you will have with your friends and family. What you might not be thinking about is your business insurance!

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year and many businesses, especially in the retail industry, will be holding more stock and taking on additional staff. In light of this, it’s very important that you check out your existing insurance policies to see how you’re covered over the Christmas season.

For example, will you have enough insurance cover to account for your additional stock? Some policies may have an element of seasonal cover built-in and allow for a certain amount of stock increase but it’s always worth checking your policy to make sure you are adequately covered and, if you’re not sure, speak to your insurer.

If you close your offices over the Christmas period for an extended period of time, it’s also worth checking the ‘unoccupancy’ condition in your policy to make sure it fits your needs. Burst water pipes is a typical problem that can happen with unoccupied premises, especially if it’s a particularly cold winter, so make sure that you have enough cover if something like this happens.

Employers’ Liability Insurance

Another consideration, if you intend to take on additional staff over Christmas, is the necessity for Employers’ Liability insurance. Taking out Employers’ Liability insurance is a legal requirement, even if you’re only recruiting people on a temporary basis. If you’ve never employed anybody before this is something that you might not immediately think of so if you do intend to take on any temporary workers over Christmas, speak to your insurer and make sure that you’ve got enough cover.

Even if you already have staff and Employers’ Liability cover in place, we would advise you to speak to your insurer to make sure that you have enough cover for any additional staff you take on.

Make sure you’re adequately covered

The unfortunate reality is that over Christmas there is likely to be an increase in shoplifting and break-ins, more accidental fires due to unattended candles or problems with fairy lights and an increase in accident & emergency visits. We’re not trying to put a dampener on things and the last thing we want is for any of this to happen but having peace of mind that you’re completely covered, if the worse happens, has got to be worth it.

If you need any extra insurance cover for Christmas or you’re unsure if your existing policy delivers what you need, please contact us now.

If you run a fleet of HGV vehicles then ensuring you have appropriate and adequate insurance cover is of the utmost importance. The success of your business is likely to depend on keeping your vehicles on the road so any time they are out of action is going to be a major concern.

From a definition perspective, any vehicle that is between 7.5 and 44 tonnes in weight is classed as HGV. When sorting out the insurance for your HGV vehicles there are a number of things you need to look out for such as:

  • How old your vehicles are and what the current market value is?
  • Whether you need fully comprehensive or third party cover. Market value will probably have a big bearing on this.
  • Whether you will be using the vehicles abroad. If you are then your policy needs to cover you for international journeys.
  • Who will be driving the vehicles? Naming all the drivers on the policy is likely to give you a more competitive premium.
  • The types of goods you are carrying. Insurance for transporting dangerous or hazardous goods is likely to be higher so it makes sense to tell your insurer about all the goods you are likely to be carrying to ensure you’re covered.
  • Do you want to include ‘goods in transit’ cover alongside the HGV cover so that all the vehicles’ contents are appropriately covered?
  • Is there likely to be a danger or risk of injury to third parties when loading or unloading the vehicles? If there is a chance that this might happen then you may also need to include public liability cover.
  • Do you want to have an insurance policy that also includes breakdown cover? This can be more convenient than having separate breakdown arrangements and will ensure that you can keep your vehicles on the road and deliveries on schedule.

Check your existing policies to see if they cover everything you want them too. HGV vehicle insurance can be complex with a wide variety of stipulations so you need to make sure that you are correctly covered. HGV insurance is too important to your business to under-insure so if there’s anything you’re unclear about or any questions that you want to ask, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

If you run a haulage company or any type of company that hires drivers, do you know the last time they had an eye test? Ensuring that your drivers have regular eye tests is critical if you don’t want to fall foul of the law and make your insurance policy invalid in the event of a road accident. With all the other considerations that you need to put in place for your drivers it’s very easy to lose sight of the requirement for eye tests ( if you can excuse the pun) but it’s definitely something that you need to have in place to make sure your insurance is validated. Checking that your drivers are safe to drive As a result of European directives, the requirement for drivers in the workplace to have regular eye tests became a part of UK law in 2013. As part of the directive, drivers need to pass a European Union eyesight standard to ensure that they are safe to drive. These tests include: A standard eyesight check – this is where the driver is asked to accurately read a vehicle registration plate from a distance of 20 metres. If the driver fails the test they are required to undergo a full eyesight check. A visual acuity check – this is where the driver is asked to accurately read letters from a wall chart. Once again, failure of this test would require a full eyesight check. Field of vision test – if your drivers are required to drive buses, coaches or HGVs then they are required to achieve a higher pass level in this area in order to be allowed to drive. In all of the above, if your drivers currently wear glasses or contact lenses then they need to wear them during the tests. Keep a record of all eyesight tests The law states that your drivers need to have eye tests every five years and it’s your responsibility to keep a record of these tests and the results. If you don’t know the last time your drivers had an eye test then we urge you to get these tests done as soon as possible, keep a record and make sure you keep monitoring it. This means that if you have a driver who steps up from driving a van to a HGV, they need to be retested to make sure their eyesight is good enough to drive that class of vehicle. It sounds harsh but if any of your drivers fail these tests then they should be suspended from driving until they are able to pass. There’s too much at stake to allow them to drive and as an employer you will be liable if an accident was to happen. If you’re unsure about the detail of your business insurance cover and how eye testing forms a part of your policy requirements then please get in touch, we would be happy to advise.

Go on admit it – chances are you don’t know the difference between professional indemnity and public liability.

You are not alone. Lots of people are kept awake at night pondering this thorny issue.

Okay, maybe not, but it is important.

Knowing which is which and how they can safeguard your business really is worth knowing.

Here’s our rundown of this key pair of policies:

Professional indemnity insurance

This cover is primarily designed to cover you in the case of making a mistake in your work. It’s designed to offer protection to any business that gives advice, handles client data or deal with intellectual property.

If your client accuses your company of affecting their business, even if you haven’t done anything wrong, the cost of defending yourself against a claim could become eye wateringly high. This is where good professional indemnity insurance comes into its own: covering legal costs as well as compensation claims up to the limit of your policy.

How much cover do I need?

It can be difficult to estimate how much cover you need, think about your clients; imagine the financial loss they could suffer if something went wrong. It’s possible for any business to make a mistake and even if you think the advice you’ve given is watertight, it could later turn out to be faulty.

Cover limits for PI insurance usually starts at £50,000 and can go as high as £5 million.

What is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance is the most common type of insurance taken out by small businesses, but with a range of cover options available, it's just as well-suited to larger firms.

Public liability insurance generally covers your business if someone is injured in some way by your business, or if you damage third party property when carrying out work. Bear in mind that even a minor scratch to personal property could lead to hefty fines, especially as you could be required to pay legal fees if the case goes to court, and these too will be covered by your policy.

Just because you run a small business don't assume you will be safe without public liability. Something as simple as a coffee spill over a client's computer, or a loose nail causing a customer to trip while visiting your office, could cost you thousands if you're uninsured.

When taking out public liability insurance, you need to tell your insurer what type of business you are. This will help you come to an agreement over the type of policy best suited to you.

HGV Fleet Insurance - Our latest clients renewal came in at £6500 per vehicle from a well known large national broker. We took the time too assess the clients exact needs and the problems faced with the risk management. We suggested the client fitted GPS units along with Camera units which initially the client was reluctant to do so. But after all the benefits were explained too the client they came on board immediately. We managed to renegotiate with the insurers and reduced his premium to £3800 per vehicle apposed to £6500 per vehicle, with 10 vehicles it was a substantial saving. So if you require an impartial review of your HGV Fleet Insurance give us a call today to see how we can help to improve your risk management.

hgv fleet insurance

counterpart-driving-licence_thumb (1)Did you know that paper counterpart licences were due to be abolished in January 2015? Due to concerns raised about the move, this has now been put back until June 8 of this year. The paper counterpart licence will not be valid and will no longer be issued by DVLA. Drivers will be expected to destroy the paper versions of their licences -- but  you will still be required to hang on to your current photo card. However, it will still be possible to use the counterpart driving licence to change your address with the DVLA. Or perhaps easier, you can also amend your address details online. From 8 June 2015 penalty points and endorsements will no longer be recorded on paper driving licences. This information will be held on DVLA’s driver record, and will be accessible to licence holders online, by phone or through the post. More information and advice regarding the proposed changes can be found here: BVRLA (British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association) website What does this mean for motor insurance? The BBC reported last year that moving all driving records online could reduce the cost of car insurance. It was reported that "honest" motorists could see premiums fall by up to £15 a year. Insurers can’t currently check licence or traffic offence details when they sell policies, meaning they have to "price in" risk factors. The Association of British Insurers says premiums are pushed up by companies having to take account of the risk that drivers either do not tell the truth about speeding points to get a lower quote, or simply make a mistake. "Significant cost savings" would also result from "reducing the need to obtain paper copies of licences from policyholders", the association added. A system due to be launched by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will allow insurers to access the information using an individual's licence number.  "This will enable insurers, for example, to price much more accurately, because they will not have to take anything on trust," he said.

Sometimes we think we wouldn’t be believed if we revealed how many of our clients were underinsured when they came to us! Put another way, if we were paid £10 for every time this was the case, we reckon we could be retiring to the sun sometime soon! Back in 2012 a national survey showed a staggering 80% of companies were underinsured – unbelievable! Commercial insurance is pretty straightforward if you ask us -- that’s why we can take care of it so well for you. But time and time again bosses have not grasped all they should about what they need or sadly, they may have had poor advice from their current broker. A later survey, from 2014, concluded some 62% of respondents were underinsured due to lacking in business interruption insurance – many responded they didn’t even know if this was included in the insurance they had paid for. Just wow. Can you imagine such a lack of scrutiny in other areas of your business? Would anyone take such a laid back attitude to credit control or sales? Inevitably then and unfortunately, you may only actually find out your company is underinsured when something terrible happens – so you really don’t want to leave this to chance. What do we mean ‘something terrible’? Well how about the following for starters – all predicaments that can be adequately covered with the right insurance:

  • Flooding
  • Fire
  • Data breach/cyber attack

Yes it really is that simple – can you afford not to have a policy in place against these catastrophes? Don’t get complacent – and don’t let your broker neglect your developing needs. Overlooking updating your insurance – or choosing to ignore growth in the hope of saving money -- could mean you are only insured for the initial market value. That means you would only be partially covered in the event of a disaster. Short-term savings could never truly make up for payments needed towards your insurance if the worst happened. And what if you had to close for a while as damage was repaired – it really doesn’t bear thinking about. Put this right by: Speaking to Falcon to review your policies to make sure they are as they should be. Sure, you could crunch the numbers yourself, but if you haven’t been able to get on top of this up to now, trust us, let us respectfully suggest you may just need our help.

From April this year, more and more pensioners are expected to invest in property. Many on the verge of retiring will look to the sector as a new way of making money – something they may not have considered before. Such a change is attributed to more financial freedom afforded by Government pension reforms inspiring investment in buy to let properties. Neil Woodhead, founder of Ready Rentals, an online support service for private landlords, says: “We have noticed a greater interest from in becoming a part of the buy-to-let market in response to the new legislation. "Some of these 'silver' clients are looking to release money from their pension and others have had money tied up in bonds that are coming to an end." Other silver buyers are approaching the buy-to-let market from another interesting angle when it comes to funding their retirement – these are creating a "piecemeal portfolio", having previously purchased a single large buy-to-let property and, in light of the changes in the market, are diversifying by selling the property to buy two or smaller rental properties instead. The reasoning behind this move is a decision to purchase cheaper properties in areas where long-term capital growth is not as substantial but shorter-term rental yields are. Mr Woodhead said: "One client has sold a modern flat for £160,000 (originally bought for £110,000) and has now purchased two one-bedroomed flats in a cheaper area instead for £28,000 each. This move has ensured that his rental per month has in fact grown from £550 to £730. "Upon retirement, he originally had the view to sell the property and reinvest in a pension fund but instead took the option to change tack. He could see greater benefits in looking for regular rental income rather than longer-term capital growth and his story provides a good example of how those of retirement age are now looking at bricks and mortar differently." It certainly seems to be a growing trend. A recent survey by Platinum Property Partners revealed that a third of those heading for retirement are considering purchasing a buy-to-let property or properties.

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