Business insurance is a vital safeguard for you, your employees, and anyone else your business comes into contact with, including contractors and the general public.
If the worst should happen, and your business is at fault, failure to have adequate insurance in place could see you hit with punishing costs in the form of legal fees and compensation payouts.
That’s why you should take out a comprehensive insurance policy as soons as possible. But as some insurance is required by law, other insurance is advisable, and some isn’t necessary for your business, what should you actually include in your policy?
On this page we’ll explain the key types of insurance every business owner either needs or should seriously consider taking out.
Business insurance required by law
Employers’ liability insurance
If one of your employees suffers an accident, injury or illness as a result of working for your business, you could be liable.
Employers’ liability insurance, which is a legal requirement, covers any legal or compensation costs arising from a claim made against your business by a past or present employee.
Even if you have just one employee, you must have employers’ liability cover of at least £5m. Many policies offer a cover limit of £10m as standard. However, there are a limited number of exceptions, including if you are a publicly funded organisation or if you employ only family members.
Any business that does not have the required employers’ liability cover could be fined up to £2,500 for each day they do not have adequate cover in place.
If your business uses any motor vehicles, you’ll also need to have motor insurance.
You must have third-party motor insurance at a minimum, which covers you in the event that someone is injured or their property is damaged by one of your vehicles.
According to the law, your motor insurance policy must have unlimited cover for personal injury and at least £1m for property damage.
Additional covers for compensation claims and legal action
Your business could also be held liable if a customer or member of the public is injured or their property is damaged on your premises or as a result of your work.
That’s why, although it’s not a legal requirement, we’d strongly advise taking out public liability insurance, which can contribute to any compensation and legal costs if a claim is made by a member of the public.
If your business gives professional advice, you could also include professional indemnity insurance. This covers the cost of defending and settling claims against you for making a mistake, being negligent, or giving poor advice. For example, if your advice damages a client or customer’s reputation or causes them financial loss.
Professional indemnity insurance is not a legal requirement, but in certain sectors, there are professional bodies and regulators that require you to have a minimum level of cover.
If your business owns property, buildings insurance helps to pay for unexpected damage to the premises from something such as a fire or a flood. The cover can include accidental damage, as well as costs for things like identifying the source of a gas or water leak.
When deciding how much property insurance cover you need, you should take into account the cost of repairing or rebuilding the property, replacing any fixtures and fittings, and site clearance. As the rebuild cost is different to the property’s market value, don’t forget to include the cost of professional fees for a valuation assessment as well.
Even if you don’t own any property, you should probably have some level of contents insurance in place to cover the cost of theft or damage to any of your essential equipment, furnishings, fixtures, and stock.
Things could be going very well, but if a customer goes under or is unable to settle their invoices, it could seriously damage your cash flow and put your business at risk. That’s why trade credit insurance, which protects you if a customer pays late or becomes insolvent, is vital for any business that sells goods or services on credit terms.
It can also can give you the confidence to expand and build commercial relationships, and make your business more attractive to potential investors and partners.
As well as transforming the way businesses operate and interact with each other and their customers, the digital world has created a host of new threats, such as online fraud and data theft. Criminals could lock you out of your own IT systems, steal sensitive data, or trick you into handing over money.
That’s why any modern small business should seriously consider cyber insurance. It can help to cover the costs of getting you back up and running after a cyber attack and even repair any resulting reputational damage. It can also compensate you for loss of income caused by a data breach and offer financial protection against claims for falling foul of GDPR regulations.
Insulating your business from risk
The right blend of insurance policies can give you peace of mind by mitigating the debilitating costs of a lawsuit made against your business in the event of an accident, injury, or other disaster.
However, you’re not completely off the hook. You should still assess any potential risks up front and put in place measures that protect your business, employees, customers, and members of the public to minimise the chance that you’ll ever have to use your insurance.
Your insurer can give you advice on how to identify and manage risks effectively, and can provide support by responding quickly and effectively when things do go wrong.
And while there are many other more targeted and specialist types of insurance available, the above should form a large part of a comprehensive business insurance plan.
Find insurance for your small business now
Now that we’ve examined the key types of business insurance, you may have realised you want to look at your existing policies or sign up for new ones.
Why not use our free comparison tool to be matched with the most suitable provider for your needs.
Simply fill in our free quote-finding form, and answer a few questions about your business (it takes less than a minute). We’ll match you with the most appropriate insurance provider.