Revealed: one million small firms are not insured

Written by: Rachel Miller

Date: 25 June 2024

A street food vendor takes a risk without insurance

A new survey has found that a staggering one million UK small businesses have no business insurance, leaving them at financial risk in the event of an accident or a lawsuit.

A poll of small businesses conducted by Uswitch Business Insurance has found that one million SMEs don't have business insurance. Of these uninsured businesses, nearly half (47%) say that their company is "too small" to warrant an insurance policy. In addition, research conducted by Aviva has found that 31% of SMEs don't have employer's liability insurance - which is a legal requirement.

Andy Elder, Uswitch business insurance expert, said: "As a business owner, it's important to obtain insurance not only for legal and compliance reasons - many local regulations require vendors to have insurance - but also for financial protection of your business. Insurance protects against potential monetary losses due to accidents, property damage or lawsuits."

The Uswitch findings suggest that many food and drink vendors - especially seasonal businesses and summer pop-ups - are taking a significant risk by opting not to get business insurance.

Insurance for hospitality businesses is vital, says Andy Elder. "Almost half of insurance claims against directors and officers in hospitality relate to health and safety, and accidents do happen, so insurance should not be considered optional. Furthermore, a recent survey found 10% of SMEs wouldn't survive if they had to pay more than £10,000 (if not covered).

"Having insurance also tends to enhance your business's reputation and credibility with customers and event organisers, making sales more likely. Finally, peace of mind is not to be underestimated - knowing you are covered allows you to focus on running your business without worrying about unforeseen events."

Key types of business insurance

Public liability insurance: Protects against third-party claims of bodily injury, property damage and personal injury - such as a customer slipping and falling.

Product liability insurance: Protects against claims related to the food you sell, such as food poisoning or allergic reactions. Payouts for a food poisoning case can range from £910 to £52,500.

Commercial property insurance: Covers loss or damage to equipment, inventory and supplies due to events like fire, theft or vandalism.

Employer liability insurance: A legal requirement, this insurance provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.

Business interruption insurance: Covers loss of income and operating expenses if your business is temporarily halted due to a covered event.

Car insurance: Protects against damages and liability if your business vehicle is involved in an accident.

Insurance guidelines for small food businesses

Uswitch has put together a guide to help food and drink vendors running pop-ups find the right insurance. It recommends:

  • Read the insurance policy thoroughly to understand all terms, conditions, and exclusions. Clarify any doubts with the insurance provider if you don't fully understand.
  • Adhere to local health codes and food safety standards. Maintain cleanliness and proper sanitation of the food preparation and serving areas.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain cooking and serving equipment. Keep maintenance records as proof of due diligence.
  • Document all business activities, including sales, inventory, employee details and safety inspections. Maintain up-to-date records.
  • Inform the insurance company about any significant changes in business operations, such as changes in menu, location or equipment. Ensure the policy is updated to reflect these changes.

It has also highlighted some of the common  mistakes that could invalidate your policy:

  • Failing to disclose relevant information, such as past claims, changes in business operations or installation of new equipment.
  • Not adhering to the policy conditions, such as maintaining fire extinguishers or having regular pest control.
  • Skipping regular maintenance checks and servicing of equipment.
  • Lack of proper documentation and record-keeping.
  • Failing to obtain or renew necessary business and health licences.
  • Providing incorrect information about the value of the business, stock or equipment, leading to inadequate or excessive coverage.
  • Delaying the reporting of incidents or claims to the insurer.
  • Not providing the necessary documentation.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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