A holistic way of insuring business risk

Graham Howard of Ready Steady Store discusses the insurance considerations of a multi-site self storage company.

Ready Steady Store has minimal risks so insurance measures were straightforward

Ready Steady Store has minimal risks so insurance measures were straightforward

The first self storage facility in Europe opened its doors in London nearly 40 years ago. Today, the industry in the UK is worth in excess of  £440 million a year and every day self storage operators manage nearly 40 million square feet of customised storage space for people who are on the threshold of major change both in their family or business lives.

Ready Steady Store, established in 2006, has grown organically by providing safe, accessible, cost-effective physical and mental space for thousands of people to create opportunities for expansion and re-invention. The company owns more than 375,000 square feet of space over ten sites throughout the UK, including Leeds, Doncaster, Manchester, Bournemouth, Wokingham, and Eastleigh. It provides self storage and storage solutions for both domestic and business customers, whatever their (largely) transitional requirements.

Catering for so many different needs, finding the right comprehensive insurance could quite easily be a minefield. Operations manager Graham Howard, having steered the fortunes of other self storage offers before joining the Ready Steady Store group, approached the insurance challenge creatively.

He explains, ‘As we are such a diverse industry, spread over different geographical sites, offering total flexibility to thousands of people with many varying needs, it is crucial that we mitigate all risks.

A straightforward business to insure

‘Business insurance is relatively straightforward as we are relatively low risk: we don’t manufacture; we don’t hold stock; we encounter very low levels of theft; customer claims are low; and our buildings are well maintained.’

However, thinking holistically, the company also has to consider the less tangible risks, particularly in relation to electronic data security, and keeping this information safe is a priority. Then, of course, there is the question of customer insurance.

‘Our customers are welcome to use an existing home or business contents policy if it covers possessions while in storage. We have, though, encountered problems with this kind of third party insurance in the past.

‘Household insurance may, for example, only cover storm damage if there is water ingress, and as such customers can find themselves exposed. A better alternative is to take advantage of our insurance cover.’

Claims

The company has had few customer insurance claims in its 11 years of trading.

‘The few claims we have occur invariably because another user is unaware of an issue, or because of inadequate packing. For example, a customer claimed on her insurance because the user in the unit above had stored his freezer before it had completely defrosted and water had trickled down into her unit below. Another brought a family member’s clothes into a unit, not realising that they had already attracted moths. It is impossible to foresee these occurrences, but if they happen, we want our customers to be fully protected.

‘When arranging our insurance, we benchmarked other leading companies in our industry and sought advice to ensure that all identifiable risks were assessed. We worked together to agree a bespoke insurance product that is approved by the Self Storage Association and can adequately fulfil both our business requirements and the needs of our 5000+ customers each year.’

Further reading on business insurance

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