Here, Marcus Cannon, founder of InterFocus, discusses the insurance measures he put in place for his laboratory furniture company, including employee liability, contracts work cover and professional indemnity.
When did you start the business and why?
The business was started in 1988. There became a demand in the Cambridge area with the University and other research facilities for a local supplier of laboratory furniture. There was a need for a company that was local and reliable and could provide bespoke solutions. Previous to that, we supplied laboratory equipment and supplies to the same customers.
Talk about when you first attempted to insure your business.
It was 1988 and we needed public liability insurance and van insurance. Back then, the internet did not exist so in some ways it was actually easier – you had your traditional insurance brokers and people often chose one broker to provide all your services.
How did your policy needs change?
As the business grew our demands changed, we now have a much higher level of cover for public liability and now have professional indemnity insurance which years ago we never had to have.
Over the years, our industry has become more and more like the construction industry, we have also moved into an area specialising in laboratory construction projects, but with these areas comes increased risks and increases in insurance covers. We have very rarely had to make any claims and, I think, they have only ever been on building insurance. Construction inherently has more risks than traditional small businesses like shops. The key is effective management of those risks, having a good approach to health and safety, and ensuring staff are well trained in the risks – all these factors help minimise the potential for insurance risk.
Our current cover is employee liability: £10,000,000, public and products liability: £10,000,000, contracts work cover: £2,500,000, hired plant: £100,000 max per item and professional indemnity: £5,000,000. In addition, we have insurance cover for company vehicles, to reduce cost on the vehicle insurance, we implemented age limits for certain vehicles, so for vans the driver must be over 25; this helped reduce the costs of the insurance on these vehicles by reducing the risks associated with younger drivers.
What advice would you give to other business owners looking to get insurance in place?
My personal advice would be to shop around for the best deal for you. I work on the principle that cheapest is not always the best solution, so you need to find a good balance between what is affordable/cost effective and the confidence in the company providing/underwriting the insurance.