It may not be foremost in your mind when starting up, but getting the right insurance in place as a business owner is imperative. You simply must be covered when the unexpected strikes. Steven Daniels is the owner of Just Right Products UK & Europe. His business is the sole UK and Europe importer of What Knot, a device than can reportedly tie and unfasten almost any rope with a thickness between 3mm and 15mm. In this piece, he explains what provision he put in place and why.
What is the background of your company?
Our company was set up to exclusively import the What Knot into Europe while expanding the USA company of Just Right Products LLC.
I’ve run my own businesses for the last 24 years in a range of markets from print to stonemasonry. Now I import, wholesale and export. I’ve also held roles as an employee in the construction, rubber and print sectors.
What type of insurance did you require for your small business?
We have many polices from standard buildings insurance to liability insurance. We’ve had to increase these to meet our contractual obligations with major retailers. Some of our insurance is taken out on a per-load shipped basis. As we grow, this is likely to become a permanent fixture of our policy. Vehicle insurances are ongoing, of course.
How long after starting up did you get your insurance plan together?
We’ve had insurance from day one as we exhibited at the London Boat show where we were selling to the public, for which we had to add yet another policy. We had insurance for shipping and buildings already as well as the standard £5 million public liability insurance, which we’ve since doubled. Policies followed for product liability, employees, employers, stock and stock in transit. The list goes on, but if it’s a risk, we have to be insured.
How did you go about getting cover in place?
We used an independent consultancy that we’d used them at a previous business. They quoted us for all our expected needs. Looking back, we were over-insured as our expectations of growth were ahead of where we actually reached in terms of sales, stock holding, office equipment and staffing levels. The consultancy did the legwork for us. They visited us to get an idea of our needs and gave us advice based on our forecasts.
How important it is for your company to have this particular cover in place?
If you’re in business, you have to have insurance. Somebody or something is always at risk somewhere and, if possible, any blame will be moved onto you. Whether it’s for a van, a product, an employee, a broken window or break-in and theft, you have to be insured. It’s also important to get advice and talk to people who know what you need.
Have you had to claim? If so what were the details and what did you learn from the experience?
Luckily, we’ve not had to claim on our insurances in this business. However, we have in others, so wouldn’t be without it. When you close a business, you can suddenly face claims never mentioned before. Employees see no win no fee adverts on daytime TV and, if they’ve just been laid off, they’ll come out of the woodwork. We keep records from previous businesses for a long time, as you’re supposed to, but I’m sure many people don’t. You need back-up copies and physical evidence for any future claim that may crop up, however unscrupulous it may be.
What advice would you give to other companies getting their insurance cover together?
Go through a broker, they know far more than you do. They’ll contact many firms on your behalf and generally get a better deal than you’d get on your own.
Are there other policies you envisage taking out in future?
I’m sure as we grow, we’ll take out other insurances, such as health cover or specialist cover of some description. We’re not at risk of flooding as I’d never live or run a business near water or close to water level. You only add to costs and risk if you do and perhaps that should be reflected in rents. That may sound controversial, however it’s usually the business paying the rent that bears the insurance costs and the risks, not the landlord.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about your experience of getting insurance in place?
Although we over-insured to start with, another of my businesses tripled its initial forecast, so I know it’s a difficult thing to get right. Brokers come into their own when claiming, getting quotes and when advising you on what you must have, what would be nice to have and what you can add later as you grow.
Further reading on insurance