Small business tips: Insurance for a jolly festive retailing season

News - see story Late night christmas shopping on Bridlesmith gate Nottingham. Post Photo - Matt Alexander - C101208MA4-4

Thinking about employing last minute seasonal staff to help with the busy Christmas period? Kieran McGeehan, head of SME business insurance at Co-op Insurance, offers his guidelines to ensure your insurance cover is valid and your business remains jolly this festive season.

While many SMEs will source temporary workers through an agency or advertise for additional members of staff, there are those who will rely on getting family and friends to offer support on an ad-hoc basis as they can be called upon at the last minute.

However, for people who are taking this ‘just in time’ approach to taking on extra helpers it is important to remember that being an employer comes with responsibilities and whether your business is a seasonal one, or just one that needs temporarily expanding for a few weeks or months, you are not exempt from business laws and employment regulations.

The Co-op Insurance offers some advice for SMEs to consider in preparation for the festive period:

  • If you are taking on additional employees, make sure they receive the right training for the job as it is still important to ensure they are suitable for the roles involved and they should also have a right to work in the UK.
  • Busy periods can also lead to an increase in seasonal profits which can mean more cash and more stock on the premises. As many people now work from home, this may not automatically be covered on your home insurance.
  • If you are transporting increased levels of money or goods about, you should check your insurance policy to make sure you have the right level of cover in place. Most business policies will cover this, but you should make sure the extent and scope of protection is right for you.
  • Ensure you have employer’s liability cover for the total number of people working on your premises at any one time – this should also include subcontractors.

While business insurance can cover you for numerous things, here are the main types to consider:

Employers liability – this is required by law
· This insurance covers you for any claims made by your staff for injury or illness that they believe have resulted from their work or have been caused by their workplace. Policies are likely to cover all conventional employees, casual workers and seasonal staff, in addition to temporary staff.

Public Liability
· This type of insurance provides cover for injuries to the public or damage to, or loss of, their property. This is a necessity if your business interacts with the general public. The term ‘public’ means anyone who is not classed as an employee, so it includes volunteers, activity participants, spectators and visitors.

Product liability
· This is similar to public liability insurance, as it provides protection for the business against compensation claims from a member of the public due to injury or damage but it varies to public liability cover because the injury or damage to a person is caused by a product that has been supplied, installed, maintained or manufactured by you. Be aware that you can be held liable for faulty products even if you are not the manufacturer, for example if your business repairs or refurbishes a product, you import it from outside the European Union or your business’s name appears on the product.

Property Insurance
· If you have a business where you are reliant on the tools of your trade then you should consider this type of cover. Most businesses would find it a struggle to carry on with no access to their place of work but if it would be difficult for you to continue if your business equipment or stock was destroyed, lost or stolen, then property insurance may be important.