29/05/09

Richard Stafford, Commercial Director at Quinn Insurance, provides his top five tips on the attributes small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should look for in an insurance provider.

Most businesses consider insurance to be a necessary evil there to protect them should the unforeseeable happen. As a result, it has become something of a commodity purchase. However, in order to get the most from their policy, they should instead look at it as an investment that will help them keep their business on track should they encounter trouble. In order to do this there are five key attributes SMEs should look for from their insurance provider when taking out or renewing their policy.

1. Proactive risk management

Check what additional services the insurance provider can supply to the business. Many insurers offer health and safety advice by compiling a risk assessment report. This can help businesses shore up previously unnoticed threats without creating any additional hassle for the company.

Additionally, the importance of working with an insurance provider who values processing claims quickly and effectively cannot be underestimated (our claims model has seen 85% of claims settled consistently within 90 days). Taking immediate action to ensure that an individual claimant is looked after establishes a sense of goodwill between them and the business, supporting the company’s reputation, which is essential when for customer loyalty and employee morale. Further to this, proactively handling claims helps SMEs avoid unnecessary legal costs which could cost thousands of pounds, consume a lot of time and increase future premiums.

2. Cost

In the current climate, when margins are tight, businesses must save money wherever they can. This statement is just as true for the insurance industry as it is for businesses in every other sector. Competition is intense amongst Insurers and Brokers alike. There are great savings to be made for any business willing to shop around. Do not to be afraid to ask for a competitive quote, provided it is within reason and that the policy on offer does not compromise the company’s needs.

3. Sector Specific Experience

Businesses in different sectors face different challenges. It is important that SMEs employ an insurer that has previously worked within their sector in order to understand the specific challenges that they face. For example, Quinn Insurance has sourced its team from a variety of backgrounds including construction, hospitality and retail, rather than exclusively employing people with only insurance industry experience. This translates though our approach to providing insurance services for clients, managing cover from a business standpoint based on our understanding of different industry sectors and their varying needs.

4. Ability to pay out for claims

When appointing an insurance provider it is important to enquire about their reserving approach (the funds set aside for anticipated losses), to ensure that they can afford to pay out on claims should the business suffer a covered loss. Different insurers calculate this in different ways. Quinn Insurance adopts a prudent reserving strategy that is reviewed by an independent auditor on an annual basis to insure its adequacy to cover potential losses.

5. SME Experience

Having only ever worked in the insurance industry, many insurance providers have no real understanding of how different SMEs function on a daily basis. For an insurer to adequately serve its customers it must have an insight into the small business sector and the environment in which it does business as distinct from a larger company operating in the same space. This is equally important from the SMEs point of view as it will have a significant impact on the way a business deals with its insurance provider and the relationship they develop. It can be very beneficial for SMEs to ask the insurance providers what particular experience they have in working with SMEs.

Insurance is not something that businesses should dread dealing with. It is elemental in risk management and provided the company is appropriately covered by a proactive insurer, it can be invaluable in maintaining the business’s positive reputation.

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