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Ask yourself these questions to be sure you're fully covered

Most business insurance policies cover all the common threats, like fire, theft and equipment failure. You can usually customise your policy too, by choosing levels of cover that match your particular requirements.

This means you can get sufficient cover without spending more than you need to. Most brokers can advise you on what you need and what you can do without, but it's worth asking yourself the following questions:

Do you own your own premises?

If so, insure them for the full cost of rebuilding, including professional fees (to pay for surveyors, architects, etc) and site clearance costs. If the worst happens, your business may be strapped for cash; the last thing you want is to be losing all your profit just to get back to where you were!

If you lease or licence your premises, find out what cover your landlord has, and whether it protects your interests. If there are gaps, you need to plug them.

Are you particularly at risk from theft?

Quote�Insure your stock at cost price - that way you can afford to replace it if necessary.�End Quote

Theft clauses should cover stock and equipment when there has been forcible or violent entry to, or exit from, a property. Insure your stock at cost price - that way you can afford to replace it if necessary. If you stock volumes vary, use your highest value.

You should insure everything you keep on your premises, even if your business doesn't own it. If something you lease from another company gets stolen, it's you who'll have to pay up otherwise. Lastly, it may be something you don't want to think about, but you can buy cover to protect against theft (and other forms of dishonesty) by employees.

What would happen if your equipment failed?

If the failure of a piece of equipment would stop you working, you can insure against this risk. Specialist computer policies protect you against the costs of breakdown and loss of information, and engineering policies cover most machinery against failure.

For extra peace-of-mind, comprehensive engineering policies will often include inspection and certification of your equipment as necessary, organised by the insurer. You can insure your equipment for the item's value less a deduction for wear-and-tear, or you can insure it on a 'replacement as new' basis.

Would you stay afloat if the worst happened?

Quote�Work out how long it will take you to fully recover, including regaining lost customers.�End Quote

The losses caused by something major happening - like a flood or a fire - can extend way beyond the value of the damage itself. If your premises are unusable then your bottom line is bound to take a hit. Business interruption insurance can cover you for any losses you incur above and beyond the cost of the damage. The aim is to keep you afloat until your business is back on its feet.

You can also get cover for loss of profits. This can vary massively between businesses, so get your broker to help you work out the sums involved and how much cover to buy.

Cover should include fixed costs, such as rent, as well as the extra costs of getting your business up and running again. You should make sure the cover lasts long enough. Twelve months is standard, but ask yourself if this is enough time to sort out the damage. Work out how long it will take you to fully recover, including regaining lost customers.

Do you keep money on your premises?

A standard insurance policy will usually cover money (including cash, cheques, stamps and other negotiable documents). If you routinely keep large amounts of cash on the premises, check the limits on your policy.

The level of cover will vary depending on whether the money is kept on the premises, in safes or in transit. Your business type and opening hours will also affect the level of cover - and your policy may also require you to vary banking times and routes or take other precautions. Your broker will be able to advise you on the specifics.

Do you need cover for goods in transit?

You can buy insurance to cover goods that get lost or damaged while they're being transported. The sum insured is usually a fixed amount for each vehicle or consignment, but it doesn't usually matter if the goods are in your company van or in the hands of a carrier - you can get insurance for either situation.

What next?

Have you thought about insuring your staff? If your business relies on one or two key people, then maybe you should. Find out more.

Find out how to cut the cost of insurance by buying it effectively.

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Finding a broker

One way of buying insurance is to purchase through a broker. If you haven't already found a broker to help with your business requirements, you can find a general broker in your local telephone directory.

However, please feel free to call 0115 948 7019 to discuss your needs with The Business Risk Solutions division of Lockton Companies, a specialist small business insurance broker who can give relevant advice as well as providing you with the cover you need. You can also email your enquiries to brs@uk.lockton.com.

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