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Insurance solutions: November 2013

November 2013: Gift Focus readers put their insurance queries, concerns and questions to leading brokers T.H. March

Q After successfully running a web-based giftware business part-time from home, I'm now planning to make it my full time career and so I'm looking for suitable premises. I don't really know where to start with regards to insurance cover. What key points do I need to bear in mind during my property search?

A This is a complex subject so you will need to obtain professional help. Go to an established insurance broker ('chartered' status is a good indication of standards and ethics) who can demonstrate an understanding of the insurance needs of the giftware trade. The broker will be able to advise not only on insuring the buildings but will also be able to help you to cover your stock, contents, shop frontage and glass, legal liabilities to the public and employees, loss of money and any business interruption risks. If you're renting a premises you will need to carefully check the lease terms to find out whether you or the landlord have to insure the buildings. If you're buying a property it's likely that the lender will insist on you arranging buildings insurance. An insurer will expect your premises to be well maintained, and preferably of brick or concrete block construction with a tiled roof (often referred to as standard construction) situated in an area which is not susceptible to flooding. Buildings which aren't of standard construction or are situated in a flood risk area are still insurable, but the premium charged is likely to be higher. Premises that are also occupied by other businesses could increase the premium depending on the trade involved. If the electrics are older than 15 years, some insurers will expect this to be checked by a qualified electrician. What is the security of the premises? You may need to improve the quality of the locks and install other protections.

Q I'm planning to attend trade fairs and exhibitions with my giftware stock. What does my insurer need to know

A You will need to provide details of the events and dates involved. Will any of the events be outdoors or in a tent or marquee? The insurer will also need to know the replacement values of the stock and any stand contents, fixtures and fittings you are taking and how they are being transported. Check your booking details as some organisers may require you to have a high level of Public Liability cover. You should also consider whether you need cover in case the event is cancelled or you are unable to attend for reasons beyond your control.

Q I'm considering taking on an employee to help me in my giftware retailing business. Do I need any extra insurance?

A Yes! You will need insurance cover for your new employee. With very few exceptions, by law you will need to arrange Employers' Liability insurance in respect of any person who works for you, even if only on a part-time basis. You will also need to display a certificate where your employee can see it to prove you have cover. To arrange cover your insurer will need to know what types of work the employee undertakes together with an estimate of their annual wages or salary. Some insurers will expect you to have in place a written Health and Safety policy. This is a requirement by law if you have five or more employees.

Further information: T.H. March is a chartered firm of insurance brokers. Established in 1887, the company has offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Sevenoaks, as well as its National Administration Centre in Yelverton near Plymouth. To find out more T: +44 (0)1822 855 555, E: giftware@thmarch.co.uk, or visit the website www.thmarch.co.uk

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