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How to Prepare for Unexpected Risks in your Business

Most small business owners are born optimists. After all, why take the plunge unless you’re confident you can stay afloat? But positive thinking can only take you so far. To succeed in business and stay on course, you also need to think about what could possibly go wrong and seek the help of an expert.

All business involves risk. From natural disasters, such as fire and flood, to theft, or building works on your doorstep that disrupt your trade. It’s impossible to predict, let alone prevent, all future risks. But there are 4 key steps to take to reduce the impact on your business. Do it right and you won’t just survive, you could thrive.

 

1. Identify your risks.

The first thing to do is to compile a list of risks you could potentially face. It would be helpful at this point to tap into the experience of an insurance broker, a business mentor or your business networks. The government also has an online guide to help you assess your business risks, which you will find, here.

Every business is different and so are the risks they face. For example, if you run a retail food outlet and rely on refrigeration, then a power outage could result in stock losses. Worse still, your customers could suffer from food poisoning. Or if you run an online business and your internet connection is down for hours or days, you risk losing business and customer goodwill.

As well as physical risk to your business property, employees or clients, think about potential disruption to the market you operate in and less tangible things, such as risks to your business reputation.

An insurance broker can work with you, to help identify your insurable risks. With this advice you can then make an informed decision to find the right cover to protect your business against the unexpected.

2. Managing risks.

Once you’ve identified your risks, it’s time to put in place some strategies to manage them. The best time to consider your risk management strategy is when you draw up your business plan. If you haven’t already done so, download a template here. Don’t forget you will need to revisit your risk strategy and update insurances as your business grows.

Just as there are many ways to bake a cake, there are many ways to manage risk. Find some suggestions to get you thinking on the government’s business portal.

You can also cost-effectively reduce some risks with simple actions, such as backing up your computer data, installing smoke alarms or providing your staff with safety training. Likewise you could also consider outsourcing tasks, such as bookkeeping or computer networking, to reduce your risk of costly errors or malfunctions.

You can also buy protection against many business risks through insurance. Some insurances are required by law, such as workers’ compensation to cover injuries to your employees or professional indemnity for certain occupations. Others simply make good business sense, such as management liability. Speak to your insurance broker for tailored advice.

3. Cover all bases.

Most people understand the need to insure their business assets, such as buildings, contents and motor vehicles for events such as fire, theft or damage. But business interruption insurance is arguably just as important. This helps cover any loss of revenue if you are prevented from trading due to an unforeseen event. It also provides cover where you cannot access your premises due to damage to adjoining premises.

Even if you are working from home, you may need to consider public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance. These offer protection if a client is injured on your home turf or takes legal action against you as a result of your professional advice.

4. Seek advice.

Steadfast insurance brokers have in-depth knowledge of insurance products and can suggest a business insurance package tailored to suit your business. This is often more cost-effective than putting together a patchwork of single policies that could leave you exposed.

Now you’ve taken the plunge and started your own business, don’t jeopardise all your hard work by failing to take account of the risks. With a bit of thought, and help from experts, you can put a plan in place to help you bounce back if disaster strikes.

Contact us..we’d be happy to help with any business risk planning for your business.

 

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100 Insurance & Business Articles to Enjoy

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5 Business Growth Ideas

Article by Macquarie Business Banking

Statewide’s long-term banking partner Macquarie, takes a look at 5 areas to consider before you disrupt your industry

Disrupting your industry means challenging the status quo while offering something much more than change.

Disruption can come from anywhere and in this technology-filled world where everyone can access the latest information, the size of a business doesn’t necessarily reflect its ability to disrupt. Before you start you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you doing it for?
  • Do you have 100% employee/investor buy-in?
  • Are you ready to think outside the box and bigger?

With these questions in mind, and the following tips, Macquarie wants to help you realise your potential and seize the opportunities for growth.

1. Embrace the power of the idea

It’s time to relinquish the long-held belief that the most important factor, when making major changes, is the business behind you.

When you explore new opportunities it’s wise to take into account the prospects for enhancement or reinvention that may already exist and areas of your business that you could improve.

Small players can think big and, thanks to innovations such as crowdfunding, the cloud and client reach through social media, they can effect very valuable disruptions for a fraction of the cost.

2. Set new benchmarks in customer experience

The digital era means the way services are delivered to customers has fundamentally changed in almost every sector.

Take advantage of the tools at your fingertips. Identify what your customers are looking for in your industry, where they occur in the user journey and then use digital pathways to eliminate them.

Find ways to simplify, streamline and enrich the customer experience and you are likely to cement customer loyalty. It could be as straightforward as rethinking the way you communicate with your customers for follow-ups and servicing.

Take advantage of the tools at your fingertips. Identify the customer pain points in your industry, find out where they occur in the user journey and use digital pathways to eliminate them.

3. The rise of digital devices

The ever-emerging network of digital physical objects and advanced connectivity is taking communication beyond computer-to-computer interactions.

According to a market forecast from ABI Research, by 2020, the number of devices connected to the internet is expected to exceed 40 billion. And that’s just the start.

We are already seeing technology such as smart thermostat systems in washer/dryers that can facilitate remote monitoring via Wi-Fi. Soon, embedded devices, such as built-in sensors in transportation and medical equipment, will collect and autonomously transmit data between other devices.

This is the beginning of automation in nearly all industries and fields.

4. Capitalise on new technologies and collaborations

Nothing invigorates a disruption like a fresh approach.

Whether that fresh set of eyes comes in the form of emerging technology, or it’s the acquisition of new skills and experience, reaching out in this way can change ‘What if?’ to ‘Why not!’ for your business.

Think about 3D printing and the drones for B2B delivery. These technologies may enable the creation and delivery of a wide range of physical items quickly, cheaply and potentially with a reduced impact on our environment.

5. Reinvent your culture

Effective disruption cannot happen in a company culture that does not foster and celebrate innovation.

Encourage networking, transparency, the sharing of ideas and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to take strategic risks. Providing a safe space for employees to test, learn and revise is crucial to originality and improvement. Empower your people.

Planning on growing your business and disrupting your industry? 

Talk to us at Statewide to discuss your risk management needs for your business.

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Professional Indemnity Analysed

Professional indemnity insurance provides you, your business and your employees, with protection for financial claims made against you or your business. This type of cover is designed for employees or businesses that give advice and/or provide a service to individuals or businesses, and are looking for a form of protection against legal claims not covered under general insurance policies. Professional indemnity insurance does not generally provide cover for criminal prosecution and a number of other liabilities recognised under criminal law, though other forms of insurance may cover these.

Do I actually need professional indemnity insurance?

Any worker that provides another person advice and/or a service of skilful nature that has required previous training for an established discipline is recognised as a professional.

There is legislation in place in Australia to regulate the provision of services by professionals. Despite this, mistakes can and do happen in the workplace and will often lead to the professional’s client seeking compensation for damages. A professional can still be liable for losses even if the mistake was not a result of their own negligence. Professional indemnity insurance ensures your business can continue to operate despite having to cover legal costs.

Do you own your own business or provide a service?

Most Australian workers are covered under their employer’s liability cover, however any worker carrying out any consulting or contracting work must ensure that they have adequate and appropriate professional indemnity insurance in place. All professionals should take the time to review the current cover they have in place and assess whether it is worth them taking out additional cover to ensure they are protected from claims against errors or omissions they have made in the provision of their professional activities.

Professions that generally require professional indemnity insurance

As mentioned previously, anyone that provides advice or a service to another in an established discipline is a potential candidate for professional indemnity insurance. Some typical professions that will usually require professional indemnity insurance include:

  • Consultants
    IT professionals
    Accountants
    Architects and designers
    BAS Agents
    Engineers
    Finance and mortgage brokers
    Nurses
    Real Estate Agents
    Recruitment Consultants
    Beauty, Massage and Physiotherapists
    Psychologists
    Travel Agents and Tour Operators
    Veterinarians

Many professions work closely with Australian governing bodies to determine an appropriate level of professional indemnity cover that is required for their profession. Regulations around what types of insurance are mandatory for different industries can vary from state to state. It might be best to consult with your industry body to get a clear understanding of the specific types of cover you require.

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Does work that is supervised require professional indemnity insurance?

Just because the work is supervised by a principal of the company is no reason for workers to think that they may not be liable to defend claims for negligence. In the event that they end up in court on claims for negligence, the cost of legal fees and advice alone could quickly amount to tens of thousands of dollars. This may only be the start of a potential financial nightmare if they are found to be liable.

Do contract workers need professional indemnity insurance?

There have been cases in Australia where contract workers and consultant have still been found to be negligent despite carrying out duties given by principal with whom they were employed. Many companies will now require contract workers to have both professional indemnity insurance and public liability cover in place. If the work the contract worker performs causes damages, they are liable for claims from the employing company.

What does professional indemnity insurance actually cover?

Essentially, professional indemnity is designed to cover the policyholder for any legal costs that may be incurred if a client files a claim. Any ensuing compensation that may be required to be paid to the client from the individual or business is also covered. Comprehensive policies will offer cover for claims from clients for financial loss, bodily harm or damage to property due to errors in the provision of the service.

Typical civil liabilities covered under a policy include:

  • Breach of duty. Indemnifies the insured for claims arising out of breach of duties including confidentiality, privacy or fiduciary duty
  • Consumer protection liability. Claims for compensation resulting from violation of statutory duty
  • Contractual liability. Claims breach of contractual agreement that can be enforced in court
  • Breach of Competition and Consumer Act and Fair Trading Acts. Indemnifies policyholder for claims arising for breach of Competition and Consumer Act and Fair Trading Acts (Australia and New Zealand)
  • Intellectual property. Claims made for the infringement of the use of intellectual property. Most policies will require for the act to be unintentional and for the purpose of the provision of the service
  • Unintentional defamation. Unintentional publication of words believed to be defamatory of the client if the insured made the comments innocently
  • Contractors or consultants. Liability arising from services provided by contractors or consultants. Indemnity will only provide cover for the policyholder and will not extend to the contractors and/or consultants that have provided the service
  • Libel or slander: Liability arising from libel or slander by the insured to the client provided that it was committed during the provision of their professional service and that it was unintentional
  • Loss of documents. Loss or damage to the clients documents during the provision of the insured’s service
    Misleading and deceptive conduct. Claims arising where the policyholder has engaged in conduct that is misleading or deceptive in the provision of their service as outlined under the ASIC Act 2001
  • Compensation for court appearance. In the event that the policyholder’s legal advisers require the principal or employee of the policyholder’s business to appear in court, the policyholder will be provided with compensation equal to their daily salary to a maximum amount
  • Claims investigations costs. Compensation for costs incurred to investigate claims paid in addition to the maximum limit provided under the policy for Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions
  • Dishonesty of employees. Policyholder will be compensated for liability in respect of claims made that were the result of dishonest, fraudulent, criminal or malicious acts or omission by an employee of the insured during the provision of their service
  • Inquiry costs. Compensation for costs arising out of inquiries into the insured’s liability
  • Joint venture liability. Compensation arising from the insured’s participation in any joint-venture related to their professional service
  • Legal consultation costs. Compensation for costs incurred from legal consultation to the policyholder in the event of a claim
  • Public relations expenses. Indemnifies the policyholder for adverse public relations expenses that arise during the policy period
  • Spouse liability. In the event that a claim is made against the policyholders spouse, the claim will be treated as the liability of the insured’s
  • Extension of claim period. In the event that a claim is made against the insured up to a specified number of days following the expiry of the policy, the insured will still remain covered under the policy

The conditions of the cover features listed above will each have their own set of conditions for compensation to be paid which may vary greatly between policies. It is crucial that anyone looking to take out cover is absolutely clear on the requirements for a claim to be paid and the maximum compensation that they stand to receive under claim.

 

Who Is Covered Under A Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy?

Professional indemnity insurance must be able to provide adequate cover for the insured to be protected from any civil liabilities that may arise from the provision of their service either from themselves or by others working on their behalf. This cover must be broad enough to extend to past, current and future work. Professional indemnity policies will generally provide cover for:

  • Each party identified in the policy schedule. This may include people, firms or incorporated bodies
    Past, present and future principals
  • Any entity that is created or under the control of the insured that performs a professional service during the policy period
  • Past, present and future employees of the insured. This may extend to include volunteer workers and students
  • Liability of the principal from previous business conducted for the same service that is listed under the current schedule
  • Entities that have previously traded with the business insured under the policy
  • Subsidiary companies of the insured
  • The insured’s spouse
  • Legal entities of the insured
  • Some (but not all) policies may also include cover for:
  • Joint venture liability
  • Liability for professional service that has been provided by an agent or consultant

How is professional indemnity insurance different to public liability insurance?

Everyone is regulated under common law to not cause damage to anyone or their property or to cause them any financial loss. This liability is known as ones general duty of care and is separate to the professional liability that professionals have in the provision of their business to ensure that their client does not suffer any injury, damages to property or financial loss.

Professional Indemnity Public liability Insurance
  • Covers legal liability for claims arising from an act, error or omission of duty by the professional
  • Cover can include claims for personal injury, professional injury or financial loss
  • Provides cover for claims made for actual breaches of professional duty
  • Provides cover for legal liability due to personal injury or property damage caused by your business
  • Product liability is an extension of public liability providing cover for personal injury or damage caused by the use of your products
  • Cover may not always extend to claims for financial loss if there has been on injury or damage
  • Event giving rise to the claim will often have to occur within the period of insurance for cover to apply
  • The claimant must be able to establish that the cause of the loss has direct connection to the business.

 

Learn More

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Cyber Insurance, A Novel of 2017

 

View our Slideshare for more Documents and Slides

 

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New Year’s Resolutions For Your Business

 

The Christmas-New Year holidays are a time to unwind, refresh and recharge your batteries. It’s also a time to reflect on the year that was and make some resolutions for the year ahead. Many of us do a personal stocktake at this time of year, but what about your business?

The challenge for many small business owners is that they don’t feel they can take a break. Or if they do, they’re plugged into work 24/7 via their mobile devices. The problem is that not switching off can be bad for your relationships and wellbeing.

The constant juggling of commitments to family, friends and your business can be stressful, especially over the Christmas holidays, which is all the more reason to step back and take stock.

Australian business coach, Jon Dale points out that you need to make a conscious decision to switch off the phone at certain times of your down time – for your own good.

SMART planning

If you want your New Year’s resolutions for your business to be more than wishful thinking, they need to be SMART. As in specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to review your risk management strategy to reflect the rapid growth in your business.

Start by investigating your level of insurance to ensure you’re adequately covered. Make an appointment with your Steadfast insurance broker to review and update your cover.

Business coach Dale suggest setting a time frame to achieve each of your goals, then tracking and monitoring your progress, you are more likely to be celebrating your success this time next year.

It’s also important to undertake an annual SWOT analysis to identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Dale suggests you begin your review by asking what kind of business you want to build, what’s happening in the business now and what’s getting in the way or frustrating you. Once you identify any problems you can begin to build a bridge between what’s happening now and what you want to achieve.

When you are asking these questions and devising remedies, it’s helpful to break your business down into marketing, sales, operations, administration, you and your team. “In terms of building and growing a business, you can think of just about everything in one of these six areas”, says Dale.

It’s also helpful to share your goals with your staff so everyone knows where the business is headed and what you are trying to achieve. These goals should also be incorporated into your business plan where they will become objectives. If you haven’t got a written plan, you’ll find a template and tips to get you started, here.

 

 

Making time for change

If you know you have trouble sticking to a plan, then enlist some help. You could try one of the many goal setting and tracking apps available. Some will also track your team or multiple teams.

If you prefer the personal touch, then you could sign up with a business coach.  Their job is to act as a sounding board, helping you develop your business plan and stick to it. In other words, they bring accountability into the process.

Alternatively, you could buddy up with a mate, a business partner or someone from your industry to hold you accountable. Psychologists often suggest using this strategy to get people to maintain an exercise routine, and it’s no different for your business. Dale says you are more likely to stick to your business plan if you’ve made a commitment to another person.

Taking time out over the busy summer holidays is never easy, but it’s worth it. Research shows that stress blocks creativity, mental clarity and the ability to focus, all of which are crucial to business success.

So this holiday season, make sure to take time out to reflect and review your business plan. Also make sure that your business insurances have kept pace with your growing business. In time, your family and employees may thank you for it.

Article reproduced from Steadfast ‘Well Covered’

 

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Are Your Employees on Social Media?

 

Social media is big business these days.

Over half of Australia’s population is on Facebook, more than 4 million are on Tumblr, and Instagram boasts similarly large numbers. But besides LinkedIn, most social networks serve more purposes than just the professional realm.

This substantial growth of social media adoption brings with it unique risks to businesses that they once didn’t have to worry about. One of these chief risks is that an employee of your business can post questionable content to their social media accounts, which could, by extension, have a potential impact on your business’s image. Then there is also the risk of a disgruntled employee publicly stating their hatred for the company or even you.

This is thanks, in part, to the spontaneous nature of social media. Where someone can quickly share updates of a positive, negative or questionable nature dependent on their emotional state at the time. But as a business, do you have any right to ban employees from using social media or, at the very least, associating their personal accounts with your place of work?

 

To ban or not to ban

Truth is, banning your employees from social media may not go down that well. After all, it’s a valid argument for them to state that their personal lives and accounts are none of your business, and that’s because they aren’t. Choosing to dictate what an employee can or cannot do or post outside of work hours is a slippery slope, and the type of rule that can turn potential employees off from applying.

You may have some right to express concern if they have public social media profiles, which are commonly found with social networks such as Twitter and Instagram, but for those social networks where they may already employ stronger privacy settings (e.g. Facebook), trying to control their behaviour on those networks could be met with resistance.

You want to have happy employees who are proud to consider themselves a part of your team. Going the draconian route where you monitor and dictate their online behaviour tends to be frowned upon – especially in an age where people are more and more concerned about their privacy, autonomy, and rights to free expression.

So if banning them from social media worries you in terms of employee backlash, what other options are there?

 

A social media policy

One option is to create a social media policy. A policy such as this usually covers both how social media posts should be presented under your business accounts and how employees should conduct themselves on their own social media accounts. This can include rules such as ensuring they include a disclaimer that says: “My views do not reflect those of my employer”. Other rules could be that they’re not allowed to upload any photos of them in company attire unless explicitly permitted, that certain types of posts (e.g. photos of them intoxicated) cannot be uploaded, and so on.

Social media policies can work for some businesses and be relatively ineffective for others. You could trial some policy rules and see if employees are happy to adhere to them, or even set these rules only for their public social media accounts. Other rules can be refined, such as one that states they can upload candid photos of themselves in casual settings (i.e. having drinks), for example, provided those photos are set to “friends only” and that their profile and cover photo are of an acceptable nature.

 

Complete disassociation with your brand

Apple is one prime example of a company that places massive restrictions on what its employees are allowed to divulge about their jobs outside of work. These rules include that employees can’t wear Apple attire outside of the workplace, they’re not permitted to list the company they work for on social media profiles (LinkedIn is a single exception), and any talk of Apple cannot be done in a promotional/professional level. In other words, their position as an Apple employee remains at work and is almost entirely banned from being discussed on social media.

While this could come off as extreme, in many ways it’s a logical system. It essentially means your employees are allowed to be on social media and act however they want on it, and they can do so without presenting any real image risk for your company. You’d likely find that this approach will be considered more agreeable by your employees than outright banning them from social media.

You can find links to all of Statewide’s social media profiles in SOCIAL menu item

 

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Statewide Wins Top 10 Brokerage Award

Statewide is proud to have been nominated and awarded a prestigious position in Australia’s Top 10 Brokerages for 2016.

A little word from Insurance Business…

Welcome to the 2016 Insurance Business Top 10 Brokerages special report. That time of year has again arrived, when Insurance Business rates and ranks Australia’s independent brokerages to conclude who can lay claim to being Australia’s Top Brokerage of the Year.

Competition is as tough as it’s ever been, with new brokerages throwing their hats into the ring again this year to take part.

The approach Insurance Business takes in its ranking of brokerages – using a range of criteria and adopting a ‘handicap’ method of scoring – ensures that even smaller players find themselves on a level playing field against larger businesses, allowing our team to determine which are truly the best in the nation.

On behalf of our team, I’d like to offer sincere congratulations to all of our entrants on their ongoing hard work, which has seen some impressive achievements chalked up in a fiercely competitive market. I said it last year and I’ll say it again in 2016: your work continues to attest to precisely how much there is to be proud of within the general insurance industry in Australia. I wish you the very best for the year to come.

Tim Garratt, editor, Insurance Business

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Statewide Profile and Article

Danny Mountford, Co-Managing Director of Statewide Insurance Brokers, says the business is “very honoured and humbled” to have made the 2016 Top 10 Brokerages list, and sends out a big thank you to its “great staff” who’ve made it possible, as well as its loyal clients, some of whom he says have been with Statewide since 1970!

We asked Mountford to tell us what’s been happening at the brokerage in recent times. “A big focus this year was to reinforce our client servicing model,” he says. “More personalised service, continual client contact and visits, proactive insurance advice, and ongoing love and devotion to our clients!

“Paired with continual investment and growth of our online activities, we feel we have all bases covered in relation to client servicing.”

So, what sets Statewide apart from many of its competitors? Mountford says the business believes it’s the company mantra – that of reputation, experience and trust.

“Statewide is one of Australia’s longest-serving privately-owned insurance brokerages, and we take great pride in such longevity and experience. Our clients appreciate the stability, trust and expertise we provide, and we find new insurance buyers are continually seeking such attributes as well.”

The flat economy is the greatest hurdle Statewide has faced over the last 12 months.

“It’s a difficult environment to thrive in at the moment, and WA business is feeling the pinch in many instances. We have managed to expand our client base and continue to grow over this period, despite the challenges presented.”

That expansion and growth is something the brokerage is quite proud of, Mountford says.

“We have managed to achieve increased KPI levels regarding client growth, retention, revenue and such, while implementing some new projects along the way. We’ve also been a part of some wonderful client success stories throughout the year, which we love being able to contribute to, risk-manage and share the excitement with.”

Statewide is working on new initiatives to benefit clients and contribute to growth.

“The main focus includes continuing to grow our AR network; further expansion and wholesaling of some niche industry schemes; and increasing our online activities. We are also involved in some insurance software projects, web publishing, and premium funding … ensuring we have all bases covered in regard to insurance broking and advice.”

STATEWIDE INSURANCE BROKERS ON PREPARING FOR THE WORLD OF TOMORROW

“Embrace technology – for the benefit of your clients and your brokerage. We are strong believers in multichannel client servicing, and will continue to offer and adapt to new systems that make our servicing model better. The insurance industry is often a leader in new technology areas, and brokers would do well to implement and utilise all available systems and technologies.”