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Running an enterprise of any kind involves an element of risk.

Risk_Management_represented_by_car_console_dialTypical risks include:
  • Health and safety.
  • Environmental risks associated with business operations or external weather or economic conditions.
  • Financial risks.
  • Regulatory risks.
  • Security including buildings and cyber risk.
  • Fire, flood and other business interruption risks.
Your insurance policy can cover these risks.

The key is to identify the risks associated with your business, assess the likelihood of the risk occurring and estimate how much the incident will cost your business. Then decide if the risk can be limited and how much of the risk you need to cover for your business to survive an incident.

Risk management
Establishing a risk management plan and undertaking a review of the risks in all areas of your business will help you to identify and prioritise risks and put in place a process to mitigate them.

This will demonstrate that you have a system in place to minimise the impact of an insured loss and will provide your insurers with valuable information they can use when calculating your premium. It may also help to speed up your claim after an incident, for example: One of your employees is making a claim following an accident. You suspect that you were not negligent and the claim is fraudulent.

When investigating your claim, insurers will have to decide:
  • Whether the claim meets the policy terms and conditions.
  • Can a robust defence be provided by way of documentary evidence or systems?
  • Is it worth defending? Defence costs can sometimes outweigh damages awarded.
An effective risk management plan and proper procedures can often prevent an accident or fraudulent claim. This is always preferable and more cost effective than defending the claim.

Risk management support
Insurance brokers are in an ideal position to offer support and advice on best practice and claim statistics to help you to formulate a risk management plan, for example:

Key causes of accidents/claims (Insurance company data)
  • Slips and trips 27%.
  • Manual handling 20%.
  • Struck by/contact with object 17%.
By working with your insurance broker, you can discover how to mitigate some of your business risks to ensure you are minimising incidents and maintaining adequate insurance cover if you need to make a claim.

Call CLA (Risk Solutions) Ltd on 0121 321 4600 to discuss your risk management requirements.
Many business owners are not aware of business interruption (BI) insurance or understand the benefits it provides. It is therefore easily missed when insuring your business against risks. If you use an insurance broker, they will usually assess whether this additional cover is needed for your business and offer it as an addition to your buildings and contents policy. However, if you use one of the online comparison websites, it would be natural to think your buildings and contents insurance would cover most eventualities.

Business interruption insurance is not necessary for all businesses but is crucial for some; for example, if you have equipment and machinery that is difficult to replace or carry a lot of stock that will take time to re-manufacture, this type of insurance cover could mean the difference between business survival and failure.

How does business interruption insurance work?
Cover is available as an add on to your buildings and contents insurance. If an insured risk affects the running of your business, or causes extensive damage to the buildings, machinery, equipment or stock, resulting in your business having to shut down for a period, the insurance will cover the financial losses, for example:
  • Loss of revenue due to closure.
  • Increased costs of working such as temporary relocation or equipment hire.
  • Additional employee costs for overtime or hiring temporary employees.
  • Temporary storage costs and removal fees.
  • Safety and security at temporary accommodation.
  • Loss of income from rent.
  • Long term effect of loss of sales and customers.
If your business is not in a position to recover quickly from a major incident, then business interruption insurance fills the gap.

For example:
Business_Interuption_InsuranceA fire engulfs a large section of your premises and damages equipment and stock. Your buildings and contents insurance will cover the repairs and replacement of equipment and stock, but this may take months to complete.

Flooding or water damage repairs can take months to make the building habitable again and unless you can easily relocate and hire machinery and equipment, your business could fail during the time it takes to start trading again.

Each business must assess their own level of risk and whether a major incident would be manageable without the financial support that business interruption insurance provides.

This is where an insurance broker can help. Talk to CLA (Risk Solutions), your local insurance broker in Sutton Coldfield to get a quote for how much it would cost to add business interruption to your buildings and contents insurance. Call 0121 321 4600

UK citizens are being bombarded with nuisance calls by unscrupulous companies chasing no win no fee claims for injury from motoring accidents, holiday illnesses or injury at work.

Their arguments are sometimes so convincing that usually law-abiding citizens are tempted into making an insurance claim for an injury or illness that was less serious or never sustained. Let’s not fool ourselves; to make such a claim is fraud and the courts are starting to clamp down on this behaviour.

Insurance_fraudA recent case involved a couple who claimed to have sustained serious injuries when their Volkswagen Bora collided with a bus run by transport company Abellio.

Following subsequent CCTV footage of the crash, it was found that the bus was not travelling at more than 5mph and a medical expert argued that the crash could not have caused the injuries they were claiming for.

The bus company took the couple to the high court for lying about their injuries and the result was a fine of £6,000 court costs and prison sentences for the couple.

The government is also concerned about the increase in claims, particularly the soft tissue injury (whiplash) claims. Under the new laws introduced in 2017, measures have been implemented that will reduce the number of claims and limit financial compensation. This will help reduce the insurance premiums for all motorists.

Insurance fraud
Fraudulent claims for insured loss fall into many categories; these are some of the most common:

1.Motor insurance fraud
Deliberate harsh breaking to induce an accident, often carried out by organised criminals to obtain vehicle damage and personal injury compensation. Sometimes multiple non-existent passengers are claimed to have been injured.

2.Application fraud
Not providing all the facts about claims history or penalty points when filling in an insurance form to obtain a reduction in premium.

3.Commercial liability fraud
Every business in the UK must have Employee Liability Insurance unless they are a sole trader. Fraud can be committed by the insured company and third parties. Claiming for a fictitious injury or exaggerating an injury or loss are the most common.

Reducing insurance fraud
The insurance industry invests £200 million each year to identify fraud*.

Insurance fraud is a serious crime which can have a major impact on perpetrators such as difficulty obtaining future insurance, increased premiums, damage to employment prospects and possible criminal conviction.

Insurers are committed to combating insurance fraud to keep insurance premiums down for honest policyholders.

If you are not sure what to fill in on your insurance form or what you can legitimately claim for after an incident, talk to your insurance broker who will always be able to provide you with the right advice.

*source https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/fraud/
Business insurance provides cover for specified risks. The insured receives compensation for a specified loss such as theft or damage, in return for the payment of a premium.

Your insurer will calculate your premium based on the risk of an insured event happening to your business.

If you can show that you have minimised the risks and put in place procedures to reduce the possibility of a claim, there is a good chance you can lower your insurance premiums.

Health and Safety Assist
Health_and_Safety_to_businessWith insurance premiums rising due to an increase in claims over the last 10 years, anything you can do to demonstrate that you have minimised some of the risks to your business may help you to save money on your premium.

In the same way, insurers can offer lower premiums to fleet owners who install CCTV cameras in their
vehicles, proper management of your workplace risks and compliance with health and safety legislation can provide the same benefits.

How does it work?
These days there is increased pressure on businesses to meet a variety of health and safety requirements and accreditations such as CHAS, Safe Contractor or ISO. Together with the growing claims culture in the UK, it is more important than ever to manage your health and safety risks.

Health and Safety Assist is an online portal giving you access to your own safety management hub and support from an experienced team when you need it.

The service includes:
  • Reminders of anything/everything that needs to be done saving you time and money.
  • Tasks and “to do” lists managed centrally and allocated individually.
  • Your questions always answered at a time to suit you.
  • The system will keep all information (conversations, activities, documents, tasks, events) in a structured format in one secure place that is always available.
  • All your documents and administration in one place with easy (multiple) access.
  • Extended Risk Management benefits across your business.
  • A boost to business insurers and a real positive for underwriters.
The portal provides:
  • Document storage.
  • Action plans.
  • Sector related documents.
  • Accident incident and claim management support.
  • Personal calendar.
  • Task management and discussions.
  • Live chat “Ask the Expert”.
  • Audit trail.
  • Secure access.

Protect your business from the claims culture
If you have had to deal with claims from employees, face a claim investigation or a reduced claim pay-out from your insurer, you will benefit from the Health and Safety Assis consultancy and portal.

Their experienced team of risk managers and health and safety consultants will help you set up management systems to minimise the risk of a claim and, if a claim is made, will be there to support you.

Other benefits
Some of your customers may require you to gain health and safety accreditations before they consider you as a supplier. Typically, blue-chip corporates and government departments will expect you to have accreditations and a risk management policy in place.

Health and Safety Assist can support you with:

  • Risk management.
  • Insurance Risk Underwriting and Surveys.
  • Insurance Claims and Accidents.
  • Incident Investigation and Reporting.
  • Protection against the Insurance Claims Culture.
  • Site Risk Profiling and Reporting.
  • Contract and Tender Submissions.
  • Support with Authorities.
With a robust health and safety system in place, through our partners, CLA will be able to source the most suitable liability insurance policy for your needs. Insurers will be able to offer reduced premiums because you will be able to demonstrate that you are managing your risks and helping to reduce your exposure to claims.

To find out more about how working with Health and Safety Assist can reduce your insurance premium and help you to win more business, please contact one of our team.
Employers_Liability_InsuranceEmployers’ Liability insurance is compulsory for any business that employs staff. Following the recent changes to personal injury law that came into effect on 27 February 2017, you may want to consider whether you currently have the right level of cover.

While the statutory minimum is £5m and today’s policies tend to start at £10m, many customers will need a higher limit to adequately meet their needs.

You will find our 6 steps (below) for choosing Employers’ Liability a useful guide.

Rate change highlights need for review
Work-related injuries regularly involve issues of long-term care and loss of earnings. In such circumstances, lump sum settlements can be awarded with the intention of compensating claimants over a long period of time.

As these sums can be invested, a ‘discount rate’ is applied to offset prospective investment returns and ensure claimants are not under- or over-compensated.

Since 2001, this rate has been set at +2.5%, meaning settlements were reduced in expectation of positive investment returns being made.

However, on 27 February 2017, the Lord Chancellor dramatically reduced the rate to -0.75%, meaning settlements will now be increased to reflect expected negative returns.

£10m on a single claim is now plausible
The reduction in the discount rate has immediate implications for the potential size of future personal injury settlements.

The following 6 points should be considered when determining a suitable level of cover:

1. Multiple Claimants
The EL indemnity limit applies to each claim individually. However, work related injury claims can often involve multiple employees.

A claim, or series of claims arising out of a single cause, are considered to be one loss; therefore, thinking should always be framed in terms of whether a limit is sufficient to sustain multiple claimants arising from the same incident.

2. Concentration of staff
Employees are often concentrated in one area, for example in an office or on a building site. In these circumstances, one incident has the potential to harm multiple people.

The more staff concentrated in one place, the higher the limits of indemnity customers should be considering.

Individual claims are now reaching £10m. If multiple staff are potentially at risk you need to be questioning whether your cover is sufficient.

3. Nature of activities
The largest EL claims tend to involve injury as opposed to death, with claimants suffering long-term loss of earnings and the need for continuous care.

You should therefore consider whether customers are engaged in any activities with a higher risk of injury, such as working at height.

4. Hazardous locations
Certain locations are more susceptible to incidents and more likely to involve multiple people.

Common examples include offshore locations, railways and airports.

5. Inner limits
Most EL policies include some common limitations. For example, incidents arising from terrorism or offshore will typically be limited to the statutory minimum of £5m.

While these don’t impact the majority of customers, inner policy limits need to be considered depending on your company’s activities.

6. Future circumstances
EL claims can arise years after the alleged incident – in the case of work-related diseases, this can even be decades later.

Between buying a policy and a claim being settled, a lot can change to affect final settlement values.

The recent change in the personal injury discount rate is a perfect example of this. You’ll want to factor-in some contingency for prospective claims inflation.

Options for increasing limits
You should talk to your broker or insurer if you think higher limits are required.

Sometimes a more economical option is to source an excess of loss policy, which delivers the required capacity above your primary limit. Your advisor will be able to recommend the best option for your company.

How we can help
CLA’s insurance providers can also help customers prevent incidents occurring and significantly reduce the size of claims that do occur.

To find out more or discuss options for increasing limits of indemnity, please speak with one of our team.
The supreme court has ruled that the Employment Tribunal fees paid by employees, if they want to take their employer to court, are illegal.

Employee-Tribunal-FeesHow will this affect your business?
Since the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in 2013 there has been a 79% decrease in cases being brought. ACAS conciliation service think there will be a large increase the number of cases brought in future. Their records show that 2/3rds of the employees they advised did not proceed with their claim because they would have to pay tribunal fees.

Now these fees have been dropped, you may need to consider how to improve the management of employee relationships in future, to avoid a tribunal claim.

What can you do to protect your business from a claim?
Along with reviewing your HR procedures, you should also check insurance policies to see what sort of cover you have in case one of your employees brings an Employment Tribunal claim.

On your commercial insurance policy, you need to check that you have a Legal Expenses extension. This will cover you for all types of claims including unfair dismissal, discrimination and TUPE claims.
The Legal Expenses insurance will cover your defence costs and any settlements or awards made by the court.

Alternatively, if you have Directors and Officers insurance, this will cover defence costs if you are involved in court cases with employees as well as shareholders, regulators and other organisations.

Employment tribunals can be complicated and therefore time consuming and costly. Making sure you have adequate cover to defend your case will help to mitigate the risk of a costly court case to your business.

Employees in future will have nothing to lose by making a claim against their employer even if they only have a slim chance of winning.

To discuss the best options to protect your business, please call us on 0121 321 4600.
According to the Zurich SME Risk Index, SME decision makers over the age of 55 are by far the most relaxed age group when it comes to the perception of overall risk in the economy.

SME-LeadersAt a glance
  • Just 39% of SME decision makers over the age of 55 see more economic risk now than 12 months ago
  • Although their younger counterparts are more concerned about the economy, they are also experiencing the most growth
  • The survey of over 1,000 SME decision makers showed differing opinions between different age groups
Less than two-fifths (39%) of this age group perceive more economic risk now than 12 months ago. This compares with more than half (54%) of SME decision makers under the age of 45 who perceive more risk now than before the Brexit referendum.

Greatest disparity of economic concern related to age
The survey of over 1,000 SME decision makers showed that the difference in opinion between different age groups was most pronounced when they were asked to assess their exposure to three particular risks: workforce challenges, market dynamics and supply chain issues.

Nearly twice as many SME decision makers under the age of 45 reported challenges to their workforce as their area of greatest concern (50%), compared with just over a quarter (26%) of over 55s. Market dynamics were a primary concern for just over a third (35%) of decision makers over the age of 55, compared with more than two fifths (42%) of those under 45.

Almost a third (32%) of SME decision makers under the age of 45 are most concerned about supply chain issues, compared to less than a fifth of over 55s (19%).

Younger business leaders see the greatest opportunity for growth
It is not all bad news for younger SME decision makers. According to the results, those under the age of 35 are busy seeking out a competitive advantage in the face of economic uncertainty.

Although they were more sceptical about the economy, they were almost twice as likely as the over 55s to see opportunities in emerging technologies.

Under 35s were also the group that saw by far the greatest opportunity in innovative areas of business. The survey shows they are almost a third more likely than over 55s to embrace new practices such as teleworking, or to incorporate mobile technology into their work habits.

This capacity to adopt new technology and working practices may explain why this group experienced by far the greatest business growth. Business leaders under the age of 35 were more than twice as likely as the over 35s to have registered significant growth in the last 12 months.
At a glance
  • Fires involving hot works often spread rapidly and cause significant property damage.
  • Our provider’s claims experience shows many hot works fires could have caused much less damage – or been avoided altogether – if the hot work permit system had been adhered to.
  • We discuss three major fires involving hot works, and identify lessons organisations can learn from them.
Hot-works-risksFires involving hot works may be rare, but when they occur, the damage to property is often substantial. Sparks can quickly spread to neighbouring buildings and cause fires that are hard to bring under control.

Investigations into the causes of hot work fires often find they could have been avoided if proper safety procedures had been observed.

Examples of three recent incidents:

Case study 1
This fire occurred during the school summer holidays. Plastic tarpaulin caught light as a gas torch was being used, and the fire spread rapidly, destroying much of the school. Subsequent investigations identified a number of failings that meant the risk of a fire occurring had not been adequately addressed.

The biggest issue in this incident was that there was no hot work permit in place to ensure the works were being managed safely.

In addition to that, materials were being stored on the roof where the works were taking place and there was no fire extinguisher on site.

The absence of a fire extinguisher may have put the contractor in breach of their Hot Works Warranty, as their insurer refused to indemnify them following the loss.

Case study 2
Hot work permits specify that for torch-applied roofing, a fire watch must remain in place for at least an hour after work has finished for the day, to ensure all sparks and embers in the site area have been extinguished.

In this incident, the contractor left the site before the one-hour fire watch period had elapsed, and it was during this time that a fire took hold. Had the contractor stayed on site, the damage could have been minimised considerably.

Although there was a hot work permit in place on this occasion, it was the contractor’s permit, and nobody from the school had oversight of it.

It may also have been possible for cold works to have been used instead, but no explanation was given as to why this option was not chosen.

Case study 3
This fire occurred at a particularly sensitive time – as students were returning to school to collect their GCSE results.

Combustible materials caught light as maintenance work was taking place on the roof of a two-storey building that housed a library and IT facilities. Although the fire was spotted quickly, it spread so rapidly that the whole of the building was destroyed.

Although there was a hot work permit in place, managed by the contractor, it didn’t achieve a great deal and appeared to be more of a box-ticking exercise.

One of the problems identified was that it was a generic permit for a larger programme of works taking place at the school; the permit wasn’t specifically created to manage the risks associated with hot works.

In addition, there was no proper oversight of the permit. It was kept in the contractor’s cabin and the only person who saw it was the individual who had issued it.

Learning lessons from hot works fires
Losses from fires involving hot works can sometimes run into millions of pounds. Indeed, in one recent claim, the loss was estimated at nearly £20m. Careful management of the associated risks is therefore essential.

One of our provider’s loss adjusters, has conducted a review into the causes of hot works fires, which found evidence of:
  • Inadequate or cursory work area inspections.
  • A failure to properly brief those carrying out hot work on the nature of the works.
  • Poor project oversight, including the way that subcontractors are managed.
Following its review, our provider’s recommended that individuals responsible for authorising hot works ensure that:
  • Less hazardous work methods have been considered.
  • Project specific work and method statements have been compiled.
  • Worker qualifications have been checked.
  • A work area risk assessment has been conducted.
  • Those carrying out the work have signed an authorisation to work as per the agreed method.
  • Periodic inspections are carried out.
  • A final check on the works area is made at the end of each working day.
For more information on managing hot works and other fire risks, please contact us.
Business-threats-2017Allianz has produced their Risk Barometer for 2017 which identifies top three corporate perils for UK businesses.

The figures are based on the responses of more than 1,200 risk experts from 50+ countries.

At the top of the list in the UK is cyber incidents with 48%. The toughening of data protection regulation put this at the forefront of risk experts’ minds, as penalties for non-compliance will be more severe.

Second was business interruption (BI). Physical perils such as fire and explosion are top causes of BI that businesses fear most, but non-physical or non-damage causes are becoming a much bigger issue; for example, supplier failure or cyber incidents.

Macroeconomic developments moved up from sixth position last year to third.

Cyber insurance
It is no longer a case of, if your business suffers a cyber-attack, but when. Cyber-crime has moved to the top of Allianz’s barometer with hardly a week passing without the media reporting a high-profile case of hacking or ransomware attack. And this does not include smaller businesses where breaches go unreported.

Cyber insurance can provide the cover that could be the difference between the survival or bankruptcy of your business.

Business interruption insurance
Disruptions can be caused by a wide variety of risks; fire, flood or a leaking pipe. Your commercial insurance policy will cover the material losses, but if your business is forced to close following an incident, this is when business interruption insurance is invaluable.

The policy will cover loss of income following an insured incident.

It is not surprising this has moved up the Risk Barometer in 2017, with more uncertainty, driven by growing concerns over political, legal and regulatory developments globally.

Allianz possess strong underwriting and risk management capability which means they can offer cover and access to business specific risk guidance ensuring that businesses are properly protected.

To protect your business from business risks in 2017, talk to one of our account executives at CLA to find out more.
Penalty-for-driving-with-mobile-phoneFrom 1 March 2017, drivers caught using their mobile phone whilst driving will receive a fine of £200 and 6 penalty points on their license.

Previously the penalty was £100 and 3 penalty points with the option of taking a remedial course instead of points on their license. The remedial course will no longer be an option.

This will mean that newly qualified drivers will have their driving licences revoked if they receive the 6 points within 2 years of passing their driving test. Drivers of goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles with more than 9 seats could face a fine of £2,500.

Hands-free devices such as Bluetooth earpieces or hands free kits are still legal.

Definition of hands-free
So long as you only have to press a button to receive or end a call you are allowed to use a hands-free device. Multiple presses are illegal.

Therefore, you can use your mobile phone whilst driving, if it is connected to a Bluetooth earpiece or hands-free kit, providing your mobile phone is cradled on the dashboard or windscreen.

However, if you are involved in an accident whilst on the phone, you could still be prosecuted if the police think you were not in proper control of the vehicle or driving without due care and attention.

Research shows that using a hands-free device whilst driving is just as dangerous as using a hand held phone because it is still a significant distraction from driving. Drivers using a mobile phone whilst driving are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and other people*.

As an employer, you have a duty under health and safety laws to manage the risks faced by your employees on the road and you should provide them with clear guidelines on the use of mobile phones whilst driving.

You may want to get some professional advice on assessing the risks to your employees and drawing up guidelines that will keep you safe from prosecution. Visit our website home page to find out more from our “Health and Safety Assist” partners.

You may have heard about these changes in the news recently, following an announcement from The Ministry of Justice.

Ogden-Discount-TablesThe Ogden tables are used by courts to make it easier to calculate future losses in personal injury and fatal accident cases.

The tables provide a set of discount rates that make sure a severely injured person has the necessary financial security to provide for their care and loss of earnings. The discount rate is used to calculate the amount of compensation they receive to reflect the return they will earn when that money is invested.

It was announced recently, by the Lord Chancellor, that the Ogden discount rate will be reduced from 2.5% to -0.75% from 20 March 2017.

The change has been made to reflect the fall in indexed-linked gilts which are used in the calculation. However, the insurance industry believes that the system used to calculate the discount rate is flawed and does not take into account the current investment environment and the financial choices available for claimants.

The outcome of this reduction will mean that those suffering from serious injuries will receive significantly higher compensation payments than before.

The increase will affect claims costs for all types of for bodily injury in the following sectors:
  • Private and Commercial Motor
  • Motor Trade
  • Casualty (Employers Liability, Other Liability and Contractors Liability)
  • SMEs
Reducing this rate will cost the insurance industry millions of pounds and the news has already caused share prices fall. As a result, it is expected that customers will see an increase in their premiums in the future.
For most companies, purchasing insurance against loss due to accidents, fire and theft is accepted as a cost of doing business. However, these same companies often don’t consider the need for protection against what has become another significant threat to businesses – bad debt.

Bad-debt-protectionNon-payment of invoices can be a significant risk for businesses that trade on credit terms; however you can protect your business against this risk by purchasing bad debt protection. Bad debt insurance or trade credit insurance policies are tailored to your individual circumstances. The amount of credit available to your customers is based on their financial performance. Your customers are given a credit limit that you can trade up to and claim on if they are unable or unwilling to pay. The credit limit is monitored and adjusted, as and when necessary, during the lifetime of the policy.

Managing the risk
Our insurance providers offer a range of solutions that will meet the needs of small companies, medium and large businesses and multinationals. Continual monitoring and availability of information about your customers and potential customers will help your business to:
  • Grow sales into new markets and customers
  • Obtain information about the marketplace and potential clients
  • Minimise the risk of non-payment of debts
  • Access finance from lenders by providing added security
  • Improve customer relationships
Insurance against bad debt will give you the confidence to enter new markets or trading agreements that will improve the profitability of your business.

Debt collection support
Should the worst happen and you are left with a bad debt, it is important that debt collection is handled with care. Our providers have vast experience in handling debt collection with the aim of keeping both parties on good trading terms for the future.

To discuss the full range of services available and the insurance cover you need to support your business growth, please call one of our Account Managers.
New-Year-ResolutionA New Year and a fresh start, but put aside your personal New Year resolutions and consider setting some for your business. Research from AXA found that 26% of small British businesses set targets and resolutions for their company at this time of year. Not a high percentage considering how important future planning is to a business.

Often business owners find themselves working in the business rather than on it, being dragged into the day-to-day challenges that present themselves and often losing sight of the bigger picture. The start of a new year brings an ideal opportunity to assess the direction of your business and your achievements against your current Business Plan.

New Year Resolution suggestions:

1. Make a Plan
In order to keep your business on course, a robust Business Plan needs to be developed. Start off with a clear direction and ensure that you refer to the plan at regular intervals, adapting it as and when required. Don’t forget to share it with everyone in the business so that you are all working towards a common goal.

2. Make a stand
Gaining competitive advantage is getting more difficult so having a clear Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is crucial. Take time to clearly define what makes your company and offering different from that of your competitors.   Then communicate your message via multiple channels to maximise coverage.

3. Make Communication Count
Communication is a two way process. Devise a feedback process this year, if you haven’t already got one, to gain feedback from your customers. No one likes to receive negative comments, but it is better for you to be told, than your potential customers. It will provide you with an opportunity to work on your weaknesses and boast about your strengths.

4. Make Time
Take the time to engage with what is going on around you. Listen out for new opportunities, make new contacts, read business books, talk to your staff and be open to new ideas.

5. Secure your business
Finally, check your insurance policies to ensure they are still up to date and insurance values are adequate. As your business grows you will need to review your insurance cover to ensure you are not underinsured if you have to make a claim.

For a FREE review of your insurance cover with no obligation to purchase, call one of our Account Managers.
The reason for Engineering Inspections is quite simple; it is your duty to periodically inspect your equipment, failing to do so leaves you vulnerable to regulatory action or even criminal prosecution if something goes wrong. You may be thinking that the Health & Safety laws already contain a number of provisions relating to inspections of work equipment, however many business owners are unaware of the extent of their responsibilities.

The team at CLA Risk Solutions have put together four key reasons of how you can benefit from engineering inspections;

1) Complying with the law

There are a number of Health and Safety laws that exist to ensure that equipment does not cause harm to your employees or the general public. These laws cover all types of equipment from the less obvious such as an electrical socket to a passenger lift. Regardless of the size of the business you can be certain that it will be affected in some way and will most likely require an engineering inspection contract.

If you are thinking of taking your chances remember that the consequences of failing to comply with the laws can attract large fines and in more severe cases may result in a prison sentence.

2) Avoiding costly Fees for Intervention

Since 2012, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been permitted to charge Fees for Intervention (FFI) for any time spent, or action taken by the HSE, from the moment it identifies a material breach in health and safety legislation, to the conclusion of any investigation. With an hourly fee of £124 per hour, this can soon become a costly exercise.

The Health and Safety law requires business owners to have reasonably practicable inspection and maintenance regimes in place, without such regimes the HSE could identify a breach and begin charging FFI.

One area that businesses often overlook is the air conditioning system. Infrequent inspections can, in extreme cases, lead to serious corrosion and a potential explosion. So maybe it’s time to book in that preventive Engineering Inspection.

3) Engineering_InspectionsDefending a claim/prosecution

Regardless of the preventative measures that are put into place, accidents still unfortunately occur. However, should someone be injured or lose their life, it is inevitable that this will result in a personal injury claim and/or criminal prosecution against the company or even the directors personally.

In 2008 the Corporate Manslaughter law came into force which now means that it is more important than ever for businesses to ensure that their health and safety risks are properly managed. If you have fulfilled your duty of care and implemented the correct inspections and safety procedures, it can greatly increase your chances of defending a claim or a criminal prosecution.

4) Avoiding equipment failure

By regularly checking your equipment it can prevent it failing, which often leads to unplanned downtime whilst it is being repaired or replaced. Regular inspections can identify potential issues providing the company with the opportunity to conduct planned maintenance at a convenient time.

Additionally by identifying potential defects early, it can help machinery to run more efficiently, last longer and use less energy. As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”.

At CLA Risk Solutions we are on hand to offer advice to ensure that you obtain the relevant cover providing you with complete piece of mind. If you need help with organising your Engineering Inspection we would be happy to help you and to provide you with a FREE review of your insurance cover with no obligation to purchase, simply get in touch.

At a glance
  • Severe flood events in the UK are on the rise, but planning ahead can dramatically reduce the impact of flooding
  • With its wealth of experience, CLA can recommend actions to mitigate flood risk
  • Flood damage now costs UK insurers £1.1 billion each year, and around one in six properties in England are at risk from flooding
Flooded_buildingsAs we head towards winter, the severe floods of 2013/14 may just be a distant memory – but their legacy remains.

The storms that began in October 2013 caused substantial damage to homes and businesses across the UK, along with widespread power cuts and major transport disruption.

It was the sheer ferocity of the battering that the British Isles took, in what was the wettest winter on record, that has remained in the collective consciousness, and influenced the way we think about the weather. Today, a growing number of the British public believe that climate change is to blame for these flood events.

And they could be right. Scientists from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict that the UK will receive 10% more rainfall on average per year by 2100. They also predict an increase in extreme weather events, not always confined to winter months, such as the remnants of hurricane Bertha, which brought unseasonably wet and windy weather to the UK for several days last August.

Defence vs. damages
That is why flood risk remains an important issue for brokers and their customers. Around 5.2 million properties are currently at risk from flooding in England alone and annual flood damage costs are in the region of £1.1 billion. Last year, the government committed £2.3 billion over six years to improve the UK’s flood defences, with the measures intended to provide better protection against severe weather events for around 300,000 homes.
Another result of the need to manage the effects of flooding, has been the development of Flood Re – a not-for-profit scheme initially developed by the Association of British Insurers and the government to ensure flood insurance remains widely available and affordable for eligible residential properties, while providing a sustainable transition to risk reflective pricing over 25 years.

What this means for householders in high risk properties is that insurers will be able to pass the flood risk element of a home insurance policy to a fund that will pay any subsequent flood claims. This allows such customers to have both affordable flood insurance and access to a wider range of providers than would otherwise be the case.

Flooding year-round risk
However, it’s not just during the winter that customers need to be prepared. During the summer floods of 2007, the Environment Agency recorded that 48,461 homes and 6,896 businesses were flooded.
That’s why brokers like CLA need to ensure their customers are adequately prepared for flooding no matter what the time of the year.

Preparing for a flood
Firstly, it is important to assess the general risk of flooding for a property by using the Environment Agency’s flood maps, including new maps for surface water flooding.

Other more specific indicators can include asking simple questions about the property. Is it near a river, sea or stream? Is it situated in a hollow, or at the bottom of a hill where floodwater could collect? Have drains at the property, or those of a neighbour, overflowed recently?

From this, it is possible to ascertain what flood protection measures are needed. Flood resistance is about keeping water out of a property; while resilience focuses on limiting the damage once the water is in.

According to the Association of British Insurers, premiums can be reduced if at-risk properties install flood resistance products, such as flood guards, and adopt flood resilience by using materials like water resistant plaster.

CLA Insurers’ risk management engineers can offer customers salient advice to minimise flood damage, including its new Flood Guide– an interactive guide that provides useful, straightforward advice for businesses to prepare for, act during, and recover from, a flood event.

But for complete peace of mind, CLA recommends its customers consult specialist flood surveyors to instruct on the most appropriate preventative measures for each individual property.

There is also Floodline Warnings Direct, a free government service that sends a message when flooding is expected – giving home or business owners extra time to prepare for the worst.

In the event of a flood
Being prepared for a flood emergency will reduce the risks to occupants in a property, as well as limit the damage to a property and its contents.

But if a property is flooded, then it is essential to inform your insurance company of the flooding right away, as they will need to send out a loss adjuster or other specialists to assess the damage.

Practical clean-up steps must also be adhered to – such as having power and gas supplies checked by a professional, the removal of water and mud, cleaning and disinfecting, and an adequate drying-out period (which can last up to 12 months) – before reoccupying a property.

It is important to note, however, that an insurer will want to project-manage much of the clean-up, so the insured must inform an insurer before acting on anything.

Working with your insurer
Claiming with an insurer should be an effortless process, and CLA Insurers are always on hand to help their customers quickly get back on their feet following a flood event.

The Environment Agency produces a guide for businesses on how to deal with flooding.
 Key recommendations include:
  • Sign up for flood alerts
  • Prepare a flood plan (details within guide)
  • Look at your existing business policies and consider whether they are appropriate in the event of a flood
  • Make a list of employee contact numbers in case of evacuation and consider any staff who may need special assistance
  • Make sure any hazardous materials are kept safe and do not contaminate flood water
  • Check flood products and warning products regularly
  • Know the location of cut off points for gas, electricity and water
  • Note key stock or equipment that may need special protection from flood water.
  • Consider what you may need during or after a flood (for example, sandbags, plastic sheeting, loudspeaker)
  • See if key operations, such as shipping or customer services, can be moved to a safer building

ISS_8967_01846A Corby recycling firm have been fined and its director given a suspended jail sentence for endangering workers after allowing them to operate fork lift trucks without proper training and then ignoring a notice requiring urgent action to address the safety failing.

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that despite an Improvement Notice being served by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) against BB Recycling on 29 November 2011, the necessary training was continually overlooked even after a deadline to comply was extended until 28 February 2012.

The company and director Russell Wayne Armer were also found to have no employer’s liability insurance, which is compulsory for all employers.

BB Recycling, of Pilot Road, Corby, was fined a total of £300 and ordered to pay £340 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998,  the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.

Director Russell Wayne Armer, of, Furlong Street , Desborough, Northamptonshire, also pleaded guilty to the same three breaches.  He was given a fourth month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80. The court have also applied to disqualify Mr Armer from acting as a company director, managing or in any way controlling a company for at least five years.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Roger Amery said:

“Employees were placed in unnecessary danger, but thankfully the situation was resolved before any one was injured.

“The requirement to train fork lift operators is long established across all industries so there is no excuse for this company and its director to blatantly ignore what was required as well as a notice that explicitly called for remedial action.

“Possessing valid employers’ liability insurance, meanwhile, is mandatory for all businesses. So I doubt that many employers will have much sympathy for a firm that was operating without this.”

Information about working safely with forklift trucks, including the need for training, can be found on the HSE web site at www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport

Call us for more information about employers’ liability insurance.

‘Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0’.
02I87269Businesses now have more flexibility in how they manage their provision of first aid in the workplace following a change in health and safety regulations.

From 1 October 2013, the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 have been amended, removing the requirement for HSE to approve first aid training and qualifications.

The change is part of HSE’s work to reduce the burden on businesses and put common sense back into health and safety, whilst maintaining standards. The changes relating to first aid apply to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors.

Andy McGrory, HSE’s policy lead for First Aid, said: "HSE no longer approves first-aid training and qualifications. Removing the HSE approval process will give businesses greater flexibility to choose their own training providers and first aid training that is right for their work place, based on their needs assessment and their individual business needs.

"Employers still have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work."

Information, including the regulations document and a guidance document to help employers identify and select a competent training provider to deliver any first-aid training indicated by their first-aid needs assessment are available on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid 

‘Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0’.
29th November 2012

Can you make staff pay for PPE?

A recent survey carried out by the TUC (Trades Union Congress) identified that more than one in five workers are paying for PPE out of their own pocket.  More than 20% of workers have to pay for providing or replacing all or some of the equipment that they need for work.  A further 9% were made to pay for any replacement equipment if the original PPE was damaged.

What is PPE?
It is defined as ‘all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health and safety’ e.g. safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.

Can you charge for PPE?
No.  An employer cannot ask for money from an employee for PPE, whether it is returnable or not.  This includes agency workers if they are legally regarded as your employee.

What do the PPE at Work Regulations require?
That personal protective equipment is to be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways.

The regulations also require that PPE:
  • Is properly assessed before use to ensure it is suitable
  • Is maintained and stored properly
  • Is provided with instructions on how to use it safely and
  • Is used correctly by employees

It’s a good practice to keep formal records of the PPE that has been issued and carry out regular checks to ensure it is in good condition.

For information about our risk management insurance please call 0121 321 4600.
21st November 2012

10,000 Ladders and Rising

Since its launch, the Ladder Exchange has been responsible for removing over 10,000 broken, bent or damaged ladders from the workplace with the message ‘Don’t let a dodgy ladder shatter your life’.  Now in its sixth consecutive year, the Ladder Exchange, which begins on 1 September and runs until 30 November 2012, provides all businesses with the opportunity to change broken, bent or damaged ladders for safe, new ones at a discounted price.
The Exchange also contributes to raising awareness and understanding of how to use ladders and stepladders safely.  Under the scheme, suspect ladders can be exchanged, at a discount, at participating partners.
Despite a steady decline, falls from height remain the most common kind of workplace fatality.
In 2010/11, a total of 38 workers died and 4,327 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height in the workplace, with a further 10,232 employees suffering an ‘over 3 day’ injury.  Many of these incidents could have been avoided by people with the right training using the correct equipment that had been properly inspected and maintained.
The Ladder Exchange is a great example of how everyone in the health and safety system can share responsibility and work together towards a common goal; namely, reducing falls from height.
For information about our risk management insurance please call 0121 321 4600.
Camberwell_blaze070sHalloween and bonfire night are some of the busiest nights of the year for the police and fire brigade.  Anti-social behaviour linked to fireworks is a major problem for many communities in the UK.

Anti-social use of fireworks and the resulting damage to commercial and industrial property, together with the potential for accidental damage caused by burning debris, can have a major impact on businesses unfortunate enough to be targeted by this type of activity.

However, there are a number of precautions that can be taken to reduce the risks, for example:
  • Secure all areas of the premises and make sure any doors, windows and skylights are secured.
  • Clear all yards of rubbish and materials that could catch light and keep waste bins covered.
  • Store any combustible materials in protective containers or locate them a suitable distance away from buildings.
  • Cut back any vegetation close to buildings.
  • If there is a high risk of anti-social behaviour in the area, additional action such as protecting letter boxes and installing automatic fire extinguishers may need to be considered.
These precautions should also be considered all year round, not just for the main firework period of Halloween and bonfire night, as part of a continuous risk limitation process.

Good management, risk awareness and robust health and safety procedures can go a long way towards improving your company’s risk profile and reducing business insurance premium costs.