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Business_Interruption_InsuranceYour commercial insurance policy will cover you for the replacement of buildings and contents if your business suffers a major disaster.

However, following an insured event such as a fire, flood, theft, vandalism or IT outage, business interruption insurance would cover the loss of income during the period of closure while you get up and running again.

A business interruption insurance policy will cover you for a range of costs:
  • Loss of rental income
  • Additional staff costs
  • Temporary relocation
  • Security for buildings
  • Loss of customer loyalty and subsequent reduction in sales
Owners often overlook business interruption insurance because they think they are covered by their buildings and contents insurance.

If you were unable to trade after a major incident and your customers had to look elsewhere while you got your business back on track, could you survive for what might be a period of up to 12 months? Even a few months would be enough to destroy some businesses and some previously loyal customers may never return when you open the doors again.

Business interruption insurance
As well as the cover outlined above, business interruption insurance can include damage to a neighbouring building that may affect the running of your business and result in a period of closure and loss of income.

It can also cover the loss of income if one of your suppliers suffers a major loss that affects the supply of products to your business.

Specific risks policies can also be written. One of the growing risks to business continuity these days is cybercrime.

If you have cyber risk insurance, you can include business interruption insurance along with your cyber insurance to support the business while the breach is identified and repaired.

Assessing your risks
Every business has different requirements and the level of risk and insurance cover required will vary. A manufacturing business with premises, machinery and stock will probably need longer to recover from a major incident than an office that could relocate within a few days. However, cyber risk may be greater for an office-based technology business.

This is where an insurance broker can offer their expert advice to find the most suitable cover for your business.

Call CLA (Risk Solutions) Ltd on 0121 321 4600 to discuss your business insurance.
Insuring commercial property can be complex.
Commercial buildings come in all shapes, sizes and material construction. They generally need specialised heating, lighting and ventilation systems and the flexibility to cater for a variety of businesses or tenants.

Commercial_Property_InsuranceInsurers will assess multiple factors when they are calculating premium costs. A commercial landlord or property owner will need to provide details such as:
  • Location and any risks such as flooding
  • Type of construction and materials
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Security
  • Type of industry using the building
One of the regular mistakes made when insuring commercial property is assessing the full rebuilding cost. When calculating the sum insured for building and contents, it can be easy to undervalue the full rebuilding and replacement costs. This will leave you with a shortfall if you need to claim for a total rebuild if the property is destroyed.

Often, commercial property insurers will work on a pro rata “condition of average clause”; for example, if you are claiming for a partial loss of 100k out of your insured value of buildings and contents of 200K and you are underinsured by 50% (the full rebuild value is 400K), you will only receive an amount minus the percentage you are underinsured (50% of 100K = 50K). This could have serious financial consequences when you come to make a claim.

Property owner’s liability
Commercial property owners will need property owner’s liability insurance to protect against claims from a third party due to an accident resulting in injury or damage to their property.
The amount of cover will be determined by the type of business and the risks involved.

Business interruption and loss of rent
Following the total loss of a commercial building through fire, flood or another event, it may take some time to rebuild or repair the property. During this time, you will be losing rental income and you may have to find alternative premises for your tenant.

The amount of insurance cover will depend on your type of property and how long rebuilding work is expected to take. Calculations will include time taken for clearance, planning permissions, rebuilding and replacement of fixtures and fittings. This will determine the indemnity period (12, 24 or 36 months).

Legal cover
This is usually offered as an add-on to your commercial property policy and covers your legal costs if you are involved in disputes for non-payment of rent, data protection or employment etc.

Insurance broker
An insurance broker will be able to help you assess your individual requirements and provide an accurate valuation to ensure your building is adequately covered.
Home-insuranceComparison sites are a great way of saving you time and money. However, cover varies widely and the cheapest quote may not give you the replacement value needed if something happens to your home or belongings.

No single comparison site covers the whole market, so it is worth checking with a couple of them to get a broader view. After checking three of the sites, you still need to go back and see if your current supplier can beat the best quote.

Comparison sites are prone to making assumptions to speed up the search process, so double check the cover before you buy as it may not be suitable for you. This all adds up to a lot of work for you. You may find it easier to use an insurance broker that can look at the whole market for you and get the best cover for the lowest price.

There are three basic types of home insurance:
Buildings insurance covers the structure of the building and the fixtures and fittings. If you have a mortgage, buildings insurance is mandatory to get your mortgage agreed.

Take care not to ‘over cover’ your buildings insurance. It’s only the rebuild value that insurers need, not the resale value. You should also consider the cost of materials, labour and architects and the cost of somewhere for you and your family to stay during the rebuild. A broker can calculate your total rebuild value for you.

Contents insurance covers your belongings. Even if you rent, you should have a contents policy, it is unlikely your landlord will cover you. Be realistic about what your belongings are worth otherwise you may be underinsured if you have to make a claim. Go through each room in your house and work out how much all your furniture, crockery, white goods, clothing, books, toys, jewellery and miscellaneous items would cost to replace.

Combined buildings and contents insurance is recommended for homeowners. Before taking out a combined policy, check the excesses, as some insurance companies have separate excesses for each area of insurance cover. This could affect your finances, if you have fire or flood damage and have to claim on your buildings and contents insurance.

If you decide to take out separate cover with different insurers, you may find they disagree over liabilities when you make a claim. An insurance broker can manage this on your behalf if you have taken out cover through them.

If you do decide to use comparison sites to save money on your home insurance, be aware that some insurance companies are charging more interest than credit cards for monthly payments. Interest charges range from 16.5% to 33.2% for monthly payments.

If you would like us to look at the whole market for you, contact us on 0121 321 4600 or request a call back.

UnderinsuranceSmall and medium sized businesses need commercial insurance to cover their premises, contents, machinery and equipment. If you are sourcing your business insurance online and your only consideration is to minimise the cost of the premium, you may find that your insurance cover leaves you out of pocket if you need to make a claim.

Underinsurance is a common problem. 40% of businesses do not have enough business interruption cover to get them back on their feet (Building Cost Information Service 2012).

Rebuilding costs
The sum insured should take account of the actual rebuilding costs, not the market value. Depending on the type of property, reinstating the building back to a useable position following an incident may cost more than you think once you include materials, labour and professional fees, not to mention loss of earnings during the rebuilding period. In 25% of SME claims reviewed by the FCA, the indemnity period expired before they returned to a normal trading position (FCA thematic review of SME claims TR15/6 2015).

Business interruption insurance
The consequences of an insured incident could result in reduced or complete loss of income from your business for an unknown period. It is therefore important to check how long the indemnity period is on your insurance policy. Two years is likely to be needed for a business to fully recover to its original trading level.
These calculations can be complicated, considering all of the eventualities that could delay getting your business back up and running; for example, delays in planning permissions when rebuilding, long lead times for replacing stock or machinery and replacing customers lost due to downtime.

This is where a broker can offer their expert advice. Depending on your business circumstances they may suggest a declaration-linked, non-average basis of insurance, because it provides an uplift of 33% providing that the sum insured is correct initially and declarations are made when requested by insurers. Alternatively, a policy that is based on the estimated amount of gross-profit or revenue that you expect to earn.

Legal liability claim
Claims against your business can come from a variety of risks and insurance is designed to provide adequate levels of cover of usually £5 to £10 million. The types of cover to consider include:

  • Employers liability
  • Public and products liability
  • Directors and officers liability
  • Cyber threats
  • Environmental liability
  • Professional indemnity

You will have to assess the risk levels within your own business to determine whether the level of cover is going to be enough for your individual circumstances.

Benefits of using an insurance broker
Insurance is complex and it is not easy to assess all of the risks associated with your business and to select the most suitable insurance policy to meet your needs. Get it wrong and you could jeopardise the future of your business.

An insurance broker will be able to offer advice and select the most suitable policy for your business. They can arrange accurate valuations to ensure you have exactly the right amount of cover in place when you need it.

7th February 2017

High net worth insurance

Insurance for private clients with unique requirements and higher value items to protect will benefit from high net worth insurance.

High value homes and contents, including specific items of jewellery, art collections and furniture, will be covered for their full replacement value and your insurance policy can be tailored to your exact requirements.

High net worth insurance can also cover all of your other possessions, including cars, yachts and motorboats.

Insurance for high value motor vehicles
Private clients are more likely to have cars valued at over £100,000, either on the road or in storage. Vehicles valued at these sort of figures need specialist insurance cover to provide adequate protection for cars, drivers and personal belongings.

Additional services may also be required such as a dedicated claims handler to discuss repair options, availability of premium courtesy cars and legal expenses cover.

Other features include insurance for personal number plates, unlimited European use, fully comprehensive cover when driving other cars and business use as standard.

Cover can also be extended to track days to provide accidental damage and liability insurance, if required.

Yacht-High-Net-Worth-InsuranceYacht and motorboat insurance
Flexible and enhanced insurance for a broad range of vessels can be provided for private clients and includes a wider scope of cover and higher limits.

To ensure the most effective insurance policy is available to meet the needs of the modern boating community, we can offer the following:
  • Underwriting decisions made on a boat-by-boat basis.
  • Awarding customers the ability to choose more comprehensive racing cover where they need it, on top of standard liability cover.
  • Protecting customers who use their tender or dinghy away from their main vessel.
  • Removing excess to pay where deemed not at fault and third party details are available.
  • Rescue and repatriation regardless of liability for the customer or their guests for up to £50,000.
CLA (Risk Solutions) can discuss your individual insurance requirements and provide accurate valuations to ensure you are fully covered, whatever your lifestyle.

18th October 2016

Smart home security

At a glance
  • Surveys suggest half of us are planning to buy a smart home device during the next 12 months
  • Devices available and what you should consider before buying one
  • Discounts on home insurance may be available from some insurers due to improved home security
Security is a key driver in smart home technology
While only one-fifth of consumers already own a smart home device, almost half are considering doing so within the next 12 months. Surveys show that home security is the prime motivation for nearly two-thirds of people considering buying a smart device.

Home-automation-securityAdvantages of smart home security devices
The devices currently available range from smart locks, which allow a user to lock or unlock doors remotely via their smartphone, to smart cameras that can stream and record video footage from inside or outside a property.

The most obvious advantage of such devices is that they offer new ways to protect your property that traditional devices cannot match.

However, smart home devices also have the power to positively change people’s behaviour.
Research suggests that 95% of alarms in the UK are false alarms. Hence, house alarms often get ignored and over time, this changes the behaviour of homeowners, as many will eventually decide there is no point switching their house alarm on.

Using the new technology, security devices can detect sound or movement that are unusual and send a notification to a user’s smartphone. They can then decide whether to sound an alarm, call the police or take no action if they are satisfied nothing untoward is going on.

What are the risks of smart home devices?
There could be a number of reasons why many people have yet to invest in smart home technologies:
  • Cost
  • Concerns devices will be complicated to install
  • Fears over privacy
  • Hacking and cyber security concerns
In relation to cyber security, although there have been isolated cases where hackers have managed to take control of webcams, baby monitors and other smart home devices, theft of personal data is a greater risk.

With 70% of IoT (Internet of Things) devices suspected to have cyber security vulnerabilities, it’s important you select smart devices with high cyber security standards.

To find out what you can do to reduce your insurance premiums by installing smart home devices, call one of our Account Managers or fill in our enquiry form.
Tenancy-agreement-form1. Tenancy Agreement
Update your tenancy agreement and check the special conditions and side notices you wish to include. Pay particular attention to the prescribed information and deposit conditions.

2. References & ID/file Check
Ensure that you have carried out thorough checks on your tenant before they move in and that the
person signing and moving in is the same person you have referenced, by checking their identity and their immigration status.

3. Prepare Your Service Details
Ensure you have proof of service all of the items you need to service at the beginning of a tenancy, such as gas certificate, smoke alarms check, How to Rent guide, Energy Performance Certificate, and any local constraints tenants need to follow such as parking restrictions or use of shared areas.

To protect yourself in the future, ask your tenant to sign your checklist to show that you have carried out all of the required steps as laid out by the De-regulation Bill. Without these you may not be able to issue a Section 21 and seek a possession order.

4. Have Landlords Insurance
Landlords' insurance isn't compulsory, but some lenders make it a requirement of taking out a buy-to-let
mortgage and it protects you for risks not covered under domestic policies. A complete landlords’ policy should include buildings insurance, accidental damage cover and financial protection against loss of rent.

5. Subscribe to a Legal Resource and Learn
Managing your own property saves on agency fees, but puts the risk on you. By not issuing a ‘How to Rent’ guide can mean you cannot evict the tenant using a Section 21.

Not issuing a gas certificate or checking smoke alarms, could lead to prosecution, so make sure you are
aware of ALL the things you need to do when you start a tenancy to protect YOU and reserve your rights as a landlord.
High net worth insurance provides premier insurance cover for all of your possessions, members of your family and can also provide cover when any of you travel abroad.

We understand that as a high net worth household you will need an insurance policy with the ability not only to protect your individual requirements, but also gives you a whole raft of additional services:
  • Valuation service
  • Security advice
  • GP helpline
  • Home sitting service
  • Jewellery repair and replacement service
  • Specialist vehicle repairers
  • Premium courtesy cars
  • Vehicle breakdown and recovery
  • Personal injury physiotherapy cover
  • Travel advice
Antique-vaseCLA are an experienced high net worth insurance brokers with the ability to tailor exactly the right amount of cover for your needs. This can include items you take with you when you travel abroad, possessions belonging to grandparents while they are in a nursing home and items belonging to your children while studying away from home.

High value home insurance
Valuation of high value properties should be undertaken by specialists to ensure adequate cover is maintained for the full re-building cost based on age and status of your home. We can arrange for experienced valuers to assess your property so that any claims can be handled quickly and for the exact amount they are worth.

High value contents insurance
Antiques, collectibles or the latest gadgets can all be individually valued for the right amount to ensure you are fully covered. As your broker, we can arrange independent valuations for all of your possessions including works of art and jewellery.

We can even arrange for details of specific items of jewellery to be recorded so that repairs or a replica can be made to replace the lost or damaged item.

Quality_carsVehicle insurance
High value cars require a higher level of support than a standard motor insurance policy can provide. Should you find yourself off the road for any reason, you want to be confident that you will receive the full replacement value of your car or be able to arrange for specialist repairs to be undertaken. You would also expect a similar premium level of courtesy car while yours is off the road.

Travel insurance
Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, you can add travel insurance to your home insurance cover. The policy will cover any member of your family and domestic staff. No need for separate policies, everyone will be covered under the one policy for the entire year.

Complete peace of mind
If you need additional cover for marine craft or any other specific items, call us to arrange a meeting with one of our Account Managers to discuss your individual requirements.

At a glance
  • With an estimated 20,000 squatters in the UK, unlawful occupation is one of the biggest risks owners face when leaving property empty
  • Other risks facing your property-owning customers include theft, vandalism and accidental damage
  • We explore some of these key risks and provide strategies on how to mitigate them
Empty-property-lowThere are an estimated 600,000 unoccupied homes in England, according to a recent report from the Empty Homes Agency. In addition, it is estimated there is enough vacant commercial property to create a further 420,000 homes.

Reasons why properties are left vacant vary – from owners being unable to find a tenant, to the need for substantial refurbishment before they can be sold or let. Occasionally, in areas where property prices are rising rapidly, commercial premises are left vacant to accumulate in value, because the costs of letting may actually outweigh the building’s rental value.

Whatever the reason, vacant properties may carry additional risks for property owners, particularly when left empty for long periods of time. We examine some of the main risks below, and what property owners can do to mitigate them.

Unlawful occupation
Although the Government does not keep official figures on the number of squatters in England, the most recent estimate, made by the Ministry of Justice in 2012, put the figure at around 20,000.
In 2012, a new law was introduced, making squatting in a residential property a criminal offence, punishable by up to six months in jail or a fine of up to £5,000.

However, squatting in commercial properties is not a crime and the process of evicting squatters using the civil courts can take several weeks and incur substantial legal costs. Evicting unlawful occupants can therefore be an expensive annoyance for commercial property owners.

Theft and criminal damage
Even if a property owner does manage to evict squatters, or if they have left voluntarily by the time the owner comes to sell or let their property, it is possible that significant damage may already have been caused, either by squatters or other trespassers.

Vacant properties can be at increased risk of crime. Theft is a significant risk, not just of contents but also of fixtures and fittings, such as pipework or boilers, which can be expensive to replace.

Water damage
Another significant risk of damage in vacant premises is water damage. If a building is unoccupied for several months without regular inspections and maintenance, there is a significantly increased risk of water damage, for example from burst pipes, or a small water leak that goes undetected and becomes more serious.

Under the Defective Premises Act 1972 and Occupiers Liability Act 1984, property owners have a duty of care to protect anybody who sets foot in a vacant property (including estate agents, surveyors, members of the emergency services, trespassers and vandals) – from hazards or defects that might cause them harm.

If somebody was injured, or a neighbouring property suffered damage, as a result of a defect in a vacant building, a legal claim could be made against the owner.

Mitigating the risks
So, what should property owners do to lessen the risks outlined above?
The first step should be to carry out a thorough risk assessment. The nature of this appraisal will vary depending on the type of property, but it should cover:
  • How easy it is for intruders to gain entry and remain undetected
  • Whether there is anything in the property likely to attract thieves, and how secure items are
  • Whether there are any hazards or defects that could create a risk of injury to others
Security should be a top priority. This means installing good quality locks and burglar alarms, and also considering additional measures such as mobile security cameras. Owners should also ensure a basic level of maintenance of their properties, including removing anything that is likely to give a building the appearance of being uncared for and therefore unoccupied, such as fly posters and graffiti.
Other basic measures that can reduce vacant property risk include:
  • Ensuring that wherever possible, utilities and electric systems are switched off to reduce the risk of fire or water damage
  • Draining all fuel and water tanks and systems. Arranging for periodic inspections to check for signs of intrusion or evidence of damage or disrepair, e.g. water leaks, or potential hazards such as rubble, protruding nails or live wiring
  • Securely closing letterboxes in residential properties. Letterboxes are often used by arsonists to set a building on fire
How can CLA help?
Our insurers offer unlawful occupation cover as standard, as part of their Real Estate insurance proposition and can also provide additional services where needed. A team of Risk Engineers can give property owners more detailed guidance on how to mitigate the risks of their entire portfolio, including any vacant properties.

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

Flooded_street_sandbags_protecting_property_compressedVermin, storms, fire, floods and foul play - not a line from Shakespeare but just some of the problems that commercial, residential and buy-to-let property owners face.

Daily headlines prove that what used to be seen as a good ticket to a steady income, can quickly turn in to a nightmare. With so many potential risks that can trip up property owners, industry insiders are shocked that large numbers still don’t check how thorough their insurance cover is. Forced by legislation to have certain insurance products in place, and desperate to keep costs down, many property owners are turning to policies purchased online or direct. This could leave them with disastrous cracks and gaps when it comes to making a claim.

Property owners of all types have money invested in their buildings, and protecting this can’t be left to impersonal questionnaires or faceless call centres. And with all the horror stories about tenants from hell, do property owners really need the added nightmare of researching and pining down the correct range of insurance products from the most appropriate insurer?

Independent, local  insurance brokers like us understand the unique and complex challenges facing this sector. We have the market knowledge and expertise to help property owners like you get the right policies, with the right limits, at the best possible premium. Unlike an online form or an  insurance “package”, we quickly grasp the wide range of variables you may face such as empty properties, theft, malicious and accidental damage and damage to your own accommodation or office.

We have another vital benefit to offer property owners too – local knowledge. This is a sector for which location, location, location has wide-sweeping meaning.  We know the special challenges faced by inner city, urban and remote properties and the finer points of where your property is too. If a claim does have to be made, local brokers like us can visit the premises, gather relevant information swiftly, and argue a case with insurers with authority.

The first step to achieving success for any future claims is for us to understand exactly what it is you need for your property.  It is not just what cover you have that counts, but at what levels and limits. For example are the sums insured on your property up to date with its value? Again, personal knowledge of the premises is a huge help because the insurance needs of an upmarket buy-to-let flat, inner city lock up shop and urban factory could not be more diverse.

CLA can look at your landlord insurance policy, and buildings, land and contents cover.  We can also advise on any extra covers you may need like Employers Liability insurance, legal expenses cover, rent guarantee insurance, equipment breakdown and loss of rent due to damage.

All of this helps is to make sure you are not paying for cover you don’t actually need. More importantly, it ensures that your commercial, residential or buy-to-let property is protected from the perils that could lead to loss of income. How much easier will it be for us to get your claims settled swiftly, if we are not knocking at a locked door?

Birmingham_commercialWhich comes first to boost local economies – more housing and improved living conditions, or investment in infrastructure and new job opportunities? Fortunately for Birmingham, the area is getting a substantial amount of both, leading to new optimism for local SMEs.

More than 1,000 homes are to be developed in Birmingham as part of one of the biggest investments in city living the West Midlands has ever seen. The £125m investment package covers three sites. Seven Capital has bought One Hagley Road (at Five Ways in Edgbaston), the St George’s Urban Village scheme (in the Jewellery Quarter) and the Point North building (at the Waterfront in Brierley Hill). Construction – which will create around 600 jobs – will start immediately and is just the tip of the iceberg according to pundits. It is believed that Seven has wider plans to develop 5,000 homes in the region within five years.

So is this major development inspired by the recent infrastructure announcements for the greater Birmingham area? Or is the area’s determination to create better housing the reason it is enjoying a renaissance in commercial investment? Either way, with the proposed HS2 faster rail link to London, improvements to New Street Station, and the Birmingham International Airport extension, the future is looking brighter for greater Birmingham.

Major brands such as Jaguar Land Rover, JLR and Deutsch Bank are also showing commitment to the locality meaning that the new housing is going to be vital. Businesses of all types and sizes could benefit from Birmingham’s resurgence, but “seizing the day” often takes behind the scenes planning and careful consideration.

When putting together business plans to explore new opportunities, insurance should never be overlooked, particularly if additional risks are being generated by business growth or diversity. An independent local broker such as us can help you to dig through business plans and opportunities to find the essential cover you need to protect against risks now and in the immediate future. Having access to local expert advice – from people who know your business well – means greater flexibility and adaptability as you carve your niche in Birmingham’s new era of growth.

Birmingham_commercial_propertyCommercial property owners in the UK could be losing out on billions of pounds because they are not claiming tax relief, according to City experts Deloitte.

This is not just an issue for large corporates, but SMEs of all shapes and types too. Under the capital allowances scheme, every commercial building in the UK, from manufacturing plants to retail shops, is entitled to tax relief on items such as lighting cabling, radiators and air conditioning units.

The Deloitte research claims that 96% of commercial property owners have not taken advantage of this allowance, losing out on an estimated £70bn to £80bn.

Changes in legislation from April 2014 also mean the tax relief will be lost if you sell the property and the tax allowances are not flagged up in your accounts. This means business people buying properties must look carefully to ensure vendors have receipts, fittings lists and other data to support capital allowances. Capital allowances are a form of tax relief available to commercial property owners and many leaseholders. They cover items bought for use within the business, such as expenditure on plant and machinery, some office equipment, fixtures and fittings and integral features.

So why are so many commercial property owners missing out? Possibly for the same reasons many don’t have the right level of insurance cover (which means they are potentially paying too much or leaving themselves badly underinsured). Retailers, manufacturers, owners of office complexes all have the same issue – not enough time in the day to cover all the issues that besiege them.

That’s why seeking outside help from qualified professionals is not an admission of “failure” or a “luxury”, but in many cases a way of saving money and staying afloat.

In the case of insurance provision, independent brokers such as ourselves can do a thorough assessment of your risks and potentially save you money. We can also make sure when the worst does happen, you have sufficient cover and a highly responsive claims service to keep your business afloat.

We can’t sort out your tax affairs, but we can be a vital part of your team of professional advisors.