How Businesses Can Use The 2020 Experience to Prepare for 2021

Preparing your business for 2021

2020 has been a challenging year for most businesses, with SMEs in particular having to adapt to the ever-changing environment to survive and thrive. Many SMEs have transformed their business models by going online and pushing digital products as shopping habits change and Skype and Zoom have been adopted as key methods of communication.

With these changing ways of working, and the tenacity and innovative spirit that so many SMEs have shown, protection and security of business and employees is important as we look towards 2021.

Cyber security for business

Small businesses are now using more online software, websites and data as they adapt to the new trading conditions imposed by lockdown and social distancing restrictions.

The impact on your business could be catastrophic if a cyber criminal is able to access your online bank account or your customer information. It’s therefore important to consider cyber insurance and what you can do to help protect your business.

With the increasing reliance on computer systems and the internet, SMEs are potentially subject to attack by cyber criminals. Whether your whole business is based “in the cloud” or your dependence on the digital world is limited, you will still be exposed to cyber crime and risks such as business interruption, income loss, damage limitation management, repair of IT equipment and systems failures and possibly reputational damage.

Many businesses underestimate the cyber threat and don’t believe that they are at risk. They often do not see cyber as priority and lack the resources or knowledge to defend themselves against cyber attacks.

Cyber insurance for your business

Consider taking out cyber insurance, also known as cyber liability insurance or data protection insurance. It helps keep businesses protected against cyber crime and covers losses relating to damage to or loss of information from IT systems and networks.

Remote working and employee safety

There has been an explosion of remote working. It is estimated that Covid-19 has resulted in nearly 4.2milion people working from home remotely and without other colleagues nearby.

This means carrying out work activities in isolation from other people and, importantly, without direct supervision.

Out of sight is not out of mind, as you still have the same duty of care to health, safety and welfare of staff working from home as you do in your office.  As more accidents happen in the home than anywhere else, health and safety risks need to be addressed. Make sure your staff complete ‘Working from Home questionnaires’ to assist your risk assessments.

One of the most cost effective ways of doing this is to choose an insurance policy that provides practical Health & Safety advice online including:

  • Setting up your workstation ergonomically.
  • Being mindful of wellbeing whilst sat at your computer.
  • Enabling employers to advise and monitor the health and safety of their homeworkers.
  • Establishing an effective Lone Working Buddy System if required for your role.
  • Using the right display screen equipment

Remember your employers’ liability insurance

Don’t forgot, if you are an SME that employs staff, employers liability insurance is still required when staff are working remotely.

Keeping business insurance policies up to date

During these difficult times, many businesses are understandably reviewing outgoings; including reducing insurance cover and in some cases as a last resort cancelling insurance policies.

While this can be a short-term solution, the long-term impact can be potentially catastrophic, leaving business owners personally liable for losses no longer covered by insurance policies.

Unless you have stopped trading or have decided to close your business permanently, you should not leave yourself without any insurance protection. Even if you are not trading at the same way or same level as pre-Covid-19, there is still a risk, particularly for those policies that include loss or damage to your property (buildings, machinery or stock) or elements of liability cover (public, professional, products or employers).

Professional indemnity insurance (PII)

Professionals giving advice are potentially liable to claims arising from past work. Therefore, if you have temporarily suspended your practice, you should maintain your PI cover in force since a claim can be received at any time. Moreover, dissatisfied customers that are short of funds, may see now as being the perfect timing to make allegations of poor advice against you.

PI cover is arranged on a  claims-made basis and will respond  to an allegation of breach of professional duty, first made against you in the current  period of insurance, Importantly, the  retroactive date in your policy must coincide with the date when you first arranged the cover and the date of the alleged wrongful advice must be after the retro-date.  

If you cancel this policy, there are some serious consequences:

  • You will lose all historic cover, leaving you without any cover for incidents that may have already occurred, even if you’re not yet aware of them.
  • Cover for past work may not be available, when the policy is reinstated.
  • If you do not have a live policy in place and an incident is reported to you, regardless of when the incident took place and whether cover was in place at the time, it will not be covered

It is important you understand what basis your policy is provided on, to understand how cancelling this cover could impact you.

Make sure you have the right protection in place

If you want to make any changes to your insurance cover, or if your business has made any changes to deal with the ongoing crisis, speak to the Towergate business insurance team before making any decisions.

Business insurance from Towergate

Whether you’re a large business, SME or sole trader, work from home or have a property empire - Towergate have got an insurance policy for you. For more information, visit our dedicated business insurance page.

About the author

Mike Stephens is a respected senior industry professional and Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) with well over 40 years’ varied experience in the commercial insurance sector as a director, underwriter, and operational improvement manager.