August’s rioting provides a golden opportunity for brokers to prove their worth, says Barbara Bradshaw

Once upon a time there were two shopkeepers, neighbours in the high street of a busy, perhaps tad architecturally challenged, town. Mr P sold electrical goods, Mr S sold upmarket ladies fashion. Each was trying to encourage locals to spend their spare cash as both were struggling due to the recession.

Then one day a month or so ago, Mr S’s windows were smashed and his shop looted, and Mr P had his protective grille ripped off and every TV and appliance stolen.

Tale of two covers

Now, Mr P was fully insured through an insurance broker, but sadly Mr S had decided his alarm and locks were protection enough and taken the cost of insurance off his books.

Although Mr S had recourse to the police authority for the material damage, he lost out on business interruption as this was not within the remit of the relevant act. And, as his part of the street was cordoned off, even with emergency glazing and a new door in place no one could get to his shop for a while.

Mr P was feeling a mite smug as his insurance broker and his insurer’s loss adjuster were quick to the scene. (Insurers had to be there quickly or they would lose their subrogation rights against the police authority.) And, his denial of access cover and loss of attraction cover cemented his claim for business interruption. So although Mr P was unhappy and, indeed, nervous about the future, he was back in business and shortly afterwards took over the saddened Mr S’s shop. Happy ending? Well, of course!

Opportunity knocks

My point is that seriously disturbing events such as the riots really demonstrate the value of professional advice –a facility, I suspect, not offered by the new breed of SME insurance websites. Is this sad series of events not an opportunity for insurance brokers to show their value?

We seem to be living in a period of extremes – extremes of behaviour and weather. Each will have worried the business owner but none more so than civil commotion. It may not have been your town, but it could have been – and isn’t that what insurance is all about?

Policy rethink

OK, so there has been unusual flooding in recent years and the economic crisis has increased the likelihood of burglary, but something as shocking as this August’s riots will make retailers large and small look at their insurance policy. They should be looking to you and you should be looking for them.

Going to see ‘victims’ and indeed other retailers who are worried isn’t ambulance chasing, it is an opportunity to show your skills at their best. Get out there now. Just because your town or suburb wasn’t affected by riots doesn’t mean shopkeepers are breathing a sigh of relief and getting back to business as normal. Many will be unsure of the mixed messages emanating from the media about compensation. Your opportunity is NOW.

PS: Funny, I haven’t heard of any insurance brokers being looted!

Barbara Bradshaw is chief executive of The Institute of Insurance Brokers (IIB).