Perceived high risk industries, such as construction, are most worried about premium rises, but across small businesses generally cash flow is a problem, according to research by Zurich UK

More than 85% of small businesses in the construction sector are concerned about the impact of rising insurance premiums on their businesses, according to research from Zurich's UK commercial business.

Last week, both the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) published their much anticipated reports into liability insurance. The National Federation of Builders welcomed the reports, but said more immediate action was necessary to help alleviate the problem of escalating premiums.

Carl Gebhard, construction manager for Zurich's UK commercial business, said: "The most important thing that the construction industry can do to control premiums is to invest in, and manage, health and safety within the business.

"With many potential hazards, good risk management is an essential tool for all companies.

"The insurance industry is becoming more sophisticated in terms of risk selection and companies need to demonstrate what measures and controls have been implemented to minimise the potential for accidents."

Results from the insurer's SME Index, which monitors confidence levels among small and medium sized enterprises on a quarterly basis, also revealed that other industries which expressed concern over rising insurance premiums were mining (79%), transport (78%) and retail 70%).

Zurich is urging brokers to support businesses within the construction industry and has the following top tips for brokers with clients in the sector:

  • Give your client advice about managing risk in the business. There is a lot of valuable information available from the HSE
  • Advise them about vetting their subcontractors to make sure they work to a high standard, and let the insurer know how they are managed on site. Check their insurance is renewed including terms and conditions and what control processes are in place.
  • Advise clients about what to do in the event of an accident and help them to draft a procedure that must be followed in their business
  • Provide the underwriter with as much information as you have on health and safety and anything the client does to prevent accidents within the business
  • Explain to the underwriter in detail what the client does, providing examples of recent projects and split the wages and turnover by activity
  • Know your clients. If they no longer carry out a particular hazardous activity, let the underwriter know
  • Give details on any large losses and how they will be prevented in the future
  • Advise what precautions, processes and measures have been implemented to improve the risk
  • Help your client to be compliant with health and safety regulations
  • Ensure that all training and health and safety procedures are documented.
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