Small and medium-sized businesses are signing up to the internet revolution apace - but are they considering the potential liabilities of trading over the web?

Royal & SunAlliance has just launched Websafe, a business policy aimed at companies with turnovers of up to £5 million.

It is designed to cover against claims for fraudulent use of customers' credit and debit card details, infringement of copyright, patent and intellectual property rights, defamation of third parties and misuse of confidential information.

The policy also protects the insured against claims arising from the infection of a third party's hardware or software with a virus, damage to their web site caused by a third party and direct financial loss caused by hackers.

More than 160 million people have access to the internet and, according to an NOP survey, on-line spending in the UK will increase to £9 billion by the end of 2000.

Alan Telford, professional and financial risks underwriting manager for RSA, said: "We're aiming to make life easier for the increasing number of companies eager to harness new technology, but which are exposed to the complex new risks and liabilities involved in the use of e-commerce and the internet that may not be covered by conventional insurance products."

The minimum premium for one year's cover is £300.