Changes called for by both insurers and tradesman groups

Groupama has revamped its tradesman’s policies to cater for an increase in the numbers of part-time staff.

More than one million people are working part-time during the recession, the highest figure since records began in 1992, says the Office for National Statistics.

As a result, Groupama is offering more competitive premiums for part-time staff through its Optima Trade Plus Policy.

The part-time cover is available for employees who work fewer than than 16 hours during the week and covers public and employers’ liability, tools, trade contents, contract works, business interruption and personal accident.

Commercial director Malcolm Smith said the changes were made in response to broker feedback from the insurer’s roadshows and tradesman focus groups.

“The cover is particularly suitable for firms such as cleaning businesses that have a high proportion of staff working 10 to 15 hours a week,” he said.

“This, along with variable commission and the extranet, our online negotiation facility, offers brokers much more flexibility over the premium they can offer their small business customers.”

In other changes sparked by the feedback, Groupama has increased the maximum number of employees to 12 for contracting trades and 20 for professional trades without referral. It can now cover contract works for speculative builders.

Smith said: “Firms with fewer than nine employees represent 89% of all UK businesses. It’s a substantial sector of our economy, yet it’s also the most vulnerable and many are struggling to meet their costs.”

Brokers will also be allowed modest negotiations for policies that fall under preferred trades. The company’s extranet has also been extended to accommodate non-listed trades.

Earlier this month, Groupama launched its variable commission deals on commercial products.

The deals allow brokers, within a specified range, to reduce commission to compete on premiums or select a higher commission, ending the need to bill customers on top with service charges.

Alternatively, brokers can select no commission and bill on a fee basis or select the default commission.

Smith said: “All these changes are a result of broker feedback. We believe they will go down well.”

He added that the variable commission deals had only been running for a week, but the response so far had been good.