Surveys finds brokers are taking up more business protection cover.

The economic downturn has fuelled demand for business protection products among the managers of smaller and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to figures from Norwich Union.

The insurer said 45% of SMEs had some form of business protection insurance. This compares with only 38% that have their own life insurance and 20% that offer health or dental insurance. But 61% of respondents have cover for premises or equipment.

When asked to rate the most important insurance product for their business, nearly five times as many managers of SMEs thought it was more important to protect against the loss of a key employee than to insure their own life, according to the study.

One in six SME managers was regularly waking in the middle of the night worrying about business, the survey also found.

Nearly half (46%) of SME owners cited a market downturn as the main cause of their stress, while nearly a third (30%) were most stressed about customers defaulting on payments.

The insurer commissioned the survey to coincide with the launch of its business protection website.