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Winter Weather Damage is a cause of concern for independent retailers. Here's how to avoid it. Weather-proof your pocket
By bira

Weather-proof your pocket

Climate change seems to be making British winter weather even worse and more unpredictable. Bira members can avoid costly repairs and reduce the risk of winter weather damage with these quick tips from Towergate, the provider of Bira Insurance.

UK WINTER WEATHER seems to throw everything at us – wind, rain, snow, ice and floods – and sometimes all on the same day. As a major insurer of retailers Towergate sees the causes and consequences of winter damage. These tips are designed to keep you trading in bad weather and reduce the risk of financial loss to your business by carrying out some simple checks.

  • Door and window frames – Check for signs of damage or leakage.
  • Gutters – Clear gutters to preventing over-flowing and a dangerous ice rink developing on the surface below.
  • Keep floors dry – A simple and effective act would be to fit a welcome mat at the front door to encourage customers to wipe their feet before entering. An umbrella stand near the front door encourages customers to drop off their brolly instead of carrying it around, risking damaging your stock with the wet fabric. A Wet Floor sign helps reduce slips and trips.
  • Burst pipes – Frozen pipes are common and a cause of what are among the most expensive insurance claims made during the chilly months. Inspect lagging on pipes and tanks to prevent them from freezing. Keeping the heating on low to prevent freezing is a lot less costly than dealing with the consequences of thousands of gallons of water pouring through your premises.
  • Electrical installations – These require periodic testing and inspection to ensure they are safe for continued use. This can be provided by a Level 3 NVQ qualified electrician. Faulty junction boxes and other electrical equipment can lead to fires – and loss of life.
  • Fire precautions – Are extinguishers correctly installed and properly maintained? If you have a sprinkler, that will need checking too. Is adequate emergency lighting installed? You should make certain that approved quality fire doors are fitted, that passageways are free from obstacles, and that emergency exits are not blocked or locked.
  • Fit sturdy handrails on stairways – when stairs are wet people tend to rely more on a sturdy handrail.
    We help your business weather any storm.


How to find the best broker for you

Finding the right insurance broker who ticks all the boxes needn’t be a time-consuming or stressful process.

List up to three brokers

Select a shortlist, including your current broker, based on recommendations. Ask them about their expertise in your sector. Find people who have a passion for the market you’re in. Tell the brokers they are on a shortlist. They are likely to invest more in a serious potential client.

Compare cover as well as cost

Ignore brokers whose advertising is heavily reliant on price. Your shortlist should include companies who truly understand your business and can demonstrate a successful track record. Set a clear deadline for quotes – normally 30-60 days prior to your renewal date.
Request a copy of claims experience Request a five-year claims experience report from your current broker. Be clear about your timeline so they cannot hold you to ransom by releasing terms at the last minute. This claims experience will help each broker obtain terms.

What’s most important to you?

Tell your shortlist what factors are important to you. Think about the current processes for claims reporting and monitoring. You need to get enough information on the status of your claims. Don’t accept a quotation which doesn’t deliver the level of service you need.

Help calculating rebuilding costs

If you own your building you need to correctly disclose the rebuilding cost. Research carried out by the Building Cost Information Service, part of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, reported that 80% of commercial properties in England and Wales are underinsured. Your broker should help you obtain an accurate reinstatement value by explaining what needs to be included and, if required, introduce you to a RICS-approved company to do this for you.

Advice on emerging risks

Brokers should be able to advise you proactively on growing risks, for example cyber and data attacks, crime, terrorism, credit insurance, environmental issues, as well as evolving to health and safety issues. Ask each broker how they keep clients up-to-date with such information.

Discuss risk management

Ask about their risk management service, as insurers value the effort clients make in managing their own risk. Effective risk management delivers lower pricing and better terms. Talk your brokers through any new training, security, risk management or health & safety initiatives you have invested in and ask how they can help.

Loyalty has its rewards

You shouldn’t change insurer on an annual basis. Insurance underwriting relies on stable, long-term relationships with clients. Insurers will often put more attractive terms forward for a company who reviews their insurance every three years rather than one switching annually.

Towergate Insurance listened to what Bira members said they needed and created a unique policy that is only available to you as a member.

Complete the form below to receive a tailored Bira Insurance quote for your independent business.

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