Business Insurance: Business Interruption Cover Explained

Business Interruption Insurance is usually sold as part of a Commercial Insurance combined policy or package and provides a layer of insurance against not being able to trade following a claim.

In addition to the physical loss of the claim, the financial loss to the business stemming therefrom needs to be dealt with by an interruption policy.

Formerly called ‘consequential loss’, ‘loss of profits’ and/or ‘profits insurance’, which can be misleading terms, the protection granted is in accordance with a policy formula, i.e. rate of gross profit applied to the reduction in turnover of the business in consequence of an insured peril, together with the increased costs to minimise an aggravated loss (but not exceeding the loss so saved) arising within the maximum indemnity period (as selected to be insured).

Provision is made for the accountancy definitions and the business, the premises and the insured to be defined. In any claim, adjustment can be made to the precious financial account figures so that the loss is in respect of the ‘would have been’ results that would have applied if the damage had not occurred.

The perils insured (for which there must normally be counter-part physical damage cover) can extend to include those normal to property insurances and such special perils as failure of public electricity or gas supply, loss from infectious disease for hotel and similar trades, or electrocution of cattle in farming risks.

Machinery breakdown covers can usually be arranged on selected plant. Advance profits covers can be arranged for new ventures and these may include marine transit risks.

Provision can be made, with first-loss limitations applying, to extend interruption insurance to protect the financial trading of the business following damage to other people’s premises (those of suppliers, subcontractors, customers, etc.) and in transit.

It is normal, in the current economic conditions, to insure 100 per cent of the remuneration of all employees at a reduced-rate level, but more employee cover can be arranged in this respect in suitable cases. This limited cover is largely a ‘social’ protection to staff and their retention after a loss is thus safeguarded. While savings can be made by non-replacement where employees leave, the cover is not on the basis of the insured having to minimise the loss by dismissals.

The indemnity period, usually at least 12 months, is the limit up to which the recompense under the policy continues. It needs to be sufficient not only to restore the physical equipment and buildings but to allow turnover to reach the ‘would have been’ level. The sum insured is the forecast amount (including a margin to avoid under-insurance) that might be at risk for the 12 months from the end of the renewal period of the policy. Where the maximum indemnity period insured exceeds 12 months the figure is then proportionately increased. The premium is adjusted normally only to the extent of over-insurance.

For the small and medium-sized businesses, it is now possible to buy Commercial Insurance on what is termed a declaration basis. The cover may or may not include a maximum sum as a limit, but there will be no reduction applicable in the event of under-insurance (or a high sum insured limit is applied to avoid this); the premium is adjustable on the annual declaration,which must be received in a limited period from the end of the insured’s financial year.

The cover automatically provides for the cost of auditors in preparing financial details from the accounts, but not for the preparation of the claim itself.

It is often found that consequential losses will arise such as liquidated damages, above-economic increases in cost of working, deterioration or wastage of undamaged stock, etc. special items can be added to deal with these exposures. This section has indicated the need for individual review when arranging an interruption insurance and for the policy accountancy definitions to be suitable to the system of accounting adopted.

A further form of special cover called ‘book debts insurance’ provides for the loss flowing from the un-8urecovered monies from trading prior to the damage through the destruction of the account records and the inability to collect the outstanding debts. The essence of the insurance is the monthly declaration of outstanding book debts, which serves as a datum against which after damage the shortfall in recovery of book debts can be measured. A low rate is involved and the degree of duplication, protection of the records and sum insured determines further reduction to it.

It is in the field of interruption insurance that the importance of the assistance from loss adjusters and others arises, since as witnessed in the spate of recent natural disasters that have occurred, much can be done in emergency conditions to minimise the potential loss.

Business Interruption Insurance is today available on-line and is included as standard in all Commercial Insurance package polices. For larger business risks it is advisable to approach a specialist insurance broker direct.

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