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Business Insurance

Written by

Shaun McGowan

What is business insurance?

Business insurance is a financial protection product designed to support a business when it is put at financial risk. Businesses in Australia can suffer losses in a variety of ways, and the right business insurance policy will protect a business from all potential issues relevant to its operation.

Some types of business insurance in Australia are compulsory:

  • Workers’ Compensation Cover is required for any business with employees.
  • Third party Personal Injury Insurance is required if business employees operate a motor vehicle.
  • Public Liability Insurance is compulsory for certain businesses and trades, with varying requirements set out by each Australian state government.

What does business insurance cover?

The incidents and expenses covered under business insurance will depend on your specific insurance policy. These can range from minor incidents and losses, to severe business interruptions and legal proceedings. When you apply for business insurance, it is vital to ensure your policy includes the cover you require.

Some of the general events covered by insurance policies include:

  • Employee illness or injury
  • Customer injuries due to accidents
  • Product faults
  • Employee theft
  • Stolen or lost equipment and stock
  • Breaches of professional duty to clients, incorrect advice or mistakes
  • Business and asset protection
  • Natural disasters - e.g. fires, floods, earthquakes
What does Business Insurance cover
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Money Tip: Business insurance may also cover the loss of key staff members, legal expenses due to litigation, or sudden impacts on business revenue.

Types of Business Insurance

There are many different types of business insurance, and the first step to finding a suitable policy is to evaluate the needs of your business. Ensuring you include the required optional insurance cover can be just as crucial as meeting your requirements for compulsory cover.

Compulsory workers’ compensation insurance

All employers in Australia are required to obtain workers' compensation insurance. This type of business insurance protects your business and workers from financial hardship as the result of an accident or illness. As workers’ compensation is the core compulsory form of insurance in Australia, it is often a requirement to obtain this cover through an authorised insurer.

In the event of an work-related accident or illness, this cover will provide your employees with:

  • First aid
  • Workers' compensation
  • Return-to-work rehabilitation
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Money Tip: Many business insurers will also offer insurance package policies tailored to different business types and industries.
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What business insurance do you need?

If you operate a business - regardless of whether you employ workers - there are two types of insurance you will generally consider:

  1. Personal business insurance
  2. Business asset and property insurance

Below are some common examples of these types of insurance, and brief explanations on how they can work to protect your business from incurring unforeseen losses.

Personal business insurance

Type of Personal InsuranceHow it protects your business

Income protection or disability insurance

Covers part of your normal income if you are unable to work due to sickness or involvement in an accident.

Life insurance

Provides a lump sum or series of payments if you die or, in some cases, become permanently injured.

Total and permanent disability insurance

Provides a lump sum payment if you are permanently disabled before retirement.

Trauma insurance

Provides a lump sum payment if you develop a specified medical condition.

Business interruption or loss of profits

Covers your business in the event of damage to property by fire or other insured dangers which leads to loss of profits.

Management liability

Covers your personal assets if a director or manager of the business acts in an illegal or unethical way which results in losses to either individuals or other businesses.

Employee dishonesty

Covers losses incurred due to employee theft or fraud.

Where personal insurance covers incidents which directly relate to and affect individuals or companies, general types of business insurance are used to protect business assets, property and stock.

Business asset, stock, and property insurance

Type of Asset InsuranceHow it protects your business

Building and contents

Covers your building, contents and stock against events like fire, earthquake, lightning, storms, floods, impact, malicious damage and explosion.

Burglary

Insures your business assets against burglary. Commonly used by retailers.

Deterioration of stock

Covers your business when perishable stock is destroyed and deemed unusable following the breakdown of a refrigerator or freezer.

Electronic equipment

Covers specific business electronic items from theft, destruction or damage.

Farm insurance

Covers farm-related assets and stock, including crop destruction, death of livestock, vital farm buildings and machinery.

Goods in transit

Covers the theft or damage of goods you buy, sell or use as part of your business operations during transport.

Machinery breakdown

Covers accidental machinery or equipment breakdowns including costs incurred through storing, dismantling or demolishing the damaged machinery.

Tax audit

Covers the cost of fees incurred as part of a tax audit or investigation into your business finances.

Property in transit

Covers theft or damage of specific items transported for your business, such as tools and equipment.

Small Business Insurance

More than two million small businesses operate in Australia, and all of them require business insurance of some form. Small business insurance will vary substantially between industries, types of business, and the amount of risk each business-owner and their employees may be exposed to.

Some common types of small businesses using specialised insurance policies can be found in the table below.

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Small business insurance by Industry and Profession

Trades & ServicesRetail & HospitalityProfessional Occupations

Carpenter

Arts and Craft

Accountant

Cleaner

Cafe

Beauty Salon

Concretor

Catering

Bookkeeper

Couriers

Clothing

Disabilities Assistant

Electrician

Coffee Shop

Hairdresser

Gardens And Lawns

Direct Retail

IT Professional

Handyman

Florist

Real Estate

Home Builder/Renovator

Food Truck

Life Coach

Mechanic

Gift Shop

Management Consultant

Painter

Markets

Massage Therapist

Plumber

Restaurant

Migration Agent

Tiler

Takeaway

Personal Trainer

Business insurance for home business

If you operate your business from your home, you will still need to consider separate business insurance relative to how your business operates. Existing home and contents insurance will not automatically cover business losses, however many insurers may allow you to combine your existing policy with specified business insurance cover to maintain a streamlined policy.

If you employ others as part of your home business, you will still be required to obtain compulsory workers’ compensation insurance.

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Money Tip: Check your home insurance policy to see which parts of your business - if any - are covered under your existing policy. Some insurers may decline to cover damage or losses related to business-related items or equipment, even though they are kept in your home.
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Self-employed business insurance

If you are self-employed or work as a contractor, you are generally responsible for organising your own income protection insurance. If you are unable to work due to illness or injury, this means you will not be entitled to paid sick leave, and you may also not be entitled to workers' compensation payments if you are involved in a work-related accident.

To help manage expenses if you’re unable to work and earn income, you can consider taking out your own income protection insurance, which is available through most major insurers.

Other insurance you may wish to consider includes:

  • Liability insurance covers you for damage or injuries you may cause to other people or property while working
  • Asset and revenue insurance covers you for the loss, damage or theft of your work-related assets (such as your bicycle or car) or revenue
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Money Tip: Self-employed public liability insurance is not compulsory in Australia, but can be highly valuable if your business requires people to visit your home or business premises.

How much is business insurance?

The cost of business insurance is called a premium, and varies between policies and insurers. To reduce the cost of premiums, business-owners can often combine several types of business insurance into a single policy which is tailored for their specific needs and cover requirements.

However, premiums are not solely determined by the types of cover included in a policy, and may be determined by a number of other factors unique to your business operations.

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These factors may include:

  • Business industry - The risk-level of your industry is a major factor. For example, there are likely to be higher premiums on injury protection for construction businesses than for retail businesses.
  • Nature of the business - How your business operates is another major factor. For example, a construction business specialising in consultancy and project management will pose lower risk than a construction business specialising in demolition.
  • Business location - Where your business is physically located, and where it operates - i.e. solely from your business location, or at several off-site locations with various risk-levels.
  • Business size - This includes both the number of employees and premises, and your overall business income. A large number of employees working across multiple sites will inherently be riskier due to the increased potential number for incidents to occur.
  • Claims history - The number of claims you have made in the past in relation to your business. A greater number of claims presents higher risk, and therefore higher premiums.
  • Nominated sum insured - This is the amount your insurer will pay in the event of a claim. Premiums will often scale significantly in relation to the nominated amount insured.
  • Products produced or sold - This factor considers the cost of production for your stock and products, and the level of risk they present for potential consumer accidents or injury.
  • Third party interaction - This refers to the independence of your business operations. If you rely on other businesses, suppliers or manufacturers for revenue and continued operation, your premiums will scale in relation to your dependency on third-party support.
  • Other risk factors - Other risk factors may include the general state and performance of your industry on a national or global level, the growth of similar businesses in your industry, or the stability of the products and services you offer.

It’s possible to secure a discount on your insurance policy, perhaps if you take out multiple policies through the same insurer or have a history of not claiming. You won’t know the true cost of your cover until you begin comparing your options.

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Money Tip: Combining multiple policies with a single insurer may reduce your premiums, however you will only know the true cost of your business cover when reviewing your policy and comparing options.

Where to get business insurance in Australia

Business insurance in Australia is available through authorised insurance companies. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is an independent statutory authority which supervises and approves various financial institutions in offering insurance to individuals and businesses. The APRA provides a list of all authorised insurance companies in Australia.

You can apply for business insurance with any of these approved insurance companies online, and alternatively, you may wish to speak to a licensed insurance broker to find you a suitable policy at the most competitive rate. You can authenticate your insurance broker’s license on the Australian Securities & Investments Commission's professional register.

Australia

How to compare business insurance

You can compare business insurance deals and policies by understanding the type of business you operate and the risks presented by your day-to-day operations. Understanding the amount of cover required by your business will allow you to compare various offers by insurers in Australia.

Once you understand the various types of cover you will need, you can follow four simple steps to find a policy which suits your requirements:

  1. Compare business insurance quotes
  2. Compare business insurers
  3. Review the available policies
  4. Apply with the insurer

Compare business insurance quotes and insurers

When you start comparing quotes and insurers, consider some of the following:

  • Which types of business insurance are compulsory for your business?
  • Which types are optional?
  • What is the excess you will pay on a claim?
  • Is there an annual payout limit or lifetime limits?
  • Are there limits per claim?
  • What specific incidents or events are you covered for?
  • What factors or circumstances may void your policy or ability to make a claim?
  • Is the amount covered enough to sufficiently protect your business in various situations?
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Review any exceptions included in your policy

Once you have found a number of suitable policies, you’ll want to review the premiums for each insurer, and carefully examine the policy to identify any possible exceptions to your coverage. All insurers will place certain conditions on business insurance which can prevent a claim being processed, and understanding these will help eliminate unsuitable options.

Find an insurance broker to help you

An insurance broker specialises in finance and risk management, and uses their expertise to identify the potential risks posed by a business and its operations, then match these with an appropriate insurance policy from a range of insurers.

Brokers will charge a fee for their services, however working with a broker can greatly reduce the time spent comparing insurance options, while ensuring all appropriate cover for a business is included in its selected policy.

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Money Tip: Insurance brokers may offer, negotiate, or sell policies, but primarily act as a guide and supervisor to a business-owner when finding and choosing a suitable business insurance policy.

What is not covered by business insurance?

Knowing what isn’t covered in your business insurance policy is just as crucial as knowing what is covered. Some types of business insurance may be void under certain conditions such as negligence or malicious intent, while others may be ineligible for claims if the cause is a specific event or incident.

You can review your policy with your insurer at any time to see exactly what is and isn’t covered by your insurer, however most policies will not provide cover for losses associated with:

  • Retired or obsolete equipment which is no longer used in business operations.
  • Government-approved confiscation, requisition or destruction of your property
  • An electronic device or software that doesn’t meet compliance
  • Radioactivity
  • War, rebellion or insurrection
  • Unoccupied buildings or premises
  • Aggravated or disciplinary damages and fines
  • Damage to buildings by lightning, earthquakes or impact by road vehicles or falling buildings
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Money Tip: If your claim involves damage to someone else’s property, or injury to someone else, you should first speak to your insurer before admitting responsibility or fault for the incident.
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How to make a claim on business insurance

Your insurance provider will supply a number and instructions about how to make a claim. In most cases, you will need to provide:

  • A copy of your insurance policy and certificate of currency
  • Proof of ownership or legal responsibility of the affected assets claimed
  • Details about the claim and the incident
  • Documentation for any bills or costs incurred as a result of the incident or event

Summary

Business insurance in Australia is a crucial - and often compulsory - part of maintaining consistent business operation. The right type of insurance policy for your business will depend on a number of unique factors, and understanding these will not only help in comparing insurers and policies, but ensuring both your business and your employees are protected in the future.

FAQs

What does business insurance cover?

Business insurance provides financial protection when a business is put at risk. Business insurance may cover the costs of property damage, lawsuits, lost business income, stolen goods, and many other events which can financially affect a business.

How much does business insurance cost?

The cost of business insurance will vary, depending on what you are covered for in your policy, and the nominated sum you have insured. The cost of your premiums will also depend on your specific business, including how and where it operates, and the level of risk it is exposed to.

What insurance do you need for a small business?

Small businesses may benefit from various types of insurance, however it’s always worth checking whether you are required to obtain compulsory insurance, such as workers’ compensation cover, third party personal injury insurance, or public liability insurance.

Does business insurance cover floods and fires?

Most business insurance policies will cover Accidental Damage (general incidents), and Defined Events (specific events). Floods, fires, lightning damage and other forces of nature will be listed in your business insurance policy as defined events. It’s important to check which specific events you are covered for in your policy.

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About the Author

Shaun McGowan from money.com.au

Shaun

McGowan

Shaun McGowan

Shaun is the founder of Money.com.au and is determined to help people pay as little as possible for financial products. Through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.

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