PolicyBee news and risk advice https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog Articles and posts on professional indemnity insurance, small business news and risk management Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:12:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Freelance Way: Your top 5 tips for a perfectly balanced summer https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9394/freelance-way-tips-perfectly-balanced-summer https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9394/freelance-way-tips-perfectly-balanced-summer#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 15:21:31 +0000 http://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/?p=9394  

#TheFreelanceway blog image

Freelance Forever  

Yesterday was the first day of our #TheFreelanceWay Twitter competition, and you certainly kept us busy. We had loads of tweets from fellow freelancers advising how to create the perfect work/life when you’re on holiday.

The winner … Read more....

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#TheFreelanceway blog image

Freelance Forever  

Yesterday was the first day of our #TheFreelanceWay Twitter competition, and you certainly kept us busy. We had loads of tweets from fellow freelancers advising how to create the perfect work/life when you’re on holiday.

The winner of the £5 Costa Coffee voucher is Dawn from New Dawn PA Services. Here’s her top tip for keeping things balanced when you’re out of the office: Twitter Screenshot

We had so many great suggestions though, that we thought we’d compile a few of the best here.

Being a freelancer can sometimes be a lonely experience, but it’s nice to know that there are loads of other people out there in the same situation. Keep reading for our five top tips for balancing your business with the brief British summer…

1. It’s OK to check your emails while you’re on holiday…

Out of all the freelancers who tweeted us with their tips yesterday, not one said they completely shut themselves off from work when they were on holiday. When you’re running your own business, it’s much more difficult to separate your personal life from your career.

As one of our freelance tweeters explained, checking your emails provides that little bit of reassurance that everything’s ticking over smoothly. It’s much nicer than ruining your holiday by worrying that there’ll be a nasty surprise waiting for you when you get home.

2. …But you should limit the amount of time you spend on work. 

Although our freelancers agreed it’s pretty much impossible to completely shut yourself off from work, you shouldn’t let your business take over your holiday. Otherwise, what’s the point in taking time off?

Pretty much everyone who tweeted felt you should limit your email checking to an hour a day, or once in the morning, once in the evening. One clever tweeter also recommended turning your email notifications off on your phone, so they won’t distract you when you’re out for the day.

Tweet screenshot

3. Fit your work around your family and other commitments. 

That’s right, not the other way around.

Steal an hour after your kids have gone to bed, or before they get up in the morning. Or, make like another tweeter and combine your evening email check with happy hour.

Twitter Screenshot

4. Be flexible with your holiday plans. 

Two weeks away on your own tropical paradise might be the dream, but for most freelancers, it’s just not practical.

Even if you’re going for a walking holiday in the middle of nowhere, arrange accommodation or locate a local coffee shop with WiFi. One tweeter arranges short breaks and allows time in the morning for working while saving the afternoon for fun activities. Another works a three-day week over the summer to try and keep the disruption to their clients as low as possible.

5.  Have an emergency backup plan. 

In an ideal world, you may just want to touch base with your clients over the holidays to make sure things are running smoothly. Sometimes though, that’s just not always possible. If something goes very badly wrong for your client and they need your help, ignoring them probably won’t do much for your professional relationship.

This isn’t a possibility for everyone, but if you have a team who can offer support when you’re away, it’d be silly not to use them. Several tweeters recommended leaving clear instructions for your second in command while you’re away.

Another recommended giving your mobile number to clients, and have them text rather than email if it’s something serious. It’s likely your clients won’t need it, but they’ll appreciate that you’ve thought of them.

#TheFreelanceWay 

If you were struggling to strike the perfect balance between running a business and taking time off this summer, hopefully one of our helpful tweeters will have given you some inspiration on how to manage.

However, if you’re still bugged by a different small business problem, panic not. Every Wednesday this month, we’ll be posing a different business problem to our 1,000+ followers each month. So, if you’re at a loose end, give us a tweet and we’ll see what we can do.

We’ll be tweeting a new question on Wednesday morning, so keep your eyes peeled. For more information, email zoe.darrah@policybee.co.uk.

 

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How to choose your level of cover https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9346/choose-level-cover https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9346/choose-level-cover#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 09:30:55 +0000 http://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/?p=9346 Dice - When Your Luck Has Run Out Simon and His Camera

Bite the bullet

So you’ve decided to buy some professional indemnity insurance. Good on you.

One of the first questions you’ll be asked by us – or whoever you go to – is “what level of cover do you want?”… Read more....

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Dice - When Your Luck Has Run Out Simon and His Camera

Bite the bullet

So you’ve decided to buy some professional indemnity insurance. Good on you.

One of the first questions you’ll be asked by us – or whoever you go to – is “what level of cover do you want?”

It’s unlikely you’ve given it much thought. And even if you have, you probably don’t really know where to start. What’s enough? What’s too much?

And that’s when the problems start. Because the words ‘level of cover’ might not mean much to you but they’re actually really important. You have to get it right.

Mixed messages

What insurers and brokers are really asking is this:

“If the worst happened, what figure would you want us – your insurer – to pay out?”

(That figure is the maximum they’ll pay per claim or per policy year, depending on the type of policy you have. The proper insurance terms for these are, respectively, ‘any one claim’ and ‘in the aggregate’. Read more about them here.)

To get to that figure, you need to do some thinking.

So put on your pessimistic hat for a few minutes and consider worst-case scenario.

Assume your professional services cause a client a financial loss. They’d want you to make good their loss. So how big a loss could you cause? Twice the value of what you charged them to do the job in the first place? Ten times the value? More?

If you think it’s ten times the value, multiply your largest contract value by ten.

Write down that figure – no matter how scary it looks. And now take off the hat.

Job done

OK, good work. The figure you have in front of you is what the world of insurance calls your ‘maximum probable loss’.

It’s wise to choose a level of cover larger than that figure.

How much larger is up to you. But we recommend you get as much cover as you can reasonably afford. Because if the worst does actually happen, you’ll want to know your business is protected.

And yes, we know insurance might seem like just another unnecessary expense in an already expensive world. But you don’t want to gamble with the wonderful Mr Hindsight. The smug sod always wins.

 

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The Freelance Way: share your tips and win free coffee https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9367/coffee-competition https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9367/coffee-competition#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 08:58:36 +0000 http://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/?p=9367 cup of coffe

#TheFreelanceWay

We’re running a Twitter competition every Wednesday this month.

But it’s not like other competitions. You won’t win by thrashing your rivals and looking out for number one. If you want to get your hands on our fabulous prize, … Read more....

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cup of coffe

#TheFreelanceWay

We’re running a Twitter competition every Wednesday this month.

But it’s not like other competitions. You won’t win by thrashing your rivals and looking out for number one. If you want to get your hands on our fabulous prize, you have to play nicely.

Being a freelancer is tough, so it’s about time we started looking out for each other. That’s why we’re running this little competition, to encourage freelancers to share your top business tips.

Take one for the team

This week, we want to know: ‘How do you strike the perfect work/life balance when you’re on holiday?’ 

Do you still check your emails? Do you completely shut up shop? Or do you take lots of mini-breaks instead of a longer holiday? Whatever’s right for your small business, we’d love to hear about it. Chances are, it could be the perfect solution someone else has been looking for.

Everyone who gets involved is in with a chance of winning a £5 Costa Coffee voucher. Perfect for emergency pick-me-ups.

The rules 

To enter, all you have to do is tweet your tips for a summer work/life balance, using the hashtag #TheFreelanceWay. 

The competition is open from 2:00-4:00 pm today. After 4:00 pm, we’ll randomly select one lucky winner. If you win, we’ll drop you a tweet to let you know.

To stay in the loop with each week’s question, follow us on Twitter @PolicyBee

Don’t feel too disheartened if you don’t win this week; we’ll be asking a different question every Wednesday throughout August. However, what we’ll be asking each week is kind of up to you. Are there any burning questions you’re dying to pick the brains of other freelancers about? If so, here’s your big chance.

Drop us a tweet with your suggestions on what we should ask our followers; it’s the cheapest business consultancy ever.

So, thinking caps on and happy tweeting… 

For more information on #TheFreelanceWay, email zoe.darrah@policybee.co.uk.

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Ingenious Britain Live! We’re there, are you? https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9293/ib-live-winning-weds https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9293/ib-live-winning-weds#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:00:38 +0000 http://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/?p=9293 Ingenious Britain Live!

UPDATE: We’ve just heard from Ingenious Britain that their IB Live! event has been postponed, probably until next year, due to ‘circumstances out of their control’. We’re sorry, but that’s all the information we have at the moment. When we Read more....

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Ingenious Britain Live!

UPDATE: We’ve just heard from Ingenious Britain that their IB Live! event has been postponed, probably until next year, due to ‘circumstances out of their control’. We’re sorry, but that’s all the information we have at the moment. When we find out any more, we’ll let you know. 

Sorry for any disappointment. 

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Live and kicking 

If you follow business guru Ingenious Britain, you’ll already know we’re speaking at the fabulous Ingenious Britain Live! event.

It’s on 4th and 5th September, at Millennium Point, Birmingham.

Described as ‘the Glastonbury for small businesses’, Ingenious Britain Live! is one of the UK’s largest SME events.

If you’d like to join us at the event and learn new and exciting ways to grow your business, tickets are still available. Go here to get yourself a place at this special business event and learn a whole load of tricks to improve the way you do business.

In the spirit of Ingenious Britain Live!, we’ve compiled our top three resources and articles to  help champion your company.

Whether you want win business awards, beat your competitors, or humbly boast about your great service, we’ve found someone who can help.

How to win business awards

Winning an award for your business is a pretty big deal. Not only is it a nice little ego boost, it’s also a great marketing opportunity. It shows everyone you’re top of your league and you mean business.

Some clever entrepreneurs have even used this desire to win as a business opportunity; if you’re really serious about winning a business award, you can actually enlist the help of a specialist award consultant.

If you want to employ a more DIY approach, try Smarta’s guide on how to win awards. We agree whole-heartedly with their key point: is entering a business competition worth your effort? If you have to revamp your whole business model just to be in with a shot, clearly, it’s not.

Choose competitions that suit your natural business personality. If you have to force it, what’s the point?

There are hundreds of different business awards out there, so to get started, you might want to read what we say about competitions and awards for small businesses.

Gold and silver trophies

How to beat your business competitors 

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of competition. It’s healthy, and it keeps things interesting.

If your competitors are large businesses, it’s time to crack out your secret weapon: being small. You probably know all your customers by first name and understand exactly why they need you. Can a large multinational offer that to their clients? Probably not.

Even in a crowded market, finding your niche allows you to get noticed. Whether you’re number one for price, quality, speed, or service, decide what your priority is and then shout about it. Mashable have some great tips to help your business stand out from your competitors.

How to make the most of customer testimonials

Never underestimate the power of customer reviews. When you and your competitors are equal on price, a glowing review from a satisfied customer can be enough to convince others to follow suit.

We use Feefo to collect reviews from our customers. As well as collecting star ratings, customers can also leave written feedback about how we did.

The nice thing about Feefo is that it’s an independent third party; everyone can see your reviews are genuine and impartial. It also has a trusted reputation, as many well-known businesses use it to collect customer feedback.

Feefo also award different statuses to users depending on the quality of the feedback they receive. For example, earlier this year we were awarded ‘gold trusted merchant’ status for our 99% positive customer feedback.  It’s really easy to set up a Feefo account and we’d definitely recommend it.

Winner winner chicken dinner 

Of course, these aren’t the only ways to give your small business a boost.

For even more tips and tricks, pick up your tickets for Ingenious Britain Live!

There’ll be loads of interesting entrepreneurs speaking, including Jo Fairley of Green & Blacks chocolate, Caprice Bourret (By Caprice Lingerie Ltd), Sara Murray (Confused.com), Will King (King of Shaves), and Graham Corfield (Just Eat).

Whether you’re looking for a solution to a business problem, or you’re just open to inspiration, we’re sure you’ll discover something wonderful.

You’ll never know if you don’t go …

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How to get your property claim paid in full https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9222/property-insurance-average https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9222/property-insurance-average#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 09:00:55 +0000 http://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/?p=9222 spare change on wood desk

Falling short 

We recently talked about a client who underinsured his photography equipment. And then had a claim.

Although he had around £30,000 worth of portable equipment (cameras, lenses, tripods etc) in total, he only took £5,000 worth of it … Read more....

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spare change on wood desk

Falling short 

We recently talked about a client who underinsured his photography equipment. And then had a claim.

Although he had around £30,000 worth of portable equipment (cameras, lenses, tripods etc) in total, he only took £5,000 worth of it out at any one time. So he made that his level of cover.

When he tried to claim for £5,000 worth of stolen equipment, he had a bit of a problem. Due to a thing called the ‘average rule’, our client’s insurer refused to pay out the full value of his claim because, in their eyes, he was underinsured.

Our client didn’t know he was doing anything wrong. Since the maximum he’d ever need to claim for was £5,000, he didn’t see why he should pay extra for more cover. Unsurprisingly, he felt the whole thing was a little unfair considering he wasn’t deliberately flouting the rules.

Read more about his claim here.

What’s the ‘average rule’? 

‘Average rule’ is the calculation an insurer uses to pay a claim where the level of cover is less than the value of property insured. 

It’s actually a pretty simple equation, and it looks like this:

Payout = Claim \times \frac {Sum\ Insured} {Current\ Value} \!

This means, if you’ve only insured a proportion of what you own, your insurer will pay claims by the same proportion. To put it another way, your insurer reduces claims payments by the amount you’re underinsured.

Depending on how much extra kit you haven’t insured, that could have quite a big impact on your business.

Give us an example 

Let’s say you have £15,000 worth of equipment cover. When you took out the policy, this was more than enough. You’ve since bought some more stuff, but haven’t increased your level of insurance. Now, the cost of all your kit is closer to £20,000.

After a break in at your office, you try to claim for the full £15,000. However, after a quick inventory check, your insurer realises you’re underinsured by £5,000; that’s 25% of the actual sum you should be insured for.

Since you’ve only covered 75% of your property, your insurer will only pay 75% of the amount you want to claim for. In this situation, that’s just £11,250.

Even if your claim isn’t as much as your level of cover, your insurer will still reduce the claim payment by the amount you’re underinsured.

Why do insurers do this? 

Insurers want to know about everything they might be covering. That includes things you don’t think you’d replace if something happened to them.

The main reason insurers apply the ‘average rule’ is to deter people from deliberately underinsuring in an attempt to save money. If all their customers did this, insurance companies would struggle to cover all clients’ claims.

As far as they’re concerned, they’re being asked to take on the risk of covering everything, without getting the necessary premium. That’s the kind of maths insurers don’t like .

What should I do? 

The one infallible rule is always be honest. Tot up everything you own and declare its total value to your insurer. Keep a record or inventory of everything; updating it as and when you add equipment (and not forgetting to tell your insurer, of course).

Have a look at your policy wording too because insurers’ rules differ.

For example, one insurer we work with has this in their wording:

If, at the time of damage, the amount insured is less than 85% of the total value of the contents, the amount we pay will be reduced in the same proportion as the underinsurance.”

This allows some room for those who’ve underinsured accidently.

If you have any doubts, it’s always best to contact your broker. They’ll you exactly what your policy says about underinsurance. Depending on your policy, increasing your level of cover may also raise your premium.

In any case, that’s better than plan B: your insurer refusing to pay the full amount of your claim.

Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions about underinsurance, or indeed the ‘average rule’.

 

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Are you a travel agent or a tour operator? https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9179/travel-agent-tour-operator https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/9179/travel-agent-tour-operator#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 09:00:54 +0000 http://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/?p=9179 rubber duck in pool

Holiday hell 

For travel agents and tour operators, summer is about anything but relaxing in the sun.

If you’re good at what you do, business should be booming.

Contrary to popular belief, ‘travel agent’ and ‘tour operator’ aren’t just interchangeable … Read more....

The post Are you a travel agent or a tour operator? appeared first on PolicyBee news and risk advice.

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rubber duck in pool

Holiday hell 

For travel agents and tour operators, summer is about anything but relaxing in the sun.

If you’re good at what you do, business should be booming.

Contrary to popular belief, ‘travel agent’ and ‘tour operator’ aren’t just interchangeable terms for someone who sells holidays.

Most standard professional indemnity policies (ours included) will cover travel agents, but specifically exclude tour operators. Tour operators usually have to go to a specialist broker or insurer to get cover.

There’s a lot of crossover between the services tour operators and travel agents offer. Truthfully, we’ve had several customers who are unsure which they are.

Insurers and brokers have specific definitions for travel agents and tour operators. You might call yourself a travel agent, but if your business activities match their definition of a tour operator, that’s what your broker will notice.

It matters because, either way, your cover has to be right

What’s a tour operator? 

Confusingly, this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with ‘tours’. A tour operator is someone who organises and sells package holidays.

A package holiday is simply two or more of the following components sold at an inclusive price: transport, accommodation, other tourist service (such as day trips, etc).

A tour operator is responsible for arranging all the different parts of the package holiday, including making the bookings.

As well as covering the costs of these individual components, a tour operator’s fees will also include an admin fee for themselves.

plane flying low over beach

What’s a travel agent? 

As well as selling the individual components of a holiday (flights, hotels, hire cars, etc), a travel agent can also sell package holidays.

However, a travel agent doesn’t organise the packages and isn’t responsible for making bookings. They’re a middleman between the customer and the tour operator; it’s a bit like how an insurance broker sits between the insurer and the customer.

Of course, a customer can buy several of the individual parts of their holiday from a travel agent and pay for them all in one go. This is isn’t a ‘package’ though, because the agent divides the fee to pay for the separate parts of the holiday.

Unlike a tour operator, the cost of a travel agent doesn’t include an admin fee. Instead, travel agents receive commission from the hotels and airlines they refer customers to.

Why does it matter? 

Since tour operators have a lot more responsibility, it’s a much riskier profession. There could be a problem with the flight, the accommodation, or the activities. Just one would be enough to ruin someone’s holiday, but what if all three fell through?

Even if a travel agent sells package holidays, the tour operator would be liable if something went wrong. Simply put, travel agents are less likely to face a claim.

Anything else? 

Knowing which category you fall into is important for making sure you get the right insurance cover.

If you’re a tour operator looking for professional indemnity, we recommend the British Insurance Brokers’ Association. They have access to hundreds of brokers, so they should be able to help you find what you need. Call them on 0870 950 1790, or visit their website.

For more information about the difference between travel agents and tour operators, contact the Association of British Travel Agents.

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