Understanding Insurance in our Industry

Insurance for our industry is a minefield. There are many types to consider including

  • Employer’s Liability

  • Public & Product Liability

  • Material Damage

  • Business Interruption

  • Directors and Officers Liability

  • Professional Indemnity

  • Motor and the list can go on.

Ultimately most of us look at it as a line item on our P&L and question the value you get from this large expense. Insurance value is really only recognised the day we need it. When that day comes it is probably the first time we read our policy in full and start to understand the conditions and requirements of the insurers. If that day comes, we have the below shortlist of recommendations:

  • Get a copy of your policy and read it

  • Get in contact people or companies who you know have gone through similar issues, almost all will be happy to advise you and help you focus on the important areas

  • Contact the IWFM and they will point you to someone industry specific who has gone through similar issues

  • Don’t delay in reporting loss to insurers, Talk to your broker/insurer within 24/48 hours of incident

  • Do your research and appoint an assessor before engaging with insurers and the claim process

If we had one simple piece of advice today for companies is to look at the endorsements and specific conditions of your policy and ensure that you abide by them. Generally, if these conditions are not met, it may result in your policy being cancelled and leave you with no cover, even if they are not relevant to the claim that you may have.

In Ireland at present we have a difficulty around material damage cover, business interruption and employers liability. Most traditional insurance companies have red listed our industry and are not offering any level of cover.

Woodworking is considered as high-risk industry for insurers because the materials we use are flammable, sawdust is generally everywhere, we use hazardous and flammable glues and lacquers & paints, we have heavy electrical machinery. We have large extraction systems, boilers and burners, grinders, heated elements on machines and lots of moving parts with dust. For the above reasons it can be hard to obtain even an offer of cover from insurers and when you do, the premiums and requirements are escalating year on year.

As business owners and managers, we do need to recognise we are in a very risky industry but there are things we can do to reduce these risks. Sprinkler systems, monitored fire and burglar alarms, camera systems, high quality risk assessments and actions, waste management structures/policies and material storage solutions to name just a few. However, do insurers recognise these improvements if they are made? The answer is probably no at this moment, the industry is generally being measured by its lowest standards, with little or no recognition for higher performance organisations. We have potential to change this as a group.

An organisation like the IWFM is the ideal platform to get our industry together and create a standard or quality mark that will allow insurers offer reasonable cost cover to diligent, low risk companies within our sector. The IWFM has the ability to approach the insurance industry and develop a realistic set of requirements for policies that can be put forward to insurers that will recognised in your premiums and reduce the risk to your business. Insurance is a perfect example of where working together as an industry can save us money and through networking and learning from the experience of others.

If you have interest in this area and would like to get involved or contribute, please contact the IWFM info@iwfm.ie and we can develop a discussion on progressing at our upcoming conference

We are asking you to get involved, engage with the IWFM, share your experiences, learn from others and ultimately benefit from better practice and savings.

Eoin Ryan, The Galtee Group, IWFMN Steering Committee member.

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