Getting down to the nitty-gritty: insurance

There’s a pub near to us which suffered a theft last summer. Someone entered through the kitchen (the doors were wide open to let in fresh air on a hot day). They then walked upstairs unnoticed into the office (someone had forgotten to lock the door) and swiped a large sum of money (the safe was unlocked because the manager found using it too cumbersome).

Needless to say that’s one insurance claim which is not going to get very far, but it highlights three things: 1) you need to have security measures in place, 2) you need to follow these security measures and 3) you need proper insurance so that when things go wrong despite all your best efforts, the setback to your business is ameliorated as much as possible.

There are two insurance policies you will need for your micropub: one policy will be for your business operations and the other will be for the building itself.

In our case, the building insurance is organised by the landlord and it’s our responsibility to pay it (currently it’s just around £775/pa). We have a copy of the policy, the premium for which is renewable on an annual basis. It makes sense for the landlord to organise this insurance, especially since he has multiple properties and thereby benefits from a bulk discount.

At the start of our lease we paid two or three months’ worth of building insurance on a pro-rata basis until the previous (and higher) premium expired. The premium was high because the building had previously been home to a fireworks shop; needless to say a micropub meant considerable less risk to the premises!

We waited until we were ready to commence trading before settling on a business insurance policy. This made sense for us because the builders had liability insurance in case anything went wrong with their building work. Also during this time we had very little of value on the premises.

What surprised me was the reluctance for the insurance companies we contacted to work with our business. I initially got in touch with Swinton because they are an insurance broker and our membership in the local business leaders organisation entitled us to a 10% discount. It was impossible to get through to them on the phone (I swear after pressing what I thought were the correct options on the telephone menu that my call was being diverted to a broom cupboard). I left a message on their website asking why their phones were going unanswered and eventually got a call back from a representative who took my details and said she’d get back to me after a week or so of looking into our options. She rang back once in that time saying she was having difficulty finding any quotes for us, then we heard no more.

In the meantime I had opened the business bank account with Santander, where I already do my personal banking. They were quick to put me on to their recommended partners, AXA. Again, following a long telephone conversation and promises that I’d soon be given options to discuss with them, I heard nothing more.

Around the same time I received my copy of Opening Times with an advertisement saying that Towergate provided a discount to CAMRA members, but yet again nobody seemed to be interested given that my emails were ignored (I’d gone off the idea of ringing 0800 or 0845 numbers when I saw my mobile bill). Three times denied!

It must have been around this time that I was browsing the Micropub Association forum and found the name of Neil Kerkhove of Warwick Davis (insurance brokers in Worthing, nowt to do with that chap from Willow). I left my details on their website and received an email from Neil within two days asking for a few more specifics. He came back the next day with a ballpark premium figure of £1100pa. In his words, this was because we were a new start-up and our postcode came up as a high-risk area (a drawback of opening in the suburbs of a big city). He gave us the option to pay in monthly instalments although this would attract an 8% surcharge.

Now that I finally had figures to work with, I decided to see if I could find another quote for the sake of comparison. An internet search brought up the details for Terry Osborne Insurance, specialists in pub & restaurant insurance. They quoted a premium of £786/pa which I agreed to immediately, in part because we were days away from selling bottled beers at the local market. We had the policy documents on an email within hours.

I did consider seeing if Warwick Davis could try to match the quote, but what sealed the deal for me was that the folks at Terry Osborne offered interest-free instalments. I paid £100 to secure the policy and provided them with post-dated cheques allowing me to pay the balance over the following three months. I did later inform Warwick Davis of my decision and when the policy comes up for renewal I will give them another chance, but I was very happy with the service from Terry Osborne and what seems to be a reasonable quote. They also were able to point out which safes would meet the insurer’s requirements.

It’s important when obtaining your insurance quote that you provide as much accurate information as possible. Don’t understate the value of your stock or neglect to mention that you might be doing the occasional market stall.

It also is worth checking with your landlord that the policy meets their requirements or covers you for things left out of the building insurance policy. For instance, your lease might state that it’s your responsibility to replace any broken windows.

The council too might take a view on what levels of insurance is acceptable. Before opening we looked into the mechanics of organising a pavement licence, in the fine print of which I noticed that the council expects us to have £5m worth of public liability coverage. The standard with Terry Osborne was for £2m or so, but it only cost us 1p to increase this.

But like I say, the best insurance will not cover you if it was your negligence that leaves you open to theft, business interruption or the loss of your licence.

Coming soon, more about banking plus equipment for your premises. On that note, anyone in the market for a secondhand Spulboy??

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5 Responses to Getting down to the nitty-gritty: insurance

  1. Sean says:

    HI Robert

    Thanks for the update, some interesting points and food for thought.

    Regarding the Spulboy, what is your opinion as I was looking to get one as an efficient way to clean the glasses and how much was you looking to get for it


    Sean lynch

    • Thanks Sean, the Spulboy coped very well and we were pleased with it. Despite it using cold water and low-suds detergent our glasses were very clean, but we went through a lot of bluroll as they don’t dry on their own as quickly as glasses that have been washed in hot water. On the flip side, it does mean you can immediately serve another pint once it’s dry (glasses from our new glasswasher take a good half hour to cool down). It’s time-consuming to use which is ok I when you’ve got say 20-30 people in at a time but we were finding on busy nights it was almost a full-time job for one person to keep enough glasses in circulation.

      I’ll send you an email direct to see if you’re interested in buying ours, cheers.

  2. Susie says:

    Very helpful blog, thank you. I’m in the process of all this at the moment. Waiting for Neil to get back to me with a quote, but I’ll get one from Terry Osborne as well. And if Sean can’t take the Spulboy, we’re in the market for one too.

  3. Abi says:

    This is so informative – thanks!

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