As the clocks go back and the nights draw in, fear of crime among retailers and their staff heightens. And with Christmas fast approaching, so the value of goods on offer increases, putting even greater strain on stores' susceptibility to crime.
According to Norwich Union, the lead insurer for Convenience Store Insurance, a 25% increase in the amount and value of vulnerable stock in the store at this time of year is typically covered by your standard shop insurance. But high-value items such as alcohol will quickly exceed this, which begs the question: have you checked your policy to ensure that you are still fully covered?
After the clocks go back in the autumn, the number of claims made by retail businesses increases by 25%, according to Norwich Union. A number of crimes also increasingly involve violence, too, which can result in traumatised staff who cannot return to work at this critical time of year.
These are compelling reasons to adequately protect both your staff and your business from the trauma of crime, and the correct insurance and insurer is a vital part of having a robust response. Theft cover, property damage, business interruption and employers liability insurance are all designed to protect your business and your staff.
Nicholas Barrett, marketing manager at Norwich Union, says: "According to the British Retail Consortium, violence against shopkeepers and their employees has increased by 50% over the past year. To help combat violent crime against shopkeepers and their staff, we provide help and advice to our policyholders via the Norwich Union Risk Services website and helpline.
"By following our guidance, retailers and their employees will stand a better chance of avoiding such situations. We provide a counselling service which is available to all of our policyholder's employees if the unfortunate should happen. This counselling service covers the effects of assault at work, which is particularly important to ease the worries of staff and get them back into work. The service is free of charge - all you do is pay for the call."
If you are a victim of crime, you should take the following steps to ensure that you have the best possible chance of quickly returning to business and collecting the correct payment from your insurer. Firstly, report the incident to the police, then notify your insurance company immediately of any loss, damage or injury.
You should also provide written confirmation of loss, damage or injury within seven days. These are conditions of any policy so are vital for the claim to proceed and be settled. If a claim is reported quickly insurers can help to get matters back to normal as quickly as possible.
The first place to look for the best insurance cover is with a broker that can qualify all the measures you have taken to reduce the risk of being a victim of crime, suggest the appropriate types of insurance you should have to protect your staff and business, and adjust your premium accordingly.
While there are direct benefits to using a market leader such as Norwich Union, SME Insurance Service, the independent broker who operates the Convenience Store Insurance scheme, will search the market to ensure that all your needs are properly taken care of.
"It's always a shame when a business is forced into closure or sale following a major loss," says Barrett.
"Recently this became a reality for the Cotters in their St Budeaux store in Plymouth following a robbery where thieves stole £6,000-worth of stock leaving a pregnant employee highly traumatised by the event (C-Store, November 16, p7). While it was ultimately the bank's shortcomings that forced the Cotters into selling their store it does highlight the importance of having the correct insurance cover in place with a reputable company.
"Every year around 20% of businesses face an event that is unplanned, unwanted and sometimes challenges their survival. In fact, 80% of businesses will never fully recover. That threat may come as a result of theft or fraud, fire or flood but whatever the cause, businesses that successfully recover are those that have adequate insurance and recovery plans in place."
You should start by making sure that you have adequate insurance in place for everything - buildings, fixtures and fittings, cash and stock.
Most shop policies have business interruption cover as standard, which ensures that following a major loss, the cash flow or profit in the business is maintained until the business is back up and running again.
The indemnity period is usually 12 months - which should be enough time to get a shop back in business.
There are some simple, inexpensive steps that can be taken to reduce your exposure to crime:
l Building design and layout - consider where the cash register is in relation to the door. Is it covered by CCTV or other security devices? Can you see customers anywhere in the store or are there blank spots you can cover with the use of mirrors or CCTV?
l Staff security and staff awareness - ensure that staff are made aware of simple ways to protect themselves by training them on how to deal with threats and intimidation without putting themselves in harm's way
l Working together - 'ShopWatch' schemes provide an additional level of security.
Why choose Convenience Store Insurance?
Convenience Store's new, bespoke insurance scheme is tailored exclusively to suit you and the needs of your business.
We are confident that we have found the best partners, best advice and
the best products for you and your business, reducing the time and anxiety it costs you to ensure that your livelihood was protected should an incident occur.
Convenience Store Insurance has a dedicated team of insurance professionals who understand your business insurance needs; we pride ourselves on our customer service and can normally provide immediate quotations and instant cover over the telephone.
With Convenience Store Insurance, independent broker SME Insurance Services can provide retailers with impartial advice while discussing your insurance programme and evaluating quotations for your business. They will work with you to understand your business and design the right insurance product for your needs.
Scores of retailers have already saved hundreds of pounds with the Convenience Store Insurance scheme. Nigel Adams from Walcott Post Office Stores in Norfolk is one. He has saved around £600. "The cross over was seamless and easy. I'm really happy with the cover and will be recommending the scheme to a friend," he said.
To find out just how much you could be saving call 0870 161 0864 today or if your policy is not due yet register your details at www.cstore-insurance.co.uk and we will contact you nearer the time.