Contracts, Consultants and indemnity‏

Posted by 11 January, 2016 (0) Comment

Jason really was amazing, he managed to find insurance cover for me as a consultant valuation surveyor when no one else could. He  kept me informed of progress continually. I  would thoroughly  recommend him.”

                                –  Robin Smith, FRICS

Getting your contracts in order

 

Robin called me saying “I need urgent assistance”. I’ve won a contract yet they’re asking me for insurance and nobody can provide me with what’s needed. This is something we deal with every week because a lot of insurance providers have placed their products on the Internet and don’t have the facilities to give advice as to what fits.

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The contract wasn’t complicated or onerous yet it was specific. The type of work to be carried out was slightly unusual yet the problem wasn’t the work it was the availability of cover. Robin also had a deadline to meet and so the frustration in finding red herrings all over the Internet was understandable. There were many providers that said they could offer the cover Robin needed but as soon as he scratched the surface they turned and ran in the opposite direction.

 

Insurance and contracts are usually at odds

 

Another challenge for Robin was that the contracts told him the terms and conditions of undertaking the project yet the insurance available has to be compare to the contract to ensure they dovetail. There are clauses in contracts that relate to insurance and there are clauses in insurance policies that relate to contracts.

Most insurances available via the Internet are no good when compared to contracts. The fact that so many insurance providers allow people to buy insurance without speaking to anyone is brilliant. Especially when you need something in a hurry. It’s not so brilliant when you need to speak to somebody and find that the Internet and, in particular the website that you found it on, doesn’t take your calls.

 

Whatever next?

 

Sometimes those awarding the contract start reading the insurance themselves and asking questions. Being cynical, they often ask these questions when they are due to pay an invoice. I’m not saying that they use this as a tactic to delay payment yet, if the insurance doesn’t meet the requirements, they will delay payment.

This happens most often when small businesses are working with a large company with an in-house legal team. They accept the insurance documents and only start checking the details when they are due to pay. This is so common we make sure that the insurance stacks up before it’s issued rather than suffer the pain of the late payment at a later date.


Wrap up
; Temptation to accept a contract with a large company is great. The offer may seem fantastic yet their requirements can offer the water down the profitability.

Top tip; Make sure you check the cost of the insurance before you negotiate your fees or payment terms. You might need insurance for a contract yet you don’t want to end up with zero profit.

Categories : All Risks Insurance,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Contractors Insurance,Design Insurance,Intellectual Property Insurance,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Patent Insurance,Trade,Trademark Insurance,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , ,

Say it but don’t blame me

Posted by 2 May, 2015 (0) Comment

Sometimes it’s best to help your prospects understand what you offer that your competitors don’t rather than trying to highlight the inadequacies of your competitors. This is specially the case when the comments you make are in public especially when your competitors get angered easily and or have very deep pockets or in-house legal teams. This article explains what happens when someone is unhappy  with what you say about them, how to avoid it and what you can do about it.

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I have a client who has produced software that is absolute outstanding and reduces the amount of time you and I spend waiting for organizations to answer our calls. It also reduces the number of staff call center require and I think it’s a product that provides everyone with a benefit. They have nearly 1 million subscribers to their app so they must be doing something right.

There was a time, before they appeared on “Dragons Den”, that they were looking to generate a buzz about their business. They talked to a marketing consultant and eventually persuaded to use a marketing expert who’s specialized in generating PR for technology based businesses. It all sounds great, everything heading in the right direction.

 

We didn’t say that did we?

 

The marketing expert had decided to seed the press and other relevant forums with explanations about the different waiting times that people experience when calling well known companies. In theory these companies were not competitors to our clients. They were irked even angered, to find them self at the top of a table highlighting which companies leaves callers on hold for the longest time. The angriest was a particularly large company in the health industry and they decided to issue a letter asking our client to explain exactly where they got their information from and asking them to remove any reference to that company from the public domain. This was an understandable reaction to an article that was supposed to improve the profile of this client yet it just sort to anger a party they didn’t needed to anger and caused many other problems internally. The initial panic should never be underestimated when you get a letter from a in-house lawyer because they have so much time on their hands to deal with such issues.

naturally my first question to my client was had they actually made the points that the in-house lawyer objected to. Their answer was it wasn’t us. Yet when I used Google I found the article was credited to them. At which point they said it was an outsourced marketing expert who had put these articles together. I asked if the marketing expert had provided evidence of their insurance. Blank looks all round. I asked if the marketing expert’s research had been checked by my client. More blank looks. I asked if the marketing expert had used an specialist to research the details they were using. The blank looks continued.

 

Shall we tell them it wasn’t us.

 

This was the comment my client made next and I asked them if they thought that would send the complainant off towards the marketing company and they realized that was probably never going to happen. If that were the case, everyone would simply say someone else did it in our name and no one would ever seize or desist when the lining someone. Fortunately they didn’t need to have this conversation because we had already provided them with a legal defense if allegation of liable defamation or breach of confidentiality were leveled at them yet they still had learned a valuable lesson about suppliers. These days very few businesses are self contained. Nearly every company I know relies on a employee or another organization to help them deliver their product or services. However not all such businesses are as careful as they should be and you can either be guilty by association or considered guilty because something is done under your umbrella.

Top Tip:
Check your suppliers carefully if they have insurance and it is fit for purpose you can give them a free rain, which makes your life easier.

Wrap up:
If they don’t have insurance you shouldn’t be dealing with them. Because at best, your insurance premiums will creep up as your suppliers make mistakes. That’s like buying car insurance and allowing the worst driver you know and drive even though they are already banned.

 

 

Categories : Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Liability Insurance Tags : , , , , ,

Efficient insurance isn’t always friendly

Posted by 23 June, 2014 (0) Comment

This article is about how improvements in technology should help providers improve the service to their clientèle. Read on to find out how IT has made life easier, where it has failed, and the backlash that is “in the post”.

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Treating customers fairly?

 

Recently I have been learning how to use a new IT system which will increase our efficiency and profit. The people showing us how to use the system are terribly nice and say some nice things, yet also some very surprising things. One that really did surprise me relates to the way the system allows us to meet all the compliance regulations that are bestowed upon us, by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) I was pleased to find that the system made our life easier when ticking the compliance boxes.

It was during a discussion about “treating customers fairly” (TCF) that I was so surprised. TCF involves doing what it says on the tin – making sure that the customer is at the centre of what you do. This ensures that they are well treated and their aims are met whilst your business meets its aims too. For me, this is the most valuable thing you can do in a business, because customers are always right and when they are wrong, its usually because they have not been well informed. This is a statement that most business owners don’t want to hear, yet when they are the customer they realise that it’s actually true.

What’s the surprise?

 

The comment that surprised me so much was after I complimented the trainers on showing us how to add efficiency into our compliant processes. Our training lady announced that no one usually cares about this, to which I exclaimed “pardon!” because I couldn’t believe that a sector so beaten and bowed by criticism still fails to take its customers’ rights seriously. I enquired what the lady meant by “no one usually cares” and she reiterated that all the other people she trains (all is probably an overstatement) find ways to avoid ticking the compliance box of TCF. I am not surprised that this happens, but I am surprised that it is an industry wide problem. However, it does explain one scenario that has puzzled me somewhat.

Why is it important?

 

When I first went “alone” I carried out research and found that a healthy percentage of people that had purchased insurance were not sure that it was right for them. This meant there were people who would find our service useful. This gave us immense confidence as we ploughed our furrow and provided a service that isn’t available to all. It still isn’t available to all, because we could not possible service the entire commercial insurance buying public, not by ourselves. But watch this space. We have no immediate plans to dominate the UK, yet what I have discovered over the last few years has shown us that the vast majority of people who buy insurance are not treated fairly. There is work for us to do in changing that. It is a challenge, but one I am ready for.

Wrap Up: Not all insurance policies are the same. Not insurance companies are the same. Not all businesses are the same. So ensure you get what you need, before you need it.

Top Tip: If ever you do have a problem with insurance ask your supplier how they are treating you fairly, whilst dealing with the problem.

 

Categories : Accountants Insurance,After The Event,All Risks Insurance,Building Contractor,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Contractors Insurance,Customer Service,Design Insurance,Domian name protection,General Requirements,Health & Safety,Intellectual Property Insurance,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Litigation expenses insurance,Patent Insurance,Personal Insurance,Solicitors indemnity,Solicitors insurance,Trade,Trade Secret Protection,Trademark Insurance,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , , , , ,

Travel for business is rarely pleasurable

Posted by 20 December, 2013 (0) Comment

Recently a intern from the United States got appendicitis while he was seconded to us. This article highlights the inconvenience this causes to an individual, the business, and everyone.

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Knowledge is not power every time

 

Stephen had majored in bio mechanics. It didn’t stop him coming a cropper when his body decided to give out whilst in the UK. He had never had issues with his stomach before, and who knows what actually caused his appendix to grumble. No one was more shocked than he, when he was told he needed a surgical intervention. To say I was shocked was an understatement. The people who look after him called me to say that he had been hospitalised and that he wouldn’t be able to work for 48 hours.

Little did we know, this was just the start of his problems. The first thing to consider when an employee falls ill is their welfare. Fortunately, we have the NHS, and I knew Stephen would be well looked after. However, after he had been stabilised the boredom set in, and his real nightmare began.

Completing projects benefits everyone

 

Stephen wasn’t exactly overjoyed when his mother arrived. Who can blame her, she was really worried about her still teenage son. However, Stephen was more concerned about his father and brothers, who would, at first, starve for a few days. His other concern was that they would give him a lot of grief for removing their carer for a few days. When it became evident that doctors were too quick to discharge Stephen, he headed back to A&E with an issue that could not have been related to his missing appendix. The doctors were more concerned this time, as surely, they hadn’t removed his appendix for nothing.

It was at this time that Stephen became extremely apologetic and was more than a bit miffed. He had intended to show that he was not a one trick pony, by completing a project that we had agreed upon before he arrived in the UK. It was evident that he would be able to start the project, but certainly not complete it. So after the welfare of a sick employee is resolved, there is still the lost time and productivity to think about.

Why do clients trust us with their travelers?

 

Usually I’m dealing with clients whose staff have been taken out of action whilst they are abroad. The things that have happened recently include someone in the USA cutting their hand on a tin of beans (I kid you not!) and had been relieved of $4,000 by US hospitals. More pressing was the cost of the employee who had to be sent to replace them. The presentation they could not complete still had to be delivered on time. Don’t even get me started on the issues that clients had with a volcanic ash a few years ago. That was the week when everyone who thought that it would never happen to them, realised that it had. The one issue a client raised with me that I thought would never happen, is probably the most tragic I have ever been involved with.

Luckily, I did not have to deal with the issue on the day it arose. Before I ran my own business I worked for brokers who spent a lot of time working with charities. Imagine my horror to hear on the news one day that a young person had been attacked by a polar bear whilst on a field trip in an inhospitable region. Your thoughts turn to the family of the injured at times like that.

There was a fatality in this case, yet I was also certain that the emergency assistance that I had arranged for this particular charity had the resources, including helicopters, to make sure that everyone on the ground was helped as soon as possible, and that the students were spirited away from the area as soon as was practical. I also know that a counselling service was available for those traumatised by the issue. It’s not often someone in my industry can take pride when something goes wrong. You really, sincerely, hope it never does. Yet knowing what you have done professionally has helped people personally is what we strive for.

Wrap Up: Some of my clients go as far as covering the holiday travel arrangements of their staff, as they don’t want them to be left stranded in a foreign clime because their personal travel arrangements fell apart. If you run a tight ship then all of your staff are absolutely necessary, you don’t want to be without them for a few days just because a travel insurance company decides to wriggle out of their promise to get all travellers home when they need to be back.

Top Tip: Planning for the worst might seem pessimistic, but it pays to be prepared. Make sure you are covered for every eventuality – if you can imagine it it can happen.

Categories : Accountants Insurance,After The Event,All Risks Insurance,Building Contractor,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Contractors Insurance,Customer Service,Design Insurance,Domian name protection,General Requirements,Health & Safety,Intellectual Property Insurance,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Litigation expenses insurance,Patent Insurance,Personal Insurance,Solicitors indemnity,Solicitors insurance,Trade,Trade Secret Protection,Trademark Insurance,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

Insurance claims departments grill their clients

Posted by 13 December, 2013 (0) Comment

Not all insurance companies treat claimants the same. This article is about what happens when an insurance company settles a claim for a break-in, the methods they use to reduce claims, and the daft things they do afterwards.

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“Someone’s breaking in across the road”

 

A man is up later than he should be. He hears a loud bang, and peers out his front room window. He sees that there are some shadowy figures and torchlight inside the office premises across the road.  Stopping himself from rushing across the road, he calls the police instead. He took the sensible option. By the time he finishes the call to the police the burglers are gone. It’s a classic commercial theft. Kick the doors in and take whatever isn’t nailed down and can be sold for cash.

The police contact the owners and the premises are secured, which is difficult to do when a UPVC door has been ripped from it’s hinges! Yet it’s a temporary measure, a more permanent fix can be worked out later. Computers, monitors and petty cash have been taken.

Insurers step up… then down again

 

The client contacts us in the morning and we make the report to their insurer, who won’t do anything until the crime reference number is allocated by the police. Armed with this, we make a detailed report explaining what items have been stolen and what damage has been caused. The people handling the claim seem amiable. A few hours later we receive the email acknowledgement, yet they start as they mean to go on requesting why my client kept so much petty cash. The irony.

It’s this sort of nit picking that really annoys people. They didn’t ask how much petty cash they had before the break in. Indeed, they even make a generous allowance for it as a policy benefit. Yet they use it as a tactic to delay making a payment. It wasn’t the only tactic, they argued about the broken door too.

Settlement achieved

 

It took a few days to resolve, yet the experience left a sour taste with the client.  “How will they behave if we have a major loss?” I reassured them that this company was better in the big losses, which is why we had chosen them. It’s just that you need to have experience in order to push the small ones through, because this company uses smaller claims to train their staff. They don’t tell you that in their literature before you buy from them – we have the inside track.

Once the client has his full payment he asks me to look for alternative insurance providers, which is understandable! Who wants to be contractually tied to someone that makes it difficult together what the contract is supposed to provide? Especially when it’s before a problem with the terms and conditions. A “can-do” attitude means a lot to those who want their businesses to run smoothly. They avoid suppliers that make their life difficult after advertising that they would make it easy. Insurers could take note, but they won’t. This insurer said they would be happy to lose this client because it was “petty cash” that made them attractive to thieves. Poppycock.

Wrap Up: There are hundreds of reasons why insurers are slow to pay out, some are procedural, others personality based. As Forrest Gump said, claims departments are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get……unless you have opened them before.

Top Tip: Make sure your adviser has handled similar outcomes to those that you’re worried about if you really want the reassurance that insurance allied to service can provide.

 

 

Categories : Accountants Insurance,After The Event,All Risks Insurance,Building Contractor,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Contractors Insurance,Customer Service,Design Insurance,Domian name protection,General Requirements,Health & Safety,Intellectual Property Insurance,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Litigation expenses insurance,Patent Insurance,Personal Insurance,Solicitors indemnity,Solicitors insurance,Trade,Trade Secret Protection,Trademark Insurance,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

I know who did it

Posted by 24 August, 2013 (0) Comment

This article is about why people insure their equipment, what happens when it’s stolen, and how do you prevent it. This is a salutatory tale about people who rely on their equipment to do business and find that others have their eyes on it for other purposes.

 

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Business equipment is an asset to be leveraged

 

A client calls and explains how he’s been relieved of thousands of pounds of computer equipment and the office is in some disarray. He goes on to explain that the goods he was working on for his client have also taken a walk, and he needs to make a claim for replacing all said items. It’s not usual for IT companies to have clients’ equipment with them. So we discussed the items that had gone missing and forwarded the list of assets to be replaced to the insurance company. Insurance companies are always keen to keep the size of any settlement they make down and ask for receipts, so we had those ready.

Photographs of items suffice, where receipts had been mislaid or are with the accountant . It’s amazing how shots of general office shenanigans can prove useful when trying to prove that you did actually own a fantastically powerful computer. Digital inventories are really useful… if you have saved the digital record off site.

He did it

 

“I actually I know the b@$tard who did it” exclaimed my client, when i asked how they gained entry. He was adamant he knew the identity of the perpetrator. he was certain the CCTV would identify them. This is when CCTV becomes useful, it identifies people who do not wear baseball caps or other people who do not wear “identity avoidance devices”. But it is only a deterrent. CCTV has never prevented anyone from entering a premises. It has served to make criminals more “scientific” when trying to hide their identity. The only way to keep them out is to use physical devices.

Fortunately the client and I had discussed what was required a long time ago, so we already knew that the insurance company would be satisfied that the security was adequate. There is nothing that will stop a determined thief, so the insurers pay out on these occasions. It is the opportunist thief that causes problems for most people in serviced offices because they assume that a) the serviced office covers their equipment (because they should?) b) have great security people who man the desks 24/7 (they never go to the toilet?) or c) are responsible for anything stolen from the premises (they are not!).

They’re back

Older readers will remember that there was a sequel to Gremlins back in the 1990s. The Gremlins that were back in this case were actually the thieves. Yes, they came back and stole all of the new equipment just after it had been replaced. This is not unusual at all, it happens so often that it is laughable. Do the IT companies tip them off when they receive a new order? Do staff in insurance claims departments let thieves know where the new items are being delivered? Do delivery companies have miscreants within their companies that tip off undesirables? You and I will never know the truth. But somehow, people know when new equipment is delivered. I don’t think it is right to be naive and assume that this only happens because an opportunist thief happens to be walking past a office that new equipment is being delivered to. There are a number of ways around it, yet too many to mention here.

This sort of thing leaves a bad taste in the mouth. This is particularly poisonous when the police fail to remove the evidence from a CCTV system before it is deleted. No amount of encouragement will ensure that the police arrive at a non-emergency. They simply do not care anymore, they have been trained to meet targets rather than reduce crime. When they visit the site of a burglary or theft, and realise there is little evidence, they somehow to lose the will to do what they are paid for. It is regrettable that public services have gone this way, yet we must accept that it is a fact and protect our own environment. In this case, I will recommend that the client moves. If they do not, their insurer is likely to offer severely onerous terms and conditions which will not increase their annual insurance investment but will make entering and exiting their office a trial. Something that the cap wearing thief does not have to face too often.

Wrap Up: The police are there to help, yet they are not very good at following up on identifying criminals. The client is really annoyed that the “obvious” offender has got away with it – twice! However, even a private prosecution would fail without any evidence.

Top Tip: If it is your equipment, it is your responsibility. Never expect anyone else to pay for it. You make think your items are covered when in the possession of a third party that is repairing it. What happens if their insurance is inadequate?

Categories : Accountants Insurance,After The Event,All Risks Insurance,Building Contractor,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Contractors Insurance,Customer Service,Design Insurance,Domian name protection,General Requirements,Health & Safety,Intellectual Property Insurance,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Litigation expenses insurance,Patent Insurance,Personal Insurance,Solicitors indemnity,Solicitors insurance,Trade,Trade Secret Protection,Trademark Insurance,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , , , ,