Public Liability insurance - In the news

How long is (the paperwork for) a piece of string?

For most people celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee 35 years ago, there was only one rule – enjoy yourself.

Today, it’s a different story, according to a mayor planning a series of parties for this year’s Diamond Jubilee.

Robert Needham, who also organised events in 1977, has claimed that a ‘mire of health and safety’ has prevented him from putting up bunting – that is, until he has completed a survey to ensure the flags are ‘structurally safe’.

However, he is not alone. Most councils demand that organisers - usually community-minded volunteers - take out liability insurance of £5m or even £10m and have someone on call 24 hours a day.

Mr Needham, 70, mayor of Wivenhoe, Essex, said: ‘I remember organising a street party in 1977 and back then you just got on and did it – there were no restrictions.

‘Then, by the time of the Golden Jubilee, I was involved with another street party and we had to get a street closure order, complete a risk assessment and get public liability insurance in place.

‘That was after 25 years of so-called progress, so I guess I should not be surprised at what we are faced with for the Diamond Jubilee.
‘We just took it for granted that we would be okay putting up bunting and didn’t give it any thought.

‘It is extra work we can do without. There is a lot of jumping through hoops that we will have to do in order to get the event to go ahead.

‘Applying to put up cloth and plastic bunting seems to me something we can well do without.  
‘It’s very disappointing and does rather dampen the spirit of the event.’

Wivenhoe Town Council learned of the health and safety rules when it announced plans to hang the red, white and blue plastic flags along streets and in a playing field between May 26 and June 5.
However, killjoys from Essex County Council insisted assessments would have to be carried out first to make sure telegraph poles and fences were strong enough to support the weight of the paper-thin bunting.

Mr Needham said the celebrations would go ahead with or without the decorations.

A spokesman for Essex Council said that all district, borough, town and parish councils needed to apply for permission to put bunting or other decorations in public areas.

Officers will then assess if the locations are ‘structurally safe in terms of positioning and weight’.

Tracey Chapman, county councillor responsible for highways, said: 'We are looking forward to supporting local events to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and would welcome decorations in the county to mark the occasion.
'But the county council also has a duty to maintain public safety and must ensure decorations are health and safety compliant first.
'The county council intends to make it as easy as possible for residents to celebrate this momentous event and will be issuing guidance to help answer some of the most commonly asked questions.'

Sole traders out on a limb over insurance



Millions of sole traders are putting their businesses at risk because they have no insurance to protect against the loss of the owner or another 'key person', reports leading financial website

Sole traders often rely on just one or two people to run the business, yet research by Scottish Widows suggests that only two per cent of the UK's three million sole traders have key person insurance.

This type of plan is written on the life of a key director, executive or employee. If that person either becomes seriously ill or dies, the insurance policy will pay out a fixed sum that can be used either to employ someone else or to ensure that the business keeps going.
The extent of cover will depend on the individual policy and whether it includes a critical illness element.

The most basic and affordable policies pay out on death only, while those with a critical illness element would typically pay out in the event of cancer, a heart attack or a stroke.

Take-up of key person insurance is low among small businesses, despite three-quarters of sole traders agreeing that their business would be unlikely to survive the loss of a key employee.
Worryingly, nearly a quarter of sole traders have no business protection insurance at all, leaving them vulnerable to setbacks including thefts, fire and accidents.

Sean Miller, 39, operates as a sole trader, based in Crystal Palace, south London, designing and improving customer services for public and private businesses. He set up his company, Nonon, last April after being made redundant from his previous job.

He has some business insurance, including Public Liability cover, but he has yet to take out key man insurance.

'Because it is just me so far, and I need to manage money carefully, I have only taken out insurance which is strictly necessary,' he says. 'I have not even considered key man insurance seriously, though as the business grows I would consider it.'

Stephen Alambritis, head of public affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, says: 'It is vital for firms to consider how, if something such as serious illness did strike, the business would continue to function. It's always better to have detailed plans in place now, rather than worrying about what to do when it's too late.'

Don’t let the Games end up costing you gold

Reports the Evening Standard

Even someone whose head had been buried in sand for the past few months would know the London 2012 Olympics kick off in fewer than 100 days. In fact, the sand was probably destined for the long jump pit.

But as the capital prepares for the Games, the insurance industry is damping the mounting excitement.
It has some sobering news: whether renting out a home or driveway to any Olympic tourists or fleeing the country to escape the Olympics entirely, Britons need to check their cover to avoid a shock.

First: the basics. Anyone planning on renting out a spare room to an Olympic tourist needs to inform his or her household insurer, and mortgage lender.

“There may be restrictions or limitations to your home cover if all or part of your property is let on a temporary basis,” says Malcolm Tarling at the Association of British Insurers. The small print of most residential policies will exclude short-term lets, meaning that if you don’t inform your buildings and/or contents insurance provider, and your home floods or burns in your absence, the insurer could refuse to pay out.

Homeowners with mortgages will also need to contact their lender to check whether short-term lets are permitted. Some lenders insist on conditions, such as filing a letting application form or having a written contract in place.

Even renting out your driveway could leave you open to claims. “Those who live close to an Olympic venue who rent out their drive to a visitor will not be able to use household insurance to cover any damage caused to the vehicle,” warns Tarling.

“The owner of the vehicle will need to check with their motor insurer for any cover for damage or loss while parked in these circumstances.” If you’re fleeing the country for the duration of the Games, check that doing so doesn’t invalidate your home cover — some limit the cover if a property is left unoccupied for a month or more.

The same is true of travel insurance: because most providers have fixed terms of two weeks or a month, make sure you are covered for the duration of your holiday. Also, plan ahead: various insurers will be refusing to cough up for flights which have been missed because of some Olympic-related mayhem on the grounds that it could have been foreseen. “Not all travel insurance will cover events like travel congestion around the Olympic venues causing delays and missed flights,” says Tarling. “Check your policy. Some travel insurance policies may cover missed flights due to breakdown of public transport, industrial action or traffic congestion. However, if this cover is available you will be expected to have taken account of such congestion as you would have been aware of the Olympics beforehand.”

Anyone organising a street party should also check with the owner of the land (such as the local authority) to see if there is a requirement to take out Public Liability insurance in case any guests are injured. “Local authority websites have advice for street-party organisers,” says Tarling. “In any event it is sensible to consider taking out Public Liability insurance.”

Liability insurance needed for China's food industry


"An increasing number of food safety disputes have emerged with the public's enhanced awareness about food safety," said Feng Xingyun, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consiltive Conference, in an article in the People's Daily.

Feng referenced the tainted batches of Sanlu milk, which have been responsible for the death of four babies in the country and left over 50,000 children with urinary problems such as kidney stones.
The company was forced to recall more than 10,000 tons of milk powder, at a cost of more than ¥7000m yuan ($103m). It will also have to bear the medical costs of those affected.
According to local media reports, the company is on the verge of bankruptcy and is now being eyed by Beijing Sanyuan Food company as a takeover target.

"As most food and beverage enterprises are vulnerable to risks owing to their small scales and lack of insurance coverage, they often have limited compensation capabilities in the case of a food safety accident," Feng said.

Feng suggested that the Ministry of Health and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission should mandate liability insurance in the food and beverage sector in selected pilot areas, by introducing commercial insurance to their food and hygiene management system ahead of a gradual countrywide expansion.

The insurance would lower the enterprises' operating risks and enhance their ability to respond with compensation following food poisoning or consumer casualties, she said, adding that they would also alleviate pressure on the government arising from potential bailouts.

The coverage rate of liability insurance among Chinese enterprises is currently only 4%, according to the People's Daily, significantly lower than the world average of 15%, despite the first product liability insurance service launching in China over 20 years ago.