Practical guidance on how smaller companies in Co. Antrim can counter rising business insurance costs by taking greater control of office and shopfloor safety risks and by working more closely with their insurance advisors is being provided by Invest Northern Ireland.

Over 20 local companies attended the special briefing on costs resulting from Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance organised by the Invest NI club in Leighinmohr House Hotel of 4 June.

Keynote speakers at the lunchtime meeting were Peter McCarron, Invest NI’s Business Improvement Services, Tom McCreery, a director of Coyle and Hamilton, a leading Belfast insurance brokerage, which has helped a number of local companies tackle rising costs, and Alison Flynn of Invest NI’s Ballymena-based local regional office.

Further briefings are planned in Belfast (11 June); Omagh (25 June); and Londonderry (2 July) through Invest NI’s regional network of business clubs.

Mr McCarron said: “Recent sharp rises in insurance costs have had a serious impact on the competitiveness particularly of smaller companies which are unable to pass these on easily to customers.

“At recent meetings of the regional clubs, insurance concerns were raised and a number of examples of companies which had succeeded in either maintaining or reducing costs through more effective management emerged. We decided to organise the briefings to enable us to pass on the experiences of these companies to other businesses across Northern Ireland,” he added.

Mr McCreery said many companies mistakenly believed that they could exert little influence on premiums quoted by large insurers.

“Insurance is the same as other business costs; it can and must be managed by companies taking greater control of risks and showing insurers that they have effective measures that reduce hazards and overall liability.

“Effective risk management procedures are no longer an option but a requirement. These can be the difference between a realistic quote and no quote at all from an insurer.”

Managers could start by ensuring that their broker had experience in their business sector and understand the needs of their company. An experienced broker should help in identifying risks affecting the business and likely to influence an insurer.

“By working more closely with their broker, companies can gain greater understanding of an insurer’s requirements and implement measures that will impact on costs. A broker can also help by presenting the business in its most positive light, emphasising the investment in risk management to potential insurers,” he added.

Some of the companies participating in the Ballymena briefing were:
Accredited Drilling Services, Ballymena; ALR Waste, Larne; Browntex, Antrim; Catering Equipment Engineers, Antrim; Country Pine Furnishings, Antrim; Digital Wiring, Dunadry; Crawford Contracts, Ballymena; Donnelly Cabins, Templepatrick; Drumack Coachworks, Rasharkin; Ecomesh, Portglenone; Feargas Quinn Hearses, Portglenone; Francis Dinsmore, Kells; Innovation Technologies (Ireland), Carrickfergus; J Robinson and Sons, Ballymena; Logan’s Executive Travel, Ballymoney; MacQuillan Envirocare, Antrim; Maine Engineering, Ballymena; Michelin Tyre Plc, Ballymena; Sunny Sales, Cushendall; UKATVS, Ballymena and Warwick Engineering, Ballymena
Representatives from Acorn Business Centre, Ballymoney; Antrim Enterprise Agency; Ballymena Business Centre; LEDCOM, Larne; Moyle Enterprise Company, Ballycastle; and Moyle District Council, Ballycastle also attended the seminar.