Practical guidance on how smaller companies 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 through its network of regional business clubs.

More than 70 local companies attended the first special briefing on costs resulting from Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance organised by the Invest NI club for Counties Armagh and Down and held in the City Hotel, Armagh on May 1.

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 Mark Bleakney, Head of Invest NI’s Newry-based local regional office.

Further briefings are planned in Ballymena (4 June); Belfast (11 June); Omagh (25 June); and Londonderry (2 July).

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 Armagh briefing were:
Alan Little Portadown; A R Graham Engineering Armagh ; Armatile Armagh; Banbridge Coachworks Banbridge; BL Shutters Craigavon; Bowman Windows Banbridge; C & R Furniture Armagh; C & J Meats Armagh ; Caspac Keady; CCL Services Newry; Central Chemical Supplies Donaghcloney; Chapman Foods Portadown; Corless Meats Warrenpoint; EMS (SA) Newry; Environmental Fabrications, Tandragee; EPS Textiles, Newry; Fane Valley Armagh; Farringford Foods Portadown, First Derivatives Newry; Foamspray Portadown; Franklins Banbridge; Freeza Meats Warrenpoint; Get Things on Line Warrenpoint; Glenpac Newry; IDS Direct Marketing Newry; JK Engineering Newry; John Tinnelly and Sons Armagh; Just Mobility Ltd Warrenpoint; Legends International Armagh; Macspec Engineering Ballynahinch; McAllister Brothers Newry; MGA Communications Ballynahinch; MJM Marine Ltd Banbridge; Murdock Hardwood Industries Newry; NC Agricultural Engineering Armagh; Orchard Farm Foods Lurgan; PFT Systems Armagh; Polarlight Belfast; R Thompson & Son Armagh; Reen Compost Armagh; Reflex Mouldings Markethill; Salters Steamcleaners Portadown; Shanlieve Stone Kilkeel; Steel Framed Homes Armagh; Tayto, Tandragee; and The Farmers Pork Company Portadown.