In this article, Craig Baills of Highfields Mechanical explains that in a world of “what ifs,” making sure businesses are covered in the event of the unforeseen is imperative

Yes, I am talking insurance, and if there are two things in business that really annoy me, it is Insurance and Tax: money that we give away with no control over how it may or may not be used.
Let’s talk specifics – the majority of workshops are small businesses, owned by a husband and wife, father and son or completely solo, and we happened into business because we had a passion for the industry and an exceptional professional ability in our trade.
We grew and established businesses based on our abilities and developed a whole new book of skills along the way; bookkeeping, accounting, HR, WHS, marketing, customer service, skills development and the list goes on.
With some of the more complex areas of business, we leave that up to external “professionals” or “salespeople” to address for us; after all we cannot do everything, and this is where insurance comes in.
What are the right policies? What is the correct amount of cover? What if this or that happens? Why do I need WorkCover? And so the intricacies of insurance can begin to give business owners a monumental headache while also taking a fair chunk from the cash flow.
Now I know there are some businesses that choose to operate with little or no cover and even avoid WorkCover – if this is you, you are playing Russian Roullette with your business, your staff and your bank account. I strongly recommend you change your ways, factor the costs into your business operating expenses and adjust your pricing accordingly.
If you do have insurance policies in place, make sure they cover you and if there are areas of vulnerability in your policy, address these with your Insurance Professional.
You should consider the following:

  1. Contents Insurance
  2. Vehicle damage whilst at your shop including accidental, storm, hail
  3. Business Interruption
  4. Faulty Workmanship
  5. Mechanical Breakdown of equipment
  6. Theft and Break-In
  7. Building Damage
  8. Loan Cars
  9. Towing of Customer Cars
  10. Income Protection

The list goes on, and each individual business will have its own specific needs. Look very carefully at your policy; make sure everything that you need covered, is covered; and make sure your insurance provider is diligent to your needs and not just wanting to sign you up.
It is good advice to document what is discussed, whether the conversation is by phone, face to face or email, as you will only find out how good your insurance company is when it comes time to claim for the unexpected.
This leads me into Workcover, which is a compulsory insurance policy to cover your staff in the event of a workplace injury. I won’t get started on WorkCover itself, but rest assured, if you have staff, you need a WorkCover policy: no ifs, no buts.
Workcover does a few things, including:

  1. Protecting your employees in the event of a workplace injury
  2. Covering medical expenses and ongoing medical costs as a result of workplace injuries
  3. Covering the staff member’s income whilst on a WorkCover claim
  4. Offering insurance and protection for the employer should a WorkCover claim be escalated to a common law claim.

Again, WorkCover is necessary based on what ifs, and is there to protect your staff and employees. It is a must have, but along with it comes some responsibilities for the business:

  1. Having proper incident reporting processes in place
  2. Providing induction training and operational processes
  3. Ensuring best practises and safe procedures are implemented in the workplace
  4. Providing PPE
  5. Also while it is not compulsory, you should feel free to conduct medical assessments prior to employment.

As employers, we have a responsibility to our staff to provide safe workplaces and give them the confidence that if something goes wrong, they will be taken care of.
Should a claim ever get to the level of common law with a No Win, No Fee law firm, trust me, you will need every ounce of documentation and coverage you can find.
Treat insurance as another tool in your business. It is there to serve a purpose when specific problems arise and to cover your backside when things hit the fan. Be diligent, and make sure your insurance company knows your business.

Craig Baills, Highfields Mechanical

Here’s to the future,
Craig Baills, Highfields Mechanical
Member of Automotive Repairer Council of Australia (ARCA) Committee