The Brits have always been the type to just get on with things, not make a fuss, and secretly grumble when things go wrong. This meant that, as a nation, the amount of lawsuits brought against companies by individuals was negligible in comparison to the US. Recently however, there has been a bit of a shift towards the American culture of suing and compensation, and more cases are being heard in court than ever before. So what does this mean for businesses? And why has it all come about?
You can’t help but to have seen or heard one of the many “no win, no fee” adverts on the TV or radio in recent years, claiming that if you have had an accident then you are entitled to compensation, and if the case fails, you lose nothing. This is an attractive claim for those that have had an accident, and with nothing to lose many are taking advantage of these offers. The key thing is that previously those outside of the legal profession would have had no idea that there was any way to claim money back from an accident and these ads have brought the message into the homes of everyone.
Luckily for business owners the insurance to protect against such claims actually pre-dates the influx of American-style lawyers. Public liability insurance protects businesses should someone have an accident on their property, or if an accident should occur as a result of the company’s actions. This cover extends to members of the public, contractors such as cleaners or freelancers, and clients or customers. You can set the amount of cover you want based on any perceived risks, the size of your company and the maximum level your insurer will offer. This insurance will pay your legal fees and any compensation should this be won.
There is a general increased awareness about financial issues since the recession, and many people who would previously have had no clue about money issues now have a stronger grasp. People like no win, no fee lawyers and those offering PPI claims saw opportunity for a boom when people were at their poorest during the economic downturn and they have stuck around since. This in turn has led to the general public taking a more vested interest in their finances, which is no bad thing, but something businesses need to take notice of. Being seen to avoid the rights of the public is not good for your company image, so should the worst happen and someone should have an accident, make sure you make the injured party aware that you take responsibility if you are certain it was your fault.
As the public are taking a keener interest in all things finance, so should you too as a business owner. Check all your insurances are up to date, and that you are aware of any changes to the law as they occur and adapt accordingly. Making a claim on an insurance policy is not the end of the world, but potentially having to close your business in order to pay crippling court fees and pay-outs is.