Many Australians, especially those who own businesses, discover they don’t have the cover they need in the worst possible circumstances – when they need to claim. Let’s discuss some of the issues we are observing due to businesses not having the correct building and contents replacement values. We will also look at an important insurance clause, which could be applied to your claim.
In recent years, we have seen a substantial increase in the cost of building materials, however, we find businesses are either not increasing the building and contents replacement values at all, or they are applying inadequate minor increases, which leaves the property and business owners financially exposed.
To give you some examples behind some of the material increases we have seen:
Within Property Damage & Business Interruption insurance policies, there is a clause known as the ‘Under-insurance’ or ‘Co-insurance’ or ‘Average’ clause. This clause limits the amounts payable under a claim if the sum insured on the property is understated. Depending on the policy, the property must be insured for a certain percentage of the replacement value (usually 80% or 85%). However, replacement value does not mean what you paid for the property, it means the actual cost to demolish and rebuild damaged building structures or the replacement cost for new machinery, fittings & contents.
Each insurer allows this 15 – 20% margin to account for fluctuations in construction costs & in recognition that you are not a professional valuer. If you are within the margin & suffer a partial loss to your assets, the clause will not apply & you will receive full settlement of the claim cost. However, if you suffer a total loss, then your settlement will be limited to your Sum Insured. Your task, therefore, is to set the most accurate Sum Insured which reflects the replacement cost of your asset. To assist in setting the Sum Insured, we recommend the use of licensed valuers or, at a minimum, the use of an external person with knowledge on costings (Commercial Builder, Estimator, etc.).
Let’s assume the sum insured for a building is declared by the insured at $1,500,000
But the actual total replacement value for the building is actually $2,000,000
For the purpose of underinsurance calculation 85% (of $2m) equates to $1,700,000
$1.5M is less than $1.7M. Therefore, the under-insurance or co-insurance clause will apply to the settlement of the claim.
The building suffers partial fire damage with a repair cost of $500,000
Actual loss ($500,000) times Declared value ($1,500,000) divided by 85% of actual replacement ($1,700,000)
Insurer will pay out $441,176
Leaving the insured to pay $58,824
The more the policyholder is underinsured, the more the policyholder has to pay (contribute) to the loss. Note, if the building was destroyed, the loss would be $2M & the insurer would pay $1.5M (the Sum Insured) in settlement.
Here are some of the common errors made are in:
Competitive Insurance Solutions has access to leading industry tools and calculators which can be of great benefit to you, your business and your insurance program.
It is believed that business underinsurance is highly prevalent in Australia. The Insurance Council of Australia believes that one in eight businesses are not insured & a further 10% are underinsured for their assets.
By working through the tips provided, you will not only avoid underinsurance, but will also obtain the added financial security that your business requires.
Talk to the friendly team at Competitive Insurance Solutions today to review your underinsurance risk.
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