As we wave goodbye to 2021 - our 40th anniversary year - our commercial director Stephen Hodgson looks back on how RBIG has helped businesses meet the challenges presented by another testing 12 months.
This was a year that many will want to forget. The ever-changing Covid landscape saw businesses riding a rollercoaster, knuckles white whenever a ministerial statement appeared on the horizon.
The pandemic, coupled with other factors, created considerable economic disruption.
These were mitigated, at least in the short term by much welcomed government measures. The furlough, Self Employment Income Support, Coronavirus Job Retention and other schemes and grants helped support many businesses through the worst.
And when restrictions were lifted in July it was heartening to see the economy bounce back with vigour.
But reaching the end of the roadmap also meant the end of many protective measures. We signalled in April that we could be in for a bumpy ride when the moratorium on presentation of winding up petitions ended.
That move - eventually enacted on September 30 for debts exceeding £10,000 - coupled with the ending of the furlough scheme could, we warned, spell trouble.
A surge in insolvencies would, we said, "have a domino effect on supply chains," which would "mean that otherwise healthy businesses could suffer a financial hit."
We advised businesses to prepare by taking out trade credit insurance. This, we argued would help derisk them by providing protection against late and non-payment of debts.
Directors & Officers risk rise
Similarly, we warned in August that the forecast increase in insolvencies could push up risk for directors and officers.
We noted that "When a business goes bump, insolvency practitioners may look to recover losses from its directors," adding that "Such actions are one of the more common causes of directors and officers insurance claims.
In October the Insolvency Service reported a 63% year-on-year spike in company insolvencies.
We also warned that once "return to the office" restrictions were lifted there might be an increase in employer, shareholder and regulatory actions. Our advice was to renew existing or take out new D&O cover - and fast. Again we were aware of rising premiums and tightening capacity in the sector.
Skills and labour shortages impacted the supply chain throughout the year, with sometimes unexpected consequences.
In April we highlighted that rising rebuilding costs were increasing the risk of underinsurance. Those cost increases were fuelled by material and labour shortages, exacerbated by Covid restrictions.
Our advice was for business owners to ensure that they secure regular and accurate assessments of the cost of rebuilding their property. To assist with this we offered professional rebuilding valuations via RICS regulated specialist, RCA, from just £95 (+VAT). Incidentally, these are still available at that extraordinarily competitive price.
Making things better
In September we advised manufacturing businesses how they could better insulate themselves from potential disruption.
We highlighted one of the commercial insurance industry's better kept secrets: specialist manufacturing insurance or manufacturing business interruption insurance.
This, we pointed out, could mitigate against machinery breakdown and repair delays and other business interruptions induced by supply chain failure.
We stressed that the cost of such delays and interruptions would not be covered under standard commercial property insurance.
With the pandemic dust finally settling - although temporarily - we were able to turn attention to longer term issues.
They don't get much longer term or important than climate change. As October's COP26 conference opened we advised that in the business world Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues were set to take centre stage.
Regardless of what the politicians do or don't do, industry is acting.
In insurance this means insurers not only committing themselves to Net Zero targets, but walking away from fossil fuel risks and increasingly incorporating ESG issues within risk assessments.
This will, we noted, "impact the nature and availability of commercial insurance."
We further asked whether small businesses are ready to address ESG issues? Could they, with limited resources, assess their Carbon Corporate Footprint? The answer was "yes" - you can read more about that here.
We were also able to reassure that, as a professional commercial insurance broker with a long trading pedigree, RBIG is on hand to provide our clients with expert guidance on how to satisfy underwriters' ESG criteria.
Whilst helping businesses navigate the serious issues of the day, we still made time to celebrate our 40th anniversary.
Throughout September we posted reminders on our LinkedIn page of how things were back in 1981 when RBIG was founded - and how they have changed over the years.
Embracing everything from the invention of the Post-It note through the price of a loaf of bread, Donkey Kong, the invention of a thing called the Internet and much more, we hope it provided our followers with some amusing and interesting diversions from the every day.
Now, as we turn the last few leaves of the calendar on our anniversary year, we will be looking forward rather than back.
No doubt 2022 will present further challenges. We'll be here to help you identify, mitigate against or overcome them wherever and whenever we can.