Business Insurance Blog


Why Are Insurance Premiums Increasing?

There’s no doubt that this year has seen significant increases in insurance premiums. Unfortunately, we expect this trend to continue over the coming 12 months, particularly for home and commercial property owners and business owners.

So why are insurance premiums increasing by so much?


We’ve posed this question to many of the insurance companies we work with and the universal answer is ………

increasing claim costs.


The increased frequency and severity of significant weather events has resulted in increasing claim payouts for insurers. If you reflect on the last 4 months, we’ve had floods in Townville, a cyclone in North Queensland, Bushfires in Eastern Victoria and a huge hail storm that passed through Sydney. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the insurance bill from this storm alone is nearing $675m. 


Today, independent data released by the Actuaries Institute revealed that the frequency of extreme weather in the country’s worst affected regions has double compared to the long-term average.


You can read the full report here, however, in summary; the evidence suggests we are getting more extreme maximum temperatures, fewer extreme minimum temperatures and more extreme sea level rises. The expectation now is that this pattern will result in more severe weather events. 

Insurers are starting to factor in this ‘new normal’ into their rating models, and this is flowing through to higher insurance premiums.


So, what can you do to reduce your insurance premium?


Shop around. Give us a call and we will gladly review the market to see if we can source you a more competitive insurance solution.

As an insurance broker, we have access to leading Australian insurers and international marketplaces. We will leverage our experience and relationships to negotiate the best outcome for you. 


Why do property owners need public liability insurance?

As a commercial property owner you can be held liability for personal injury to tenants, customers and visitors whilst they are on your property.

Claims can result from:

  • Slips, trips and falls (cracks in pathways, loose carpet, uneven floors, faulty stair rails etc);
  • Poorly maintained or faulty rental appliances and building plant and machinery;
  • Poorly laid out or controlled car parking facilities;
  • Fires and electrical faults caused by poor maintenance or construction,
  • Inadequate cleaning or housekeeping in common areas or wet floors during cleaning operations;
  • Highly polished surfaces;
  • Unmarked plate glass panels (which should be marked with opaque materials or etchings to alert people who might walk into them);
  • Inadequate lighting;
  • Inadequate security arrangements;
  • Inadequate signage and fire protection;
  • Faults in lifts, elevators or escalators;

Below is a link to a real example of a personal injury liability claim occurring at a commercial property. The injured third party was originally awarded a $180,000 settlement, however this was overturned due to good property management practices.

You can manage your liability exposure by outsourcing the management of your property to a licensed property manager or real estate agent. It’s also important to conduct periodic inspections and respond to any maintenance issues or complaints immediately.

If you would like to discuss insurance for your commercial property, please contact us today to speak to one of our specialist property brokers.


Financial Planner charged $1 million for Cybersecurity Weakness.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has just announced that a financial advisory firm in the US will pay $1 million to settle charges after weakness in its cybersecurity policies and procedures helped cyber intruders gain access to the personal information of thousands of customers. You can read the full article here.


While this charge has been laid against a US firm, in February 2018, similar laws have been introduced in Australia (Notifiable Data Breach Scheme) that can result in significant fines if a company has a data breach.


As an industry that provides personal advice, it’s likely that you will be storing sensitive financial and medical information for a number of your clients. This information is valuable to hackers and it’s why we believe there is a very real cyber threat for the financial planning industry.


Cyber insurance can help financial planners mitigate against the risk of a breach and potentially a resulting fine since the underwriting process can identify gaps in cyber security plans and operations, in additional to providing financial support and access to specialist privacy lawyers, computer and IT forensic investigators and crisis management teams.


No firm is too small or too large to be hacked. The question is, can you afford to be?


Cover starts from $900 pa. Call us today to discuss.


Motor Trades – Can you afford an injury in the workplace?

No matter how hard you’ve tried to create a safe workplace, you still may find yourself facing a workplace injury claim. In a work environment where employees are using tools, operating machinery and moving vehicles, work place injuries are a high risk.


As an employer, it’s simply impossible to plan for every possible scenario that could lead to an injury.  However, the onus is on the Employer to create a Safe Workplace. If you fail to do so, you can be investigated and fined by Safe Work Australia.


Recently, a business was fined close to $600,000 when two of its employees got into a physical fight.


The average Workplace claim can cost your business over $100,000. The legal costs to defend yourself against an investigation can be tens of thousands of dollars.


Mistakes can happen, and employees can be injured while at work. Management Liability Insurance is designed to protect you and your business in the event you are investigated or fined due to a workplace injury.


Get in touch to find out more about motor trade insurance before it’s too late.


Common Cyber Scams – Fake Invocies

Have you recently received an email from a supplier requesting payment of an invoice?

It’s good business practice to get in the habit of calling suppliers or known associates to verify BSB and Account number details prior to making a payment. 

Scammers are getting smart and have started using various email scams to convince you to pay a fake or doctored invoice.

Some of these scams include;

  • Posing as an executive staff member and directing you, via email, to make an urgent payment of an attached invoice.
  • Adjusting the payment details on legitimate invoices so the money gets paid into the scammers account instead of your suppliers.

Over the course of this year, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network have reported that over $22.1m has been transferred from businesses to scammers accounts using some form of  email scam.

Triggers to indicate the email may be a cyber scam

  • BSB and Account details on the invoice are different to what’s in your system.
  • Email address is slightly different to the normal address you have on file. An example may be that the ”.au” is missing from the end of the email.
  • The invoice is not one that you are expecting.

Tips to avoid incurring financial loss to online scammers

  • Always verbally check the BSB and Account number using a trusted phone number. Confirming a change via email is not a secure method of validation.
  • If you don’t know what the invoice is for, call a colleague to verify.

As cyber crime becomes more common, it’s import to consider a cyber insurance policy as an important part of your business insurance program.


Pitfalls of cash settling an insurance claim!

Before accepting a cash settlement, you should take the time to ask yourself whether this is the right option for you.  While a cash settlement might seem like a good option, there are many risks associated with this decision. Here are some things to consider before cash-settling your insurance claim.


Has your insurer offered you a cash settlement for your property insurance claim?  A settlement is a lump sum of money given to you by the insurer to settle whole or part of your claim.


Before accepting a cash settlement, you should take the time to ask yourself whether this is the right option for you.  While a cash settlement might seem like a good option, there are many risks in relying on a cash settlement.  Importantly, a cash settlement might cause you to lose certain insurance benefits.  To help you future-proof your entitlement, this article outlines some things you might wish to consider before cash-settling your insurance claim.


Price of repair can vary

In a cash settlement, quotes to repair property are fixed to the costs at the time of damage.  If repairs are delayed or take a long time, rising labour and materials costs might significantly raise the actual cost of fixing the property.  Claimants should be aware that their cash settlement entitlement is fixed to the amount of the initial assessment.  If you cash settle the claim, the insurer is not obliged to cover the job at a higher cost.


Additional damages

Similarly, the settlement amount will be based on an assessment of the damage caused to the property at the time.  In some circumstances, damages are not always obvious when the damage assessment takes place.  For example, in weather damage claims, an insurer’s assessment might not account for latent mould, or structural damage problems that show up later on.  These issues can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of extra damage.  If you cash settle the claim, the insurer is not obligated to cover these additional costs.



Once you cash settle an insurance claim, you are no longer covered by the contract of insurance.  Therefore, there is no warranty on any repairs undertaken with the cash settlement sum.  If the repairs are unsatisfactory, or if they have issues in the future, you will need to cover these costs yourself.  There is no option for recourse against the insurer.


Temporary accommodation

If you are unable to live in your home while it is being rebuilt or repaired, home insurance policies offer additional cover for temporary accommodation.  A cash settlement will end the claim, so the settlement amount does not include this accommodation cover.  Therefore, if a claim is cash settled, claimants will need to find and pay for their own alternative accommodation arrangements.


While a cash settlement might seem like a quick and easy option, it can often disentitle you from claiming for future damage, and leave you out-of-pocket in the long run.  Therefore, you should always make sure to consider your circumstances and weigh up your options before accepting a cash settlement.



Leading Causes of House Fires and the Precautions You Should be Taking

House fires are a major cause of property damage, personal injury, and even death. But most are preventable. Here are the top causes of home blazes, and what you can do to ensure your home and family are prepared and fire safe.


Fire coverage is something that instantly springs to mind when one thinks about home insurance, but what actually causes these fires often only gets thought about when it’s too late.


According to a recent Queensland Times article, statistics across the state indicate that there have been over 550 house fire call outs between January and May this year, with 12 lives lost due to fire related deaths at the time of publishing. However, most fatal fires are preventable. With a little foresight and planning, risks can be minimised, and damage can be mitigated or avoided completely.


So, what are the top causes of household fires, and what precautions can you take?


Old or Faulty Smoke Alarms

The most important thing you should do is check that you have properly functioning smoke alarms. Old alarms need to be replaced, batteries need to be checked every month by pressing the test button on the device, and they should be kept free of obstructions, such as dust and cobwebs. Smoke alarms that are operating correctly are absolutely crucial to house fire protection, and act as a safety net for everything else on this list.


Objects Near Heaters And Fireplaces

Anything in the vicinity of heaters or fireplaces, especially flammable objects, pose a fire threat and could catch alight. Keep objects at least two metres away, and never leave the area unchecked or unattended.


Incorrect Use Of Power Outlets And Appliances

Overloaded power outlets form a major fire risk. Go easy on multi-adaptors; unplug electrical appliances when not in use and when leaving the house; and, only charge items when they can be regularly checked on, and away from flammable objects. 


Distracted Occupants

Distraction can lead to disaster. A burnt meal may be the least of your worries if a stovetop is left unattended. Ensure you are careful and present, especially in the kitchen, and always turn appliances off when done with cooking.


It’s also important to have a plan if a blaze does occur. Sit down with your family and discuss your exact plan if a smoke alarm does trigger. Programs like the Queensland Government’s Great Escape are fantastic resources to ensure your family is prepared for such a situation.


How the Right Broker Can Help With Rejected Insurance Claims

Insurance companies sometimes get a bad rap for trying to weasel their way out of legitimate claims. We’ve all heard more than our fair share of stories about companies that have denied claims on technicalities, upholding the letter etc. This is not in the spirit of the contract.
In Australia, however, it’s rare for reputable insurance providers to deny a claim. In fact, according to a study published by the Financial Ombudsman Service, only 3% of all insurance claims are denied.
But you’re probably wondering… what if I end up in the 3%? Can my family or my business survive a costly liability? Isn’t that why you’ve been paying for insurance in the first place?

Why are Insurance Claims Refused?

If you ever receive a rejected insurance claim, turn to your broker for assistance to understand the finer points of the insurance policy, and how your circumstances fit within the policy.
The 3 most common reasons for insurance claims being denied are:
1. Limited coverage that does not include the damage within your claim.
2. Claims in excess of the policy limit.
3. Lapsed coverage which can arise for a variety of reasons, including failure to pay your monthly insurance premium.
If your claim is denied for one of the above reasons, the insurance company’s decision may be legitimate. Or, if you’ve done your research, you may still feel the denial is unreasonable. Either way, you should reach out to your broker for help taking further action.
Your broker can quickly help you determine whether there are grounds for challenging the insurer’s decision. Specifically, most insurers subscribe to the General Insurance Code of Practice. This code is in place to ensure fair and timely resolution of customer disputes. If your insurer has violated the code, you can use that violation to demand a fair, equitable, and prompt resolution. Specifically, section 10 of the code deals with complaints and disputes. There are strict time periods in place in which insurers must deal with complaints.

Leverage your Broker’s network

Perhaps the most confusing thing about navigating a rejected insurance claim is the variety of protocols and institutions that play a role in the appeal process.
Under Australian law, insurers are required to provide two separate avenues for appeal.
1. Internal Disputes: Every Australian insurance company MUST provide an internal dispute resolution process, allowing you to appeal the denial directly with the insurer. Most insurance companies don’t promptly reply to these inquiries, so be prepared to wait for a response. However, under law, insurers are required to respond to you within 15 days. Because your broker is often well connected with the insurance company, he/she can help you receive a response as quickly as possible. They can also help you to provide all required information on the first submission so that the review process is not held up further.
2. External Financial Ombudsman Service: Once you’ve gone through the proper internal dispute channels, you can appeal the decision to an independent Australian agency called the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). If you’re still not satisfied with the results of your internal dispute, ask your broker to provide you with the proper contacts to initiate an external adjudication through the FOS-.

Your Broker knows your policy

You can measure the quality of your insurance broker by the depth of their knowledge about your policy. The best brokers will know the finer detail about your policy, allowing them to effectively mediate with your insurer if/when your claim is refused.

If you want to know more about whether your insurance policy has you correctly covered please feel free to call us on 1300 167 143.


Insure against bad luck? Yes you can!

We’re all human right? We all have clumsy moments and drop things or become forgetful and lose things. Generally we categorise these moments as bad luck. There is a way to insure against these everyday life accidents, protecting your home and personal belongings – its called Accidental Damage cover. It’s a cover that gives that extra level of insurance protection that you may be missing out on.

In the current market there are two types of home and contents insurance policies which are:
1. Defined events
2. Accidental Damage

Both of these policies offer an extra layer of protection but it’s important to understand what they cover to identify which policy would be most applicable to you.

Defined Events Policy
The type of policy you’ve purchased should always be stated clearly on your insurance paperwork. A Defined Events insurance policy can also go by the name of Listed Events or a Listed Perils Policy. A Defined Events policy will typically limit you to only being able to make a claim for loss or damage caused by:

  • Fire or explosion
  • Lightning
  • Earthquake
  • Theft or attempted the of contents from the home
  • Deliberate or malicious acts
  • Bursting, leaking, discharging or overflowing of fixed basins, shower bases, or other fixed apparatus or fixed pipes used to hold or carry liquid of any kind
  • Fusion of an electric motors less than 15 years old
  • Accidental breakage of fixed glass, hand basins, baths and toilet bowls or cisterns
  • Riot and civil commotion
  • Impact by a vehicle, aircraft, falling tree, anima, television or radio aerial or falling power or communication poles
  • Storm cyclone, hurricane and rainwater
  • Flood

Overall a Defined Events Policy is good but it doesn’t offer cover for those everyday bad luck moments.

Accidental Damage Policy
In comparison to a Defined Events policy, an Accidental Damage policy will cover the same events but it goes above and beyond by covering you for damage to your building and contents that is caused by an accident. So:
• If you accidentally drop and break personal items (at home or away from home)
• If you accidentally leave or lose any personal items (at home or away from home)
• If you accidentally damage your carpets, walls or parts of your building

If you want to be covered for all of the above then Accidental Damage is the cover you require

So just to recap, both the Defined Events and Accidental Damage policies will cover your Building and Contents for the events listed in the Product Disclosure Statement. However the Accidental Damage policy is superior in its coverage and provides accidental damage to your building and contents in your home and to top it off – worldwide cover for loss or damage to your personal items.
As with all insurance policies, limits and maximum values may apply. An Accidental Damage policy will generally have higher limits than that of a Defined Events policy.
If you want to know more about upgrading to an Accidental Damage policy or if you’re not sure what type of policy you have in place, please feel to call us on 1300 167 143.


6 things you cannot ignore when it comes to your commercial building insurance

As a commercial property owner, the cost of being underinsured can be significant. Yet, so many owners underestimate the total cost of rebuilding their commercial property. To add insult to injury, if your building is not insured for full replacement value, your insurer can apply an under-insurance clause that will limit your claim payment.

With the help of your Insurance Broker, make sure to factor in these 6 additional expenses when working out the replacement value for your building:

  • Debris Removal – This is often overlooked, but you WILL have to remove the damaged building at your property location before you can start to rebuild and replace. Plan accordingly.
  • Architects, Engineers, etc. – Before you can start the rebuild, you’ll need to hire a variety of people to get the project underway. This includes, but is not limited to, surveyors, architects, and (in some cases) engineers.
  • Government Regulations – If your property currently occupies an area that’s governed by local building regulations, you’ll need to factor compliance with those standards into the final cost. Example: Accessibility, Fire Safety, Etc.…
  • Goods & Services Tax (GST) – As you already know, end-consumers are required to pay a 10% GST on most sales. After calculating the total expected costs of a full rebuild, add 10% of that total to ensure that your GST is covered.
  • Legal Expenses – Legal disputes are an unfortunate reality when building, or rebuilding, your building. Be sure to factor in possible disputes with your local government, or with the contractors, architects, and engineers that you pay to complete the project.
  • Material and Labour Costs – Be sure to update your building sum insured on a regular basis to keep inline with inflation. While you may be depreciating the value of your building for tax purposes, the actual cost to rebuild your building will generally go up over time due to an increase material and labour costs.

If you want to learn more about commercial property insurance, call Guard Insurance Brokers on 1300 167 143 and speak to one of our friendly Insurance Brokers.