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Choosing the Right Insurance for Your Shopfitting Business

Rhino Trade Insurance 09 July 2024

A career in shopfitting requires you to be a dab hand at several different trades at once. To make it as a shopfitter, you require the precision of a joiner, the strength of a carpenter, the eye of an interior designer and the skills of an electrician. Sounds impressive to us, but here at Rhino we concentrate on one thing only – protecting the UK’s tradespeople from financial liability and helping them keep their growing businesses secure. 

So, take a break, pour yourself a strong brew and stay with us as we explore why it’s so important for you to have the right in insurance as a shopfitter.

The Blueprint of Risk: Unique Challenges for Shopfitters

To be a shopfitter, you must be hands-on and practically minded. If you have these qualities, it’s only natural that you’ll also have a strong awareness of risk and the impact these risks can have.

Working as a self-employed shopfitter comes with risks and hazards, both physical ones as well as risks to your livelihood. Let’s take a look at some of they key risks you face as a self-employed shopfitter:

  • On-site accidents 

Wielding a claw hammer, nail gun and a bow saw every day carries plenty of risk. Whereas office-dwelling folk might find themselves with hot coffee in their lap or sore typing fingers, that’s nothing compared to the risks shopfitters face in their work. On-site accidents are an unfortunate possibility in the shopfitting trade, whether you’re grafting at the workbench or on site doing an installation.

The top physical risks you face on-site include slipping and tripping, falls from height, musco-skeletal injuries from manual work and injuries sustained from the use of tools. Maybe you’ve been carted off to A&E yourself, or maybe it’s happened to your workmates. Either way, you face a litany of physical risks every time you show up to work as a shopfitter.

On-site accidents which leave you hurt mean you’ll need time off work to recover – which is a problem for self-employed shopfitters as you won’t get any income while you’re laid up. On-site accidents which harm someone else are also hugely problematic, as it’s likely you’ll be slapped with legal liability and a huge bill for compensation costs and legal fees.

  • Damage to property

As a shopfitter, you will work in various different locations from week to week. When you’re not at the workbench, you could be fitting out a shop, a restaurant, a bar, a bank, an office or even an airport. As well as the risk of physical injury, fitting units and handling power tools and equipment carries the risk of damaging your environment. If a salaried shopfitter causes damage to property, they can relax as it will be covered on their employer’s insurance. If a self-employed shopfitter causes damage – well, that’s another story. Whether the damage is minor or major – you’ll be at fault and on the hook financially, too.

  • Tool theft

Tool theft is like a plague on the hardworking tradespeople of the UK, and unfortunately it’s on the increase. Apparently, tools are stolen every 23 minutes in the UK, which is made even more shocking when you consider these are just the tool thefts reported to the police. Don’t think it won’t happen to you just because you’re careful. There are plenty of opportunities to nick tools when a shopfitter’s back is turned, and when it happens it can be financially disasterous.

  • Tax condundrums

Any self-employed individual might find themselves the subject of a random HMRC enquiry at some point. Self-employed tradespeople may need to prove to HMRC they are operating outside IR35, which can be a little tricky to navigate on your own. Plus, you need to concentrate on your day job and may not have time to trawl through documents and do battle with automated phone systems. It’s not just IR35, either. Errors on your Self-Assessment, corporation tax or VAT can land you in hot water and scrambling to find the records to prove that you’re operating above board. 

  • Legal problems

As a self-employed shopfitter, you can’t call upon the support of any employee assistance programmes, legal teams or HR help. You may get to keep all your profits as a self-employed shopfitter, but you’re also totally on your own when it comes to any sticky legal situations. From late payments, employee disputes, disagreements over contract delivery and many more, a self-employed shopfitter is vulnerable to a range of business-related risks.

  • Consultations gone wrong 

This won’t apply to all shopfitters, as not all shopfitters offer advice along with delivering the practical side of projects. However, if you offer a consultation service or any plans, advice, expertise, or other professional services that could potentially cause financial loss to clients if they followed your advice, then it has the potential to backfire spectacularly. A client could sue you for compensation for the financial damages they have suffered.

How to Mitigate These Risks

So, we know what can go wrong when working as a self-employed shopfitter. And it makes for grim reading! Let’s remedy that by discussing a few ways a shopfitter can mitigate the risks they face on the job:

  • Follow safety protocols

Your college courses and apprenticeships will have drilled in the importance of following the right safety protocol, including PPE and the correct manual handling techniques. We assume safety is second nature to you, but you should never allow yourself to get lax. Keep your work area clean, organised and clutter-free and stay up-to-date with your training on the safe use of tools and equipment. in a diverse range of commercial spaces means that every job poses a set of fresh risks, so don’t forget a thorough risk assessment before every job. 

  • Secure your tools

The tools of your trade – where would you be without them? Tool theft is a big problem for tradespeople in the UK right now, so make sure you don’t make your set an easy target for thieves. A locked toolbox, a vault built into your van and a secure parking spot covered by CCTV are all excellent ways to help keep your tools safe. When you’re on-site, make sure you never leave tools lying around as it only takes a moment for an opportunist thief to enter a closed job site while you’re having a tea break.

  • Become a bookkeeping whiz

When it comes to things like HMRC investigations and legal pickles, you’ll have a much easier time of it if your books are in good order. If you don’t already use one, it might be time to upgrade to job management software, so you can record, track and analyse everything from your tax-deductible purchases to your client invoices. 

Up-to-date and accurate record-keeping won’t get you out of legal hot water, but it will make things simpler for you and your chosen representatives should you need to prove outside IR35 working or income, for example.

  • Get insured

Insurance for shopfitters won’t stop things going wrong on-site or prevent a tax investigation being launched against you. However, as a self-employed shopfitter, having robust trade insurance in place is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against the financial liabilities arising from the risks you face. Some types of insurance are required by law, others are generally contractual, and some are just plain common sense. 

If in doubt about which types of cover you need, chat to Rhino to get the lowdown – did we mention that we’re the experts?

Tailoring Protection: Understanding Shopfitters Insurance

Rhino Trade Insurance are an award-winning insurance broker specialising in the trades. Thousands of UK tradespeople trust us to protect their businesses from risk, and thank to us, countless plumbers, sparkies, joiners, gardeners, painters, gas installation engineers and shopfitters have seen their businesses go from strength to strength no matter what liability claims or legal trouble may come their way. 

Our Shopfitters Insurance is a customisable bundle which offers outstanding protection against financial liability for the key industry-specific risks all self-employed shopfitters face. 

Our Shopfitters Insurance is built around our Public Liability Insurance. From there, you can add policies to suit your business, without paying for policies you won’t need or use. The limits of indemnity are all customisable, so you won’t need to worry about the cover limit being too high or low for your needs. Our handy quick quote engine will get you started.

Essential Coverage: Insurance Options for Shopfitters

Here are the most important types of insurance coverage shopfitters should consider:

Public Liability Insurance: The ‘daddy’ of tradesman insurance – every self-employed shopfitter needs this policy in their toolkit. Day-to-day, you’ll be working in a wide variety of commerical spaces and dealing with the general public, so protection against claims of third-party injury or property damage via this policy is essential. 

Professional Indemnity Insurance: If you’re a shopfitter who also draws up plans, gives advice or professional guidance to clients, then you’ll need this policy. It’ll be worth its weight in gold should you need it one day, as it gives you coverage for claims against you related to professional advice or services gone awry.

Employers’ Liability Insurance: If you’re one of the savvy shopfitters who has someone working under them (or a team of people), then you’ll need to add this policy to your bundle. Mandatory for shopfitters who employ staff, Employer’s Liability Insurance will cover claims from employees who have been injured or made ill due to their work.

Tax Enquiry Insurance: Whether it’s an IR35 investigation, PAYE compliance review, VAT check or Self-Assessment blunder, it can be nerve-wracking to have HMRC beating a path to your door. This policy provides an expert consultant to work on your case and up to £50,000 in expenses to cover your legal fees. This will enable you to get on with the business of delivering your shopfitting projects without the dark cloud of a tax enquiry hanging over you. 

Personal Accident Insurance: OK, shopfitting might not be risky as mending oil pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico. But it’s still a physically dangerous job and accidents on the job can mean time off work. To make sure you don’t lose out financially while you recover, Personal Accident Insurance will pay out a lump sum of up to £50,000 which will cover your expenses and living costs while you concentrate on recovery.

Income Protection Insurance: Much like Personal Accident Insurance, this policy will protect your income if you find yourself off work recovering from illness or injury. Should you require it, the policy will pay you a monthly sum up to £2,500 to keep everything ticking over nicely while you get well enough to pick up that claw hammer again. 

Legal Expenses Insurance: Legal Expenses Insurance is a guardian angel which will protect your shopfitting business against a range of common legal issues, including employment disputes, health and safety breaches, criminal prosecutions, restrictive covenants and property disputes. It offers up to £50,000 in legal costs covered, plus a handy £100 daily payout should you get called up for jury duty and need to miss work.

Contractor’s All Risks Insurance: This is a bit of a ‘secret weapon’ policy. It offers specific coverage for ongoing construction projects, protecting against material damage or loss. From initial design to completion, this policy will protect your partially-completed work from all manner of risks. See if the types of projects you do are eligible for coverage under Contractor’s All Risks Insurance by talking to Rhino today.

Rhino Trade Insurance: Your Partner in Shopfitting Protection

Rhino Trade Insurance are your lifelong insurance partners. Our expertise is in helping tradespeople like you protect their hard-earned cash through a range of customisable business insurance policies, which you can take out together in a low-cost bundle. We are flexible about payment options, too – you can choose to pay anually for your cover, or spread the cost with monthly repayments with no extra fees. You’ll always have a friendly, familiar voice on the other end of the line when you need it, and our claims process is so quick and straightforward.

At Rhino, we know what it takes to go self-employed as a tradesperson. Your business is exposed to liability claims everywhere you turn, and it’s important you get the right protection if you want to thrive. 

Give Rhino a call on 0116 243 7904 today to get the ball rolling, or check out our almost-instant quote generator.


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