It is important for your business to secure the appropriate insurance.
To understand the type of insurance your business may need, complete the business insurance checklist.
When deciding the type of policy and level of insurance your business needs consider the following:
- How much can your business afford to pay for insurance without impacting profits?
- Does your business have adequate backup for key personnel, if they are unable to work? If so, you may not need key personnel insurance.
- Set a budget for insurance premiums after receiving advice and quotes from brokers or agents.
- Decide which parts of the business are critical to have insurance cover to remain competitive with other tourism businesses.
- Some contract services, such as running tours for schools or delivering corporate event management, may require some types of insurance to be in place, including public liability and professional indemnity.
Also consider engaging in an insurance broker. They are experienced in business insurance and can help you undertake a risk assessment to identify the parts of your business that are most vulnerable and critical to your business continuity plan. The cost of insurance cover may be cheaper if you have undertaken a risk assessment and developed a risk management plan.
To obtain an insurance policy that's best suited to your business needs, it is recommended that you research a range of insurance providers and their products offerings and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to carefully understand what is covered by your insurance policy and under what circumstances.
Types of Insurance
Public liability insurance protects your business against legal liability for any damage or harm caused by your business to customers or the public. A single compensation claim can be high enough to cause your business to close.
Public liability insurance to the value of $10 million is standard in the tourism industry. Your insurance policy should note the range of activities provided by your business. Additionally, if you subcontract any activities, you should ensure that your contractors have adequate Public Liability Insurance cover.
For tourism operators who run their business from home, it's worth noting that a home insurance policy may not cover your business operations. For example, it may exclude:
- public liability for customers visiting your home
- replacement of business equipment
- replacement of damaged or lost stock
- replacement of damaged or loss of goods in transit.
Find out from your insurer or insurance broker if you need additional cover. It may result in higher premiums or a request to upgrade certain services in your home, such as adding a safe. If you don't discuss this with your insurer – it may render your policy invalid.
Business interruption insurance provides compensation if an interruption to the business, such as a natural disaster causes a reduction in profits.
This type of insurance helps businesses:
- maintain anticipated net profit
- pay continuing overheads
- pay key employee wages
- cover any additional working costs.
Keep in mind:
- Some Victorian tourism operators discovered after the 2009 bushfires their level of business interruption insurance did not cover what they thought it would.
- General policies will cover you for an interruption to the business if your property is damaged and you cannot trade. However, in the instance where roads to your business are closed to traffic, and visitors can't get to your business, some policies will cover the resulting loss of trade, while others won't.
- Consultation with insurance advisors has indicated that operators should look carefully at the fine print in their business interruption insurance policy to find out what they are exactly covered for. Most comprehensive policies would cover an insured business under both instances.
- To make a claim, insurers would require an examination of your business financials and, for a claim in the instance of road closures, confirmation of the number of customers unable to get to your premises (for example evidence that roads were blocked by authorities or roads dug up).
Safeguard your staff and customers
Consider the following:
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Be aware of your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
Under the Act, all employers must exercise a duty of care to ensure the safety of staff and visitors when on their property, or undertaking a service provided by the business.
Physical safety and wellbeing
There are many different types of crises. Some will lead to staff and customers feeling fearful for their own safety and some will cause staff to worry about their jobs. In any crisis, there will be a lot of anxiety and you should have a plan on how to reassure staff and customers including regular communications.
Prepare yourself mentally
Your capacity to manage stress can have a big impact on how employees and customers respond to the threat of an emergency.
Taking the time to prepare for a crisis event will improve your mental readiness if a crisis occurs. The best way to do this is to prepare an emergency management plan.
Having an emergency management plan on hand also reassures you that you have resources to manage the event. Regaining some sense of control during an emergency will help reduce uncertainty and anxiety.
How to help staff cope with stress
To mentally and emotionally prepare you and your staff:
- Involve as many staff members as possible in the creation of your emergency management plan. This will build ownership and understanding.
- Include your employees personal needs into your plan.
- Work out how you are going to monitor information on high-risk days.
- Ensure your plan assesses the ability of employees to deal with stress.
- Practice the plan to help you and your employees respond confidently.
- Practice good self-care and healthy habits.
- Stress and fear send hormones to your body that need to be flushed from your system in order for you to relax after the crisis passes.
- Healthy eating, drinking lots of water (and less caffeine), good sleep and exercise enhances your body's ability to reset hormone levels and ease feelings of anxiety.
- Practice noticing your emotions.
- Don't suppress emotions. They are survival messages from your body. If you're feeling anxious, there is a reason.
- Practice tolerating difficult emotions without automatically reacting. This will help you manage stressful emotions caused by disasters.
Things to remember:
- crisis events or times of high risk bring about feelings of anxiety
- professional help is available to support you
- stay informed – access to information will help you respond better
- preparing an emergency management plan will also help you cope.
Where to get help
If at any time you're worried about your mental health or the mental health of your employees, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Reach out to these services to get the help you need:
- Your doctor
- Your local community health centre
- A counsellor
- A psychologist
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Parentline Victoria on 13 22 89
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- Nurse-on-Call (expert health information and advice 24/7), call 1300 606 024
Promote family and individual preparedness
Encourage your employees and their families to develop plans at home. If individuals are prepared at home, they'll have more time to assist with a business's recovery after a disaster.
Keep your guests informed
Under the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, you must exercise a duty of care to ensure the safety of guests when on your property.
This is likely to include making them aware of the natural risks or hazards around your business and surrounding areas. Visitors will feel reassured that the site is acting responsibly and consideration has been given to their safety.
All communication should consider any special needs of your visitors and cater to those who speak a language other than English.
Prepare information for guests such as:
- what to do in an emergency
- where evacuation meeting points are located
- relevant emergency contact numbers.
This information could be:
- displayed on a board at reception
- handed out to guests in the form of a flyer found in a visitor information book
- notice displayed on a door
- instructions communicated to participants on an outdoor tour (these instructions should be written down somewhere).
If your business is part of your residence, your instructions to staff or family could be placed in your Operations Manual and incorporated into staff training.
You'll also need to consider how you will communicate updates to your clients.
Prepare your property
Dedicate time to protect your physical assets from emergencies. Whether you rent or own your business premises, you should inspect the physical building and assess the impact an emergency could have on your facilities.
There are many things you can do to protect your property. Some are simple and temporary, while others involve permanent structural work.
In high-risk areas, consider investing in infrastructure that will make your property more resistant to the relevant natural hazard. If you live in a flood prone region, consider installing flood protection products.
Always use qualified maintenance staff or licenced contractors.