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Everything fine? Reassess to avoid complacency traps

  • Adroit Insurance and Risk
  • September 9, 2022

When a business is travelling well it can be difficult to contemplate everything that might go wrong, or to even think about left-field events that could turn fortunes upside down.


“Optimism bias” can play a role, with people often wanting to believe that problems which have affected rivals and other businesses, or disasters that have hit elsewhere in the country, are unlikely in their circumstances.


The psychological tendency to look on the bright side was explored 40 years ago in a US study that found college students believed their chances of experiencing negative events, such as developing a drinking problem or getting divorced, were lower than their peers, while believing their chances of positive outcomes, such as owning a home or living into old age, were higher.


Data recently released as a bonus chapter from the Vero SME Insurance Index finds that the majority of SMEs consider themselves either “partially covered” or “mostly covered” by their policies. But those findings suggest an acceptance of some risk, and survey responses also reveal a high degree of complacency.


More than a third of the SME respondents to the survey indicated they didn’t have a plan if the worst was to happen, 34% didn’t believe their business would incur losses that would cause a problem and 30% simply hadn’t thought about it and were prepared to cross that bridge when they had to.


Those who have considered a negative scenario, in circumstances where they know they aren’t completely uncovered, are gambling with some dire consequences.


Options might include cutting operational costs, such as changing full-time work to part-time, or selling some assets, but also extend to temporary closures, shutting down completely or selling the business.


The index canvasses the views of SMEs that purchase most of their insurance through brokers, those who buy direct and businesses that acquire some of their policies with advice and some without.


Broker clients are more likely to have the benefit of complete cover from their insurance, and if they are shouldering part of the risk themselves are more likely to have a plan for how they will respond to negative events.


The difference becomes more pronounced when looking at SMEs that buy more than 90% of their insurance through a broker. The data shows 60% of consistent broker users believe they are completely covered, compared to 42% of light or moderate broker users. At the same time, SMEs that mostly use a broker are more likely to have a plan for major negative incidents.


The figures illustrate the value in using a broker for all insurance so the adviser has greater visibility of the SME’s overall risk profile.


Hoping for the best or taking a passive approach to potential risks has long proven a pathway fraught with danger. Talking with an expert offers a better way forward. There’s no value in just hoping for the best – give us a call and we’ll show you how we can help you confront your business risks and deal with them.

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