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Business property insurance


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Fair-value business insurance

The values declared to the insurer represent the maximum compensation that will be paid out, following a claim.

Values vary based on the property to be insured

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    Buildings can be insured for the cost of rebuilding (materials, labor and architects’ fees), either minus wear and tear or as new (i.e. without a deduction for wear and tear where this does not exceed 25% of the as-new value, depending on the policy). It is also sensible to cover associated costs and losses.

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    Furnishings and equipment

    Generally, a business that has recent equipment will opt to cover its replacement value as new, including any transport and installation costs. Some policies, however, can provide cover for the value of used items (replacement value minus wear and tear).

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    • Raw materials, packaging and supplies: purchase price, including transport and handling costs.
    • Other goods (finished or semi-finished items): purchase price of raw materials and products used, plus manufacturing costs incurred, plus a proportion of manufactured-related overheads.
    • Goods sold but not yet delivered: sale price, minus costs saved for non-delivery.
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    • Raw materials, packaging and supplies: purchase price, including transport and handling costs.
    • Other goods (finished or semi-finished items): purchase price of raw materials and products used, plus manufacturing costs incurred, plus a proportion of manufactured-related overheads.
    • Goods sold but not yet delivered: sale price, minus costs saved for non-delivery.

Declaring changes during the life of the policy

New buildings or equipment, increases in stock levels and more generally, anything that might change the risks and value of the goods indicated when the insurance policy was taken out, must be declared.

Events covered


Fire, explosion and lightning insurance covers damage caused directly to the insured property by these events and the associated rescue operations.

Fire is defined as “combustion involving flames, outside a normal fireplace” and explosion as the “sudden and violent result of compression or decompression of gas or steam”.

These may be damaged by short-circuiting (from a power surge, lightning, etc.), internal fire or explosion occurring inside the device. Optional insurance for accidental damage to electrical and electronic devices covers these risks.

Business owners must take steps to ensure that conditions in the business are safe.

Prevention measures must be appropriate to the characteristics of the business, including the location of the premises, the nature of the construction materials, the use of hazardous materials, the volume of stock held, etc. Thanks to its knowledge of risk and experience of claims handling, Suisscourtage – accompanied, if necessary by an inspector from the company – can provide the business with guidance on preventive measures, such as fire extinguishers, fire detection systems and automatic extinguisher systems (e.g. sprinklers, etc.). These must be designed, installed and maintained in accordance with the regulations recognized by insurers.

Measures of this kind not only limit the risk of fire or explosion, but also help to reduce the cost of insurance.

If stocks vary significantly over the course of the year, it is possible to opt for a flexible insurance package that reflects their fluctuations. Specific examples include adjustable or current-account insurance. Both these packages involve setting a maximum upper limit on the cover provided, which equates to the maximum expected stock level over the course of the year. A provisional premium is calculated on this basis and finalized at the end of the year.

Insurance policies that cover damage to property automatically include cover for storms, hurricanes and cyclones.

They can be supplemented to cover damage caused by the weight of snow on roofs, and hail.

The business’s goods are covered for natural disasters provided it has taken out cover for fire damage or any other kind of property damage.

Fire insurance must also cover damage resulting from acts of terrorism and attacks affecting the insured property. Direct material damage, including contamination and associated immaterial harm, are covered within the limits (insured sum and excess) of the fire insurance provided by the policy. Damage resulting from a foreign or civil war, however, is not covered.

Unlike cover for attacks, this is not automatically included. However, many policies offer the possibility of covering damage following a riot or social unrest.

Generally, damage due to acts of vandalism is only covered if it has taken place inside the premises.

More extensive cover can be arranged to include acts of vandalism affecting the outside of the premises (graffiti, etc.).

The risk of theft can be limited or even avoided, by implementing effective prevention and protection measures. The relevant provisions are described in the policy, along with the conditions under which cover can be provided, such as breaking and entering, use of forged keys, clandestine entry, etc.

This provides cover for damage caused by water, according to the conditions set out on the policy, which generally include:

  • a leak or burst pipe or pipework;
  • overflowing of bathroom fittings or appliances that involve the use of water (boilers, septic tanks, etc.);
  • blocked or broken gutters;
  • water infiltration caused by rain, snow or hail on roofs, terraces, skylights and in some cases, walls.

Depending on the policy, this can also cover other incidents such as frost damage, and leaks from supply pipes used for liquid fuels, for example.

Conversely, cover for water damage does not apply in cases of maintenance failures or if repairs have not been carried out.

  • In addition to the cover described above, additional insurance can be taken out to reimburse the following costs and losses:
  • demolition, clearance and dumping costs, as well as the costs incurred in implementing protective measures ordered by a decision of the administrative authorities;
  • the costs of bringing the property into compliance with regulations;
  • removal and rehousing costs, including storage and redelivery costs, rent for temporary accommodation, etc.
  • reimbursement of building insurance premiums in the case of construction work;
  • fees charged by decorators, design and engineering firms and for technical and engineering inspections;
  • loss of use, i.e. the rental value of the premises that are not able to be used because of the incident (covering the annual value of the occupied premises);
  • loss of rental income: the amount of rent that the insured party may, as the owner, be lawfully deprived of;
  • reimbursement of fees paid by the insured party to their chosen expert;
  • indirect losses: the compensation payable for the incident is increased by a percentage (5 to 10%, for example).

Business documents and electronic resources (files, programs, etc.) and other materials (archives, models, drawings, technical documents, etc.) may be damaged if an incident occurs.

Simple preventive measures can help to reduce the costs of insurance:

  • lock originals in fire-resistant cabinets or boxes, approved by insurers;
  • store copies of them in another building;
  • use an IT provider to back up your data in a data center.

These can be covered by a separate policy or including additional cover. Cover can be provided for:

  • IT-related assets (computer equipment, office equipment and fixed equipment providing computer-related services);
  • restoring computer data following damage (caused by a fire, sabotage, etc.) to computer equipment: data re-entry and processing costs, reconstitution of information, reconstitution of programs and software, etc.;
  • financial losses and costs following malicious acts or human error causing damage to computer equipment and/or the destruction of or damage to the information system and/or data: costs associated with identifying the cause of the incident and cleaning up the system, non-availability of the insured party’s website, re-optimizing the site, bank monitoring costs, costs associated with notifying the authorities of the incident, non-availability of systems, etc.;
  • civil liability arising from the use of information and communications technologies, in particular connected with an incident affecting personal or confidential data;
  • the consequences of an accident or illness affecting one or more people in the business, who have critical skills in the area of information and communications technologies.

This insurance covers accidental, sudden and unforeseen breakdown or destruction of all the equipment and machinery used in the operating premises. It does not, however, include wear and tear, maintenance defects or damage covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

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