The insurance industry: Supporting SMEs to prosper

Posted on: 26 July 2018

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SMEs are a key part of the UK economy and together they account for 60% of all private sector employment and 51% of its turnover.

It’s important these businesses are supported by the insurance industry in order to maximise their potential for trading successfully over the long-term.

This report looks at the challenges and threats that SMEs have identified as the ones that concern them most. Pleasingly, the results underline the role insurers and brokers can play in providing advice and expertise to SMEs across a wide range of issues.

Let’s work together to ensure SMEs remain a powerful and important part of the UK economy and they understand through positive experience, the range of expertise the insurance industry has to offer.

SME sector by numbers

  • 99.9% of the UK's 5.7m private sector businesses are SMEs
  • 99.3% are small businesses (0-49 employees)
  • £1.9 trillion was the combined annual turnover of SMEs – 51% of all private sector turnover
  • 16.1 milion people are employed in the SME sector – 60% of all private sector employment
  • 23% growth in the number of small employing businesses since 2000
  • 26% growth in the number of medium-sized employers since 2000

An independent survey of 500 SME business leaders commissioned by Allianz identified the top five challenges currently concerning senior decision makers.

Click for more information on each challenge:

Our research amongst 500 SME decision makers revealed what they believe to be the biggest threats facing their business.

Click for more information on each threat:

Brokers supporting their SME customers

Our research shows there is a clear opportunity for brokers to work with their SME customers to help them prosper commercially. Here are some areas where brokers can provide expertise to help SMEs mitigate risks to their business.

Setting up a risk register and reviewing it annually

This can be time-consuming but it is a powerful exercise which helps reduce the chances of falling foul of a risk. To do it properly, an SME owner should speak to people across the business and be prepared to spend a day reviewing and planning.

Putting together a business continuity plan

Having an effective business continuity plan should be regarded as a key component for running a successful business.

To an SME owner this can feel like deadtime, because they feel on top of the situation but it should be regarded as a key business exercise. By understanding the possible risks and how the SME would need to respond to them, it will help identify ways to strengthen the business operationally.

Talk intangibles

SME owners are generally aware when it comes to many of the physical risks they face, but it’s also worth highlighting some ofthe more intangible risks such as the death of a key member of staff, or a regulatory investigation. Insurance products such as keyman and D&O can help manage these exposures.

  • Only 45% of SMEs believe they have identified all the risks facing them in 2018
  • Just 50% of SMEs say they fully understand the risks facing them in 2018
  • 50% of SMEs would welcome further information from an expert source about the risks facing their business. 


Support from Allianz

The SME sector is key for the UK economy and at Allianz we are keen to offersupport through the broker channel.

Support can come in a number of ways. As well as engaging with brokers through industry events, we also provide risk management advice and insight into emerging risks.

We also engage with other parties such as the Association of British Insurers, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure our own knowledge on key issues is accurate. Sharing knowledge and research with brokers can help them develop their own businesses as well as support their SME clients.

We have also developed products and services to provide tailored insurance cover for SMEs. For example, as well as streamlining the application process, we have also removed the use of average on our SME products.

As SMEs’ needs evolve, so will the support we provide to our brokers to ensure that these businesses remain a powerful and important part of the UK economy.

This online survey of 500 senior decision makers of SMEs was commissioned by Allianz and conducted earlier in 2018 by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society code of conduct.