Commercial property insurance

Protect your livelihood from lots of little disasters. Compare commercial property insurance and find a policy that suits you.

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Commercial property insurance is just like home insurance but for non-residential buildings. It can help in lots of costly scenarios, such as flood, fire and vandalism.

The best bit? Commercial property insurance can be tailored to suit your exact needs. So no matter what your business property looks like, there's appropriate cover available.

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Speak to a broker: An expert broker will get back to you with advice

Should I speak to a broker?

We think so. While we don't want to tell you what to do, commercial property insurance and business insurance are both pretty complicated areas.

Brokers are trained to make these things easier to understand, so you know exactly what you're paying for and don't end up disappointed further down the line.

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If you are ready to speak with a consultant about different business insurance options available, simply enter your details in the form. Keep reading if you want to learn more about the different types of cover available.
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What is commercial property insurance?

Commercial property insurance, sometimes called commercial building insurance, protects the building that a business operates from. It covers the main structure of the building. That's the roof, walls, ceilings etc.

In some cases, commercial property insurance will also protect the things inside of a business, such as fixtures and fittings, machinery and equipment or stock. This is most useful for people who run a business from a property they own.

Typically, commercial property insurance comes as part of a complete business insurance package. That way, you get cover for more risks, such as legal liability, cyber crime and business interruption.

However, if you're a landlord and you lease your commercial property out to another business, you may benefit from landlord insurance or standalone commercial property insurance.

What does commercial property insurance cover?

Commercial property insurance covers the building from which a business operates. In some cases, it also covers the contents of the building.

Here are some examples of what commercial property insurance might cover:

  • The roof, walls and ceilings
  • Glass and doors
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Equipment and machinery
  • Stock
  • Furniture
  • Decorative items
Always check the PDS carefully and/or speak to a broker for advice. PDS can vary significantly between different insurance companies.

What situations will commercial property insurance cover?

Commercial property insurance will help in lots of different situations. Some common examples include:

  • Storm damage
  • Fire damage
  • Water damage – for example, from a burst water pipe
  • Flood damage (although this may be optional)
  • Impact – for example, from a fallen tree or crashed car
  • Vandalism
  • Accidental damage (this may be optional)
  • Machinery breakdown (this may be optional)

Check your policy's definitions

The definition of buildings and contents includes all tangible property that belongs to you, or for which you are legally responsible, or for which you have assumed the responsibility to insure. However, the definition generally excludes things like stock, money, jewellery, works of art, watercraft, aircraft, vehicles or trailers registered or licensed to travel on a public road, livestock and features like bridges and railway tracks. Check the PDS of each policy closely to make sure you know exactly what items are included in your policy.

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Traps to avoid when getting cover

There are a number of common mistakes to avoid when purchasing commercial property insurance:

  • Not updating cover. Many business owners forget to update their policy to accurately reflect the increased value of their business property, whether this is due to renovations or simply rising building costs. As a result, these businesses are under-insured. If the cover is updated annually, some policies won’t be updated to reflect a business's increase in turnover.
  • Not aware of exclusions. There’s a reason we keep telling you to study the PDS closely and that’s so you know exactly what your policy covers. If you’re not aware of what is excluded from your policy, you could get a nasty surprise when the unexpected occurs.
  • Underestimating. Many business owners also underestimate the cost they need to insure, from misjudging the cost required to reinstate a building, to failing to allow for the cost of replacing machinery.
  • No business interruption insurance. This insurance is designed to help cover the loss of income a business suffers when it is unable to trade due to an unforeseen event. While it’s useful cover that can stop companies going bust, the percentage of businesses that have this type of insurance is quite small.
  • Not getting advice. Insurance is complex at the best of times and commercial property insurance can be particularly confusing. Get expert advice from an insurance broker to get the coverage you need.

How much commercial property insurance do I need? Determine the value of the property

When determining how much cover you need, remember the aim of commercial property insurance is to return your property to the same financial position it was in before the insured event took place. In order to assign a coverage amount to a property, there are two ways to determine the value of that property: actual cash value and replacement cost.

The actual cash value is the present-day value of a property. That figure is arrived at by calculating how much it would cost to replace a property, then deducting for depreciation caused by wear and tear.

The replacement cost method calculates the replacement cost of the property as new, rather than at its depreciated value. This figure can be very different to a property’s real-world market value. Location is a particularly important consideration in this method.

Many brokers recommend using the replacement cost method to calculate how much cover you need, but speak to an expert to get tailored advice for your situation.

How do I compare commercial property insurance?

Below are the features of business insurance policies you should compare to help find suitable cover:

  • Range of losses covered. Does your policy cover a large variety of events and situations or are there exclusions you feel should be included in your cover? You can also take into account the location and type of your business when comparing this feature.
  • Range of additional benefits. Added cover options can make a big difference to your level of cover. From covering professional fees to repair your business, to restoring computer data after a machinery breakdown, compare the different benefits offered by each policy.
  • Exclusions. All policies feature many exclusions, so check if they are things you can do without or whether they represent essential coverage for your business.
  • Conditions for benefit payment. Read the fine print to make sure what conditions are attached to your policy to determine if and when you will receive a benefit payment in different situations.
  • Policy excess. As with any other type of insurance cover, consider what excess you’ll have to pay if you make a claim.
  • Actual cost of the cover. Are the premiums reasonable or expensive? Don’t be sucked in to buying the cheapest coverage available without checking if it’s right for you.
  • Premium payment flexibility. How often do you have to pay premiums on each policy? Find a policy that offers a payment plan that suits your financial situation.
  • Cooling-off period. How long do you have to change your mind if circumstances change or you decide a policy is not right for you.
  • Policy inflation indexation. Is the policy indexed to reflect inflation or is there a danger of you ending up under-insured?
  • Policy cancellation. How easy is it to cancel your policy? Are there any fees or other drawbacks involved?
  • Maximum level of cover provided. Consider whether each policy’s maximum level of cover is enough for your business? Will you be able to restore your business to its former financial state when disaster strikes or will the policy fall short of what you need?

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What things won't commercial property insurance cover?

Commercial property insurance won't cover anything that isn't a physical risk. That includes business interruption, cyber crime and legal liability.

Thankfully, you can combine commercial property insurance with other types of cover, to create reliable and effective business insurance. You can request quotes for business insurance via Finder or speak to one of our broker partners for more help.

However, even with the most comprehensive of business insurance policies have exclusions. Some common ones are:

  • Your own criminal or reckless acts
  • Gradual deterioration
  • Poor maintenance or neglect
  • Damage from termites and vermin
  • Unexplained shortages
  • Design errors and faulty workmanship
  • Government-approved demolition
  • Rust or mould

Learn more about the different types of business insurance available in Australia

Commercial property insurance pros and cons

Pros

  • Commercial property insurance can help keep your business afloat should you suffer from a one-off event.
  • Disaster can strike at any time and this insurance gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re covered against the unexpected.
  • If your property or contents are damaged or lost, your cover will help you replace or repair these assets.
  • Additional cover options can help you take care of the cost associated with repairing and reinstating your business.

Cons

  • Exclusions applied to policies. Many exclusions apply to commercial property insurance policies, so it can be difficult to find the right policy for you.
  • Complex terms and conditions. Reading PDS documents for these policies can be quite confusing, so it may be a good idea to get help from an insurance adviser.
  • Differences between policies. Cover can differ greatly from one policy to the next, so don’t assume that every policy will include the same features.

Consider all of these questions when shopping for commercial property insurance and speak to an expert to get tailored advice and the right cover for your business.

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