UK SMEs are urged to complete a risk assessment after new research reveals that one-third of businesses do not have a policy in place.

A report from global insurer Hiscox reveals the extent to which small businesses could be vulnerable to financial costs and loss of customers as a result of injury and property damage.

Hiscox surveyed 1,500 business owners and decision-makers to determine how SMEs in the UK treat risks to the public. The insurer used the findings to underpin its inaugural Risk Readiness Report, a resource designed to inform UK businesses about health and safety regulations.

The findings show that a third of SMEs wait over a year before revising their risk assessment policies. The Health and Safety Executive recommends that businesses review their risk assessment policies annually.

25% confirmed they do not prioritise health and safety

This trend is corroborated by nearly one in four businesses (24%) failing to purchase public liability insurance. This protects businesses from the legal and compensation costs of injuries and property loss or damage. The lack of coverage means that employees and customers of SMEs may be unnecessarily exposed to risks.

The report also reveals the cost of accidents and damage to SMEs. In the last 12 months, the average SME has experienced an average of 3.2 accidents involving a member of the public, with each accident costing an average of £17,185 in compensation.  

Potential consequences for business leaders whose companies have been involved in accidents go beyond the financial. According to the survey, businesses have also experienced a reduction in performance indicators (34%) and material solvency (29%), and difficulty attracting new customers (28%).

Nick Thornhill, Direct and Partnerships Director at Hiscox, comments:

“We remind business leaders to regularly review their current health and safety processes and ensure they are taking all necessary precautions to protect themselves, their employees and their customers.

“The last few years have been difficult for businesses, and any unanticipated costs as a result of accidents will only add to this. Having public liability insurance along with an up to date risk assessment, protects businesses against the cost of compensation, as well as the legal expenses associated with a claim. A risk assessment policy, renewed and updated at least annually, can help to mitigate potential hazards and create a safer space for all.

“We hope business leaders can use the findings in our Risk Readiness Report to further improve the health and safety of their businesses.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.