750,000 managers of Britain's SMEs kept awake with worry as downturn bites

Article date: 17 September 2008

  • Norwich Union launches dedicated business protection web site in response to growing demand

Just under 750,000 managers of SMEs (one-in-six) across the UK are stressed to the point of regularly waking in the middle of the night worrying about their business according to figures released today by Norwich Union Business Protection. Findings from the Norwich Union Business Protection survey show that a market downturn and customers defaulting on payments are the main causes of stress, cited by 46% and 30% of SME (small/medium enterprise) owners respectively. 23% said they were additionally concerned by rising utility bills.

As anxiety over market conditions intensifies, managers are increasingly looking to negate those risks that are within their control. As a result 45% of respondents now have some form of business protection insurance covering, amongst other things, the salary or life of a key employee. This compares with only 38% who have their own life insurance and 20% with health or dental insurance. 61% of respondents have cover for premises or equipment. 

When asked to rate the most important insurance product for their business, nearly five times as many managers of SMEs thought it was more important to protect against the loss of a key employee than insure their own life. 15 times as many owners believed business protection insurance was more important than health/dental insurance - although less than half have actually taken out Business Protection cover.

Trevor Bailey, director of protection at Norwich Union, commented:  "The recent growth in demand for business protection is impressive, but the potential is extraordinary: the market for life cover alone is estimated to be in excess of £500bn*. But confusion reigns with nearly 75% of those surveyed admitting to a lack of understanding about business protection cover and products."

To help advisers meet the demand of this growing market of renewals and new business, Norwich Union has launched a dedicated online Business Protection Toolkit, which includes advice and guidance on the products available. The toolkit can be found at www.nubusinessprotection.com (link is no longer active).


For more information, interviews with spokespeople or case studies please contact:
Natalie Orringe/Scott Learmouth 020 7438 9400 or norringe@teamspirit.uk.com

Notes to editors:

Norwich Union
Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer. It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest Financial Adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK. Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 14%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media

To find out more about the Norwich Union Business Protection Toolkit go to www.nubusinessprotection.com (link is no longer active).

Norwich Union Business Protection survey
Research was completed by Continental Research during Summer 2008. Interviews were conducted with 301 managing directors, financial directors and other senior managers of SMEs in the UK. All interviews were carried out from Continental Research's telephone unit in central London. The agency is IQCS approved, its interviewing procedures meeting MRS industry approved standards. To further ensure quality standards were met all interviewers were fully supervised throughout the field period and a proportion of their interviewers independently monitored. Weighting was applied by turnover, region and industry sector to make the sample representative of the total number of SME's as estimated by BERR (formally the DTI).

According to BERR small business statistics, there are 4.4 million SMEs in the UK (www.dtistats.net/smes/200612/index.asp - Link removed as no longer active). 16% of respondents stated that they regularly wake in the night as a result of business worry.

* the potential market for life cover amongst SMEs was estimated to be in excess of £500bn by Swiss Re in 2005.  


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