Why SMEs Need Insurance to be Sustainable

why SMEs Need Insurance to be Sustainable

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the region have experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, accounting for 96 percent of firms in ASEAN member states (ASEAN SME Policy Index). This is despite tough conditions such as increased political risks, higher business costs and a tighter labour market making it more difficult to attract the right talent.

As the business landscape across Asia-Pacific rapidly changes and expands, SMEs are exposed to even greater risks. Increased globalisation has created a greater need for business travel; workplace health and safety regulations have become more stringent; and cyber-attacks are now a common threat for businesses of all sizes. A recent Frost & Sullivan study commissioned by Microsoft revealed that, in 2017, cybersecurity threats cost organisations in Singapore US$17.7 billion in economic losses. The study also reported that one in two organisations (53%) in Singapore have either experienced a cyber-attack, or are unsure if they had a security incident. Across Asia Pacific, potential economic losses due to cyber security breaches can amount to a staggering US$1.745 trillion, more than seven percent of the region’s total GDP of US$24.3 trillion. However, despite these significant figures and increased risks, many SMEs are inadequately equipped with sufficient insurance coverage to keep their businesses afloat should a fortuitous event occur.

The need for adequate insurance to help businesses grow and succeed in the region has never been greater.

So how does insurance support the growth of SMEs?

  • It plays a significant role in risk management by mitigating threats. Although most SMEs have insurance such as public liability to satisfy contract conditions or landlord requirements, many don’t have adequate insurance policies that indemnify them against other financial or asset losses.
  • It provides much needed financial support for complex business exposure risks, such as reputational risks, trade secret risks, political or regulatory risks.
  • It is crucial for sustainability. SMEs are unable to afford large losses caused by business interruptions or closures, loss of income, supply-chain delays or damage to neighbouring properties.

For SMEs, insurance premiums may seem high and insurance coverage complex, with many SME owners not having a proper understanding of the risks, or how underinsurance or having no insurance can be catastrophic to them. In 2015, the highest claim was S$214,000 made by a medical clinic in which a water pipe had burst and caused extensive damage. These businesses may not have been able to withstand the financial impacts had the right insurance policies not been in place.

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