A man holding a compass explaining business insurance to the self-employed entrepreneurs

Business Insurance: A Guide for The Self-Employed

The thrill of directing yourself as a small business owner is often clouded by the many tasks you have to do.  

Daily operations of any business are all-consuming, and as the owner, you have many other factors to constantly consider, from marketing to managing finances, at the very least. 

Following our guide will give you the necessary insight into what you will need, and provide the foundation for you to begin constructing your plan.

Business insurance is the safety net that will protect and provide for your small business.

Accidents and unexpected events happen too often to leave yourself exposed to fate and unaccountable expenses. 

Business insurance is one of those essential factors for any business owner. Finding the right insurance plan and types of cover needed for your business can almost seem too daunting. Bi-Me understands this and aims to remove as many hurdles from your path to insurance. 

We list below the most essential and common types of business insurance, and briefly explain the most important aspects of each type, such as what is typically not covered under the policy, and what is covered. 

Public liability insurance

Public Liability insurance is designed to protect you and your business in the event an employee, customer, or civilian, is injured or damaged is done to their property due to negligent business activities. 

Public Liability claims are typically made by customers of your business. If your business operations include interacting with any members of the public – your employees, yourself, and your business are at risk.  

As one of the most important types of business insurance, it’s used in a vast number of professions and trades. Insurance policies are based on the individual’s occupation and other operational facts. This is calculated and can be compared through an online quote.  

Public liability insurance: what it typically covers

A brief summary of the general inclusions of Public Liability Insurance: 

  • All sums that the insured is legally liable to pay, due to any claim that is first made against the insured during the insurance period, in respect of bodily injury, death or loss of, or damage to property 
  • Injury to any person 
  • Obstruction, loss of amenities, trespass, nuisance, or interference with any right of way, light, air, or water 
  • Damage to third party property as a result of the spread of fire from the insured property 
  • Movement of motor vehicles – Liability arising in connection with moving a motor vehicle for the continuation of the business 
  • Cross liability 

Public liability insurance: What it typically does not cover

A brief summary of the general exclusions of Public Liability Insurance: 

  • Professional services 
  • Efficacy 
  • Recall 
  • Advertising 
  • Retroactive date (if you didn’t previously have public liability cover) 
  • Deliberate acts 
  • Defective design 

The importance of public liability insurance for small business owners 

There are many different business occupations seeking Public Liability Insurance. We break down the 3 main scenarios of small business owners and the self-employed. 

Home-based office

Accidents happen, all the time. A client can hurt themselves at your premises and the cost could be tremendous, and quite daunting without the protection of your insurance. 

Market stall-holders 

For many markets and craft vendors, a minimum level of Public Liability Insurance is required, due to the customer interactions on private and public grounds. 

Business premises 

Everyone can have peace of mind knowing that the factor of the business is covered, and the people are safeguarded from accidents and unavoidable events. 

A hypothetical scenario of a public liability claim 

In order to better understand the importance of public liability, we have compiled a few hypothetical scenarios to demonstrate how easy it is to encounter an accident or unplanned event within your business operations. 

  1. A client visiting a graphic design business fell down a step that was not clearly marked and sustained a hairline fracture. 
  2. A customer fell and was injured when a stair railing broke at a school. 
  3. A fire that started in a restaurant’s kitchen spread to neighbouring stores, as well as a nearby house that was not insured. 

A business was accused of being negligent after a customer slipped and had to defend themselves in court over a period of six months. 

Business Interruption Insurance

Business Interruption Insurance provides protection from a loss of income and increased costs, that are the result of an insured event (such as a fire, property damage, etc.) 

Business Interruption is designed to assist your business in recovering from the loss of such an event and helps you by paying for ongoing expenses, such as wages or rent. 

Business interruption insurance: What’s typically covered?

What is typically included in Business Interruption Insurance:  

  • Extensions to other premises such as: Contract sites; Storage, transit and vehicles; Prevention of access (Limited cover) 
  • Events in the Republic of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique
  • Business interruption as a result of events defined in the Buildings or Contents section (fire; lightning and thunderbolt; explosion; earthquake; storm, wind, water, hail or snow; aircraft and other aerial devices or articles dropped therefrom; impact by animals, trees, aerials, satellite dishes or vehicles; impact by rocks and boulders; etc.)

Business interruption insurance: What’s typically not covered? 

A brief summary of the general exclusions of Business Interruption Insurance:  

  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), SARS-CoV-2, any mutation or variation of SARS-CoV-2, and any fear or threat of the Coronavirus disease or its mutations
  • Voluntary closures
  • Losses due to breakdown in equipment or machinery  
  • Undocumented income

Contents insurance

Contents Insurance is a type of business insurance that provides cover for the items inside your building. This includes office content, plants and machinery, stock and materials in trade, and miscellaneous items. 

Most insurance companies call these sections “Office Contents” and will protect the items inside your buildings from loss due to fire, weather, natural disasters, impact from animals, and similar events. 

Contents insurance: What’s typically covered?

What is generally included in Contents Insurance: 

  • Property damage caused by: Fire; Lightning and thunderbolt; Explosion; Earthquake; Storm; Wind; Water; Hail and Snow 
  • Increase in Cost of Working 
  • Alterations and misdescription 
  • Capital additions (Limited cover)
  • Landscaping 
  • Locks and keys (Limited cover) 

Contents Insurance: What’s typically not covered?

What is generally excluded in Contents Insurance: 

  • Loss or damage outside the Republic of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. 
  • Designs, patterns, models or moulds 
  • Motor vehicles and motor vehicle accessories 
  • Money, securities, stamps, jewellery or precious stones 
  • Consequential loss 
  • Wear and tear or gradual deterioration 

Portable equipment insurance

Portable Equipment Insurance is designed for business owners that have the equipment and operational items needed to perform off-sight work and other customer services.  

Typical examples include: equipment, tools, laptops, and mobile phones, and can also include items like gate motors, marquees, and musical instruments. Despite the term Portable Equipment, this cover can also include stationery items. 

Portable equipment insurance: What’s typically covered? 

What is generally included in Portable Equipment Insurance: 

  • Loss of or damage to the whole or part of the property while anywhere in the world 
  • Losses as a result of remote blocking 
  • SASRIA (civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism) 

Portable equipment insurance: What’s typically not covered? 

What is generally excluded in Portable Equipment Insurance: 

  • Wear & tear or gradual deterioration 
  • Mechanical, electronic or electrical breakdown, failure, breakage or derangement 
  • Loss of or damage to cash, bank and currency notes, coins, bonds, coupons, stamps, negotiable instruments, title deeds, manuscripts or securities of any kind 
  • Loss of or damage to property and theft from unattended vehicle (unless concealed or in securely locked building and visible signs of forcible or violent entry) 
  • Cleaning, repair, dyeing, bleaching, alteration or restoration 

Professional indemnity insurance

If you work in professional services as a sole-trader then you are personally responsible, both legally and financially, for all aspects of your business. This creates enormous opportunities for risks and liabilities to creep in. 

Professional indemnity insurance is designed to protect you from claims against you and your business, as a result of negligent acts or omissions in providing your professional services or advice. 

These professions could include accountants, architects, consultants, and other types. 

Professional indemnity insurance: What is typically included? 

What is generally covered in your policy for Professional Indemnity Insurance: 

  • An award of legal costs against you    
  • Costs of disciplinary proceedings  
  • Compensation payment as a result of a claim 
  • Defending or responding to the claim at reasonable legal costs 
  • Claim the costs of  investigation 

Professional indemnity insurance: What is typically excluded? 

What is generally excluded in your policy for Professional Indemnity Insurance: 

  • Professional fees    
  • Intentional damage    
  • Dishonesty and fraud   
  • Contractual liabilities   

Self-employed workers and business owners consider professional indemnity highly important  

We’ve all heard the expression in many forms: If you overthink it, you’ll somehow fail.” It’s much the same for professionals and business owners, worrying about the advice or solution you’ve implemented for a client. 

Professional Indemnity Insurance will let you turn down the Worry volume, that your advice will come back and cost more than the regret of a discovered mistake. Because claims can have a significant impact on not just your business, but your reputation and brand. 


Any significant claim, or even minor claim, will have massive costs that come with it. The financial disruption could be the thing that shuts your operation down completely. 

Personal assets could also be at risk without Professional Indemnity Insurance, and your home and other assets could be at risk to cover the costs of the claim. 


Any legal proceeding takes far too much time – too much for a business owner to have to dedicate their time to. 

Professional Indemnity will have a legal professional manage the dealings and process for you while covering the costs of the claim and allowing business operations to continue. 


This is an important arrow in a business owner’s quiver. Reputation, like word of mouth, is a hard-earned medal that speaks for itself. 

Without the opportunity to defend yourself, claims against your reputation could fracture the long bridge between networking and marketing. 

Professional Indemnity will give you the support to defend a claim, and your name.

For more information about Professional Indemnity, head to our Who We Cover page and find out which policy would fit you best.

Need some help with your business insurance? 

Bi-me business insurance covers small businesses and start-ups the way most insurance companies don’t. For us, no policy is too small. With our simplified online process, you can immediately compare and buy the insurance that will fit your business like a glove.  

We’re fiercely committed to the small business community, whether it’s to get a better deal or to assist with a claim. One of our core values is ‘no policy is too small for us’ and we’ll go the extra mile for everyone. 

Our digital journey makes insurance brokerage simple by creating an efficient digital-first solution for buying insurance.  

You can get instant online quotes available 24/7 – for purchasing insurance, making changes to your policy, or getting documents. Our website is mobile-friendly, so you can even add cover while on the move.

This is general information only and does not take into account your financial situation, needs, or specific objectives. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions, and exclusions contained in the policy wording.