Eating in. It’s the new dining out. Or is it the other way round?
Whatever side of this very ‘now’ fence you’re on, if you’ve set up your own supper club, you’ll be familiar with the grey area your business sits in. The burning question is, where does your hobby end and a professional business begin? Nuanced as it is, getting insurance for your supper club can be tricky. The industry could do with catching up, and many insurers will be unfamiliar, and therefore uncomfortable with your progressive, albeit rather left-field business activities.
Insurance at Simply Business is rather more clued-up, with supper clubs on the radar for some time. So I’ll try and explain here how insurers will look at you, what they’ll expect you to have in place, and how to get the right type of cover for your business.
So, how would you classify yourself? And how would we classify you?
At Simply Business we’ve classified the supper club and underground restaurant community into three main categories – categories that insurers will understand. As a broker, we’re able to talk to all sorts of different insurers, to glean perspective. Not all insurers will be able to cover your business, but we’ve found a few that will potentially take you on board.
Which of these fits you?
A supper club owner is passionate about food and entertaining guests in their own home. They open up their dining room once or twice a month and typically invite up to 10 guests over for an evening of food and entertaining. They don’t usually employ staff and don’t see themselves as a business. Often the landlord doesn’t know, let alone the council. Some supper club owners amend their home insurance; most of them aren’t insured. How, then, is it different from a regular dinner party? The bill. Guests will be charged a fixed amount to dine at a supper club.
Most of the supper club characteristics apply. However, they often have permission from the council, have checks and certificates in place and serve guests up to six days a week. Essentially, underground restaurants are like normal restaurants, but run from home.
An urban phenomenon and particularly popular in London and Manchester, pop-up restaurants are temporary establishments, often in empty shops or other retail spaces. These will move to different locations all year round, and some will be run from a ‘secret’ location, which will appear in guests’ inboxes on the day. These pop-ups will classify themselves as ‘event-driven’ pop-ups.
What cover do you need?
The essential cover for any home catering business is liability insurance. This comes in two forms, the first being Public Liability. This will provide you cover if you cause injury to a member of the public or damage to their property through your business endeavours.
From Michelin Starred chefs to student feeders, everyone makes mistakes in the kitchen. And from food poisoning to slips and spills, insurance can cover against any claims from disgruntled customers. Plus, if you’re taking your food into someone’s home or workplace this kind of insurance will protect you if you manage to cause any damage to the property.
Up next, Employers’ Liability. You may be starting out with the intention of working alone but chances are, a large event will come up and you’ll need to bring in outside help. At this point it’s a legal requirement that you carry Employers’ Liability insurance. It will cover you if one of your workers becomes ill, is injured or even killed as a result of working for you.
And because you’re doing something very specific, there are other types of cover to think about, to make sure you’re fully prepared for accidents and mishaps. These include equipment insurance (even if you’re renting), plus cover for stock, loss of income and vehicle insurance, to name just a few. It’s also vital that you double-check your house is insured for the room or area set up for running your business.
Things to look out for
Depending on which category your supper club falls into, insurers will have different requirements. Once you’ve worked out what business you are, follow the relevant pointers below:
Register your supper club as a food business. It’s free, registration can’t be refused, and you can sign up here. The business should also have a food hygiene certificate. If you don’t have one, follow an online course to get one.
Check with your home insurer that you’ll be covered if you bring this type of business into your house. For example, Simply Business would expect damage to contents to be covered by your home insurer. If you’ve got this cover in place already, you won’t need to add it on to your Public Liability insurance.
Insurers will need to know the location, and every time you ‘pop up’ somewhere new, you’ll need to update them. If your pop-up restaurant changes location as often as every week, they’re considered as ‘events’, and will need event insurance. Simply Business doesn’t currently offer event insurance, but we plan to introduce it for pop-ups in late 2014.
You may have the talent and drive to make a great success out of your home cooking. Taking care of your business insurance, though, is the best way to take care of your customers and yourself, to make sure it’s all worth it.
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