- Trade credit insurance can offer many benefits on top of protection against unpaid invoices
- Among them are faster business growth, reduced costs and better funding from banks
- Peace of mind is another benefit - vital amid the current economic turbulence
Many businesses regard trade credit insurance as a must-have investment. With UK business insolvencies running at their highest level for a decade, the financial protection against a major customer collapse that trade credit insurance provides is vital.
But trade credit insurance can do much more for small and medium-sized businesses. Here we uncover five additional key benefits that it can provide:
1. Faster business growth
Trade credit insurance allows order volumes with fast-growing customers to be increased rapidly. If the policy covers the invoices, orders will not need tight credit control while assessing creditworthiness, enabling faster business ramp up.
This benefit is particularly valuable for export customers where checking creditworthiness can be a challenge.
David Edgell, Regional Commercial Manager at Allianz Trade, shares a powerful case study of a UK chemicals firm with an £18m turnover. A client in South America offered to raise orders from almost zero to £7m of product a year - but only on open credit terms. Thanks to its network in South America, Allianz Trade was able to assess the potential client and approve trade credit insurance, enabling the UK firm to quickly increase turnover by nearly 40%.
2. Extra, vital information during RFPs
Getting a tender or RFP can be a crucial opportunity. But can you be sure the contract is really worth winning? And how should it be priced?
Your firm may have been approached not because of great products and services, but because a company’s existing suppliers refuse to do business because of unpaid invoices. A discussion with a trade credit insurer can offer reassurance that this is not the case. If the insurer is happy to extend cover, this implies the business has a sound record of payment.
This information can also be used to fine-tune pricing, a critical issue in industries where fixed-price contracts are standard, such as construction. If the credit insurer is offering 100% cover, this indicates a strong payment history, which means prices offered can be keener, again helping faster business growth. However, if the insurer only provides partial cover, it may be necessary to add a pricing buffer to compensate for possible late payment.
David Edgell comments: “Trade credit insurance allows you to take on additional work safely and securely, whether it’s a new customer or expansion from existing customers.”
3. Reduced costs
Your finance staff can spend a lot of time assessing new customers for credit and monitoring existing ones. Your business may also have to pay to access credit databases. Trade credit insurance can significantly reduce these costs.
Trade credit insurers can also typically handle the collection of overdue accounts - their scale and automation making them highly efficient at this. If the insurer also has an overseas network, these savings can be particularly significant, as a DIY approach to overseas collections can be complex.
For exporters, a policy can also reduce the need to buy letters of credit and the costs of processing them.
One of the most painful hidden costs in credit monitoring is that sales staff often have to spend time assessing their leads for creditworthiness, instead of doing what they do best — winning new orders!
4. Balance sheet and funding benefits
A business that uses trade credit insurance can be more stable - and banks know this. Many firms using trade credit insurance report that banks are prepared to offer better funding terms because of perceived lower risk.
Trade credit insurance also means firms that keep a bad debt reserve can potentially reduce its size. The capital freed up can be used for a much more useful purpose - growth. This can also be more tax-efficient, as trade credit insurance premiums can be offset against tax.
5. Peace of mind in difficult times
The current business environment is proving challenging for many firms that had hoped for faster business growth, but have been hit by higher taxes, rising costs for labour and pricier raw materials.
In addition, shortages of stock or raw materials due to lockdowns in China and other supply chain problems are also impacting growth. The ‘insolvency domino effect means businesses can be dragged down by the failure of a firm which isn’t even a customer or supplier.
In this environment, protecting cash flow is critical. Martin McTague, FSB National Chair, warned in May that: “A worsening late payment crisis is currently threatening the futures of more than 400,000 small firms.”
For many businesses, the collapse of a major customer may be enough to push it into insolvency. Here trade credit insurance not only plays a crucial financial role, but by removing a potential source of business failure, it can also improve peace of mind.