Sky-high vehicle insurance rates are bringing a Lancashire firm’s expansion plans screeching to a halt, a young business owner has claimed.
Entrepreneur Josh Skorczewski said he has been quoted premiums of more than £10,000, pricing him out of driving for his own company.
The 21-year-old and his similarly aged business partners at Advantage Productions UK fear the firm may have hit a glass ceiling through no fault of their own.
Josh, who has recently passed his driving test and has made no insurance claims in that time, told The Gazette: “We’re having to struggle on because we simply can’t afford that much each year.”
The firm – based in Newton-with-Scales – is a PA system and event technology service, providing sound and lighting equipment for gigs and festivals across Preston and Blackpool.
Josh said: “We have been relying on ‘man with van’ companies to help us transport the equipment but as we grow the systems we’re using are getting bigger. And as our reputation grows, we’re doing larger events.”
Josh enquired about gaining personal vehicle insurance for business use so the company did not have to rely on third-party transport.
But, because of his age and him being an inexperienced driver, he and his business partners were quoted five-figure sums.
He said: “We’re all in our early 20s and have passed our driving tests within the last 12 months. We just can’t afford those prices.We’re just going to have to struggle on as we are as we can’t see another way. The systems we’re operating now require two Sprinter vans, to give an idea of how large they are, and it’s becoming more difficult to carry on as we have been doing.”
Advantage Productions pledges to clients they will “have what you need to make your event special.” Having started out as an assignment while Josh was studying at Preston College, it now operates across Lancashire including at local festivals.
Josh said the company has gained a “reputation to be proud of” and has “grown exponentially” since starting out in 2013.
But their recent predicament has left them scratching their heads for answers.
Josh, who lives in Preston, said: “At first we mostly helped out metal bands, that’s how we started out, but we’ve moved away from that now and are serving some of the biggest local clubs and venues.”
His plight has garnered sympathy from support services for young business professionals, who said it highlights some of the various challenges facing start-up firms.
Both county-based business network Lancashire Boost and the Prince’s Trust charity have offered a helping hand.
County Councillor Michael Green, Cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “The challenges Josh and his colleagues are facing are common for many growing businesses.
“Our message to growing business owners like Josh is that there’s a network of support out there, both in terms of funding and other business expertise.”
Mathew Holt, Head of Enterprise and Awards Programmes for the The Prince’s Trust, said: “This is a perfect example of the unexpected obstacles new businesses are likely to face, and why having the experience of an advisor or mentor is key.”
Insurance research experts Consumer Intelligence say car insurance bills saw a rise five times higher than inflation this year. Premiums for under-25s rose by 11 per cent but they still pay nearly four times more than older drivers at £1,719.