Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers has prepared the following Frequently Asked Questions, containing the questions we have been posed since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, insurers have chosen to release updates on their policies individually rather than as a group or via the Association of British Insurers (ABI), and at different times, with some reacting very quickly and others less so. For this reason our communications have been kept generic in nature. This information does not replace bespoke, individual advice and we would encourage you to contact us to discuss your individual questions and the implications on your cover.
What happens if my building becomes unoccupied now?
Insurers’ definition of unoccupied differs from what we would normally consider as unoccupied. Insurers will consider a building unoccupied if it is not visited for a certain period of time, normally around 30 days (if you are a school, this is amended for holiday periods but not during term time), and often even if only part of a building is unoccupied. After this period cover can be restricted, often automatically, and certain conditions are put in place to manage the increased risk. Most (not all) insurers provided great leniency around this condition throughout the lockdown periods; however some have now begun reverting back to applying this condition in its traditional sense. If you are unsure how you should comply with your unoccupied building, please get in touch with us.
The same comment is applicable if you are a marina or boatyard.
I have stopped regular maintenance of my buildings during COVID-19. Will that invalidate my buildings insurance?
There is likely to be a “reasonable care” condition within your policy, requiring you to maintain your buildings and take reasonable care. Again, most insurers provided an element of leniency towards this condition during the lockdown periods, but they are largely now requesting that this condition is adhered to.
If I return to site and I want to take my child to work, am I insured?
Yes, but insurers will want to see some risk management procedures, such as:
a) Risk assessing and ensuring the site is safe for the child to be in
b) Following Government guidelines around self-isolation and third party visitors
What cover do I have for working from home?
You do not need to arrange for additional Liability insurance providing you do not have business visitors visiting your home regularly. You may however have significant amounts of organisation owned computers and contents at home, and you may need to inform insurers of this to ensure cover extends outside of your normal place of work. Some insurers have now agreed to extend cover to employee’s/volunteers homes without charge or the need to notify them, for the period of the pandemic.
I have travel insurance. Am I insured for cancellation of international trips?
Insurers are continuing to cover costs if you were to become ill from COVID-19 either prior to a trip or whilst on that trip. In terms of cancellation costs due to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office telling you not to go, this generally wouldn’t be covered, as most insurers are drawing the line at “all but essential” travel for their cancellation covers.
I have read that there is an increase in cyber attacks following people moving to remote working
Unfortunately there is evidence of a significant increase in cyber attacks. Existing cyber insurance should cover these attacks, subject to normal terms and conditions of the policy, and if you wish to discuss cyber insurance please get in touch. CFC have created a guide for working from home, which can be found here.
I am considering reducing the number of staff I employ; do I need to tell insurers?
If you have Directors & Officers/Employment Practices Liability insurance or Legal Expenses, it will be a condition of these policies to notify insurers prior to certain HR actions including redundancy. We strongly recommend the insurers advice helpline is contacted prior to any actions, or please contact us to discuss further. Most insurers are being more flexible around furlough, but would expect you to notify them at renewal of the actions you have taken to furlough employees.
If your insurance policy comes with an employment helpline, you may want to make use of this helpline during the furlough process.
Do you anticipate insurance premiums increasing due to COVID-19?
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, insurance premiums have been increasing, with the financial results of insurers mostly deteriorating in the last couple of years. Whilst most organisations will be unable to make a claim, the ABI still estimate the costs to insurers to be over £1bn in claims, and this is before you consider lost and reduced premiums as cover is cancelled or slimmed down. You should therefore budget for insurance to increase in the coming months. At this stage it is not possible to estimate by how much, but it is still the case that the UK has one of the most competitive insurance markets in the world, which should help keep increases down.
If I am found to be legally liable to someone for catching coronavirus, am I covered by my insurance policy?
It will not be possible for insurers to exclude cover under the Employers’ Liability section of any policy should you be legally liable to someone employed by you for catching coronavirus. Your Employers’ Liability policy will cover both defence costs and any awards made against you. Most insurance policies will cover you for third parties including pupils and clients for any similar legal liability claims. However, most insurers have now excluded claims brought against you for coronavirus from their Public Liability policies. We strongly disagree with this stance but we have had little choice in accepting this exclusion as it has become commonplace. Insurers will not be able to exclude cover retrospectively.