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How to keep your business safe with updated insurance during the COVID-19 crisis

Are you one of the many businesses having to change the way you work to adjust to the current Covid-19 crisis?

Many of these changes could impact your insurance policies. Understandably, notifying me or your insurers probably isn’t top of your agenda. So, I have put together some advice to help you navigate these uncertain times.

Rest assured that I am proactively watching for changes and helping my valued clients, getting in touch when I know a situation will affect your business. If you’re not currently an existing client, you should contact your broker if any of the points below affect you. Or get in touch with me – I’d be delighted to help.

Insurers are reacting at different stages and information is changing constantly. At the time of writing – 9pm on 25 March 2020, these are my suggestions:

1. Diversification into New Products or Markets

If you are making different products or the end user of your current products has changed, it is advisable to run this past your insurer.

Examples I have discussed with clients recently include an engineering comany who were asked to help produce ventilators. This will have an impact on their Products Liability insurance.

Another client is playing a vital part in a local community hub, providing daily hot meals to the elderly. This is not that far removed from their usual activities. However, being on a much larger scale, it involves more volunteers and some changes of processes. All of which have been discussed and agreed with their insurers.

There are also many examples in the media of restaurants and pubs who are now providing a takeaway service. This needs to be notified to insurers as changes to cover will need to be made.

2. Working from Home

Most people are now working from home. A few things to consider:

  • Employers Liability insurance should automatically cover this (assuming work is of a non-manual nature)
  • Employees should update their Home Insurers. This shouldn’t make any difference to their policy if they are only doing clerical activities. It is hoped that the requirement to notify insurers will be removed from policies but for the time being make sure they are updated.
  • If you have provided your staff with IT equipment – laptops, phones, etc – you should have an All Risks section on your policy (Commercial Combined, Business, Office etc) which will cover these items away from your premises and in employees’ homes.
  • Are your networks secure? Cyber criminals are currently exploiting the Covid-19 situation in several ways, one of which is finding vulnerabilities in RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) for homeworkers.
  • HSE have updated their website re Covid-19 and reminded us that Health and Safety responsibilities apply to home workers as well as any other workers. https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm

3. Unoccupied Premises

You may be concerned that your cover will be restricted as your premises may be unoccupied or disused at this time. Some insurers have agreed to keep full cover in place for the next 90 days and have also temporarily removed the requirement to notify them of the unoccupancy. I think more insurers will follow this approach. However, for the time being, I would recommend that you keep me updated and I will liaise with your insurer.

4. Servicing and Inspection of Plant/Machinery

At the time of writing, some insurers are still carrying out statutory inspections of plant as required by HSE. There does not appear to be any guidance yet from HSE regarding plant inspections that may become overdue. You need to consider if a piece of plant should continue to be used if the inspection has not taken place.

I have asked liability insurers for their position on this but there is no clear direction yet. If you have any plant due to be inspected shortly, please let me know. On a similar note, some items of plant and equipment need to be regularly serviced. Again, if this is due to be done but can’t be, please get in touch.

5. Increases in Stock

If your business has temporarily closed, are your stock sums insured still correct? You may have experienced a dip in sales before closing and be holding higher levels of stock.

6. Moved Online

We’ve all seen Joe Wicks this week inspiring thousands of kids to join in with a daily PE lesson. If you normally provide face-to-face services such as personal training, yoga, dancing etc and are now doing this online, remember that you cannot control your client’s environment. Have they cleared adequate space, are they doing the exercises correctly? The risk has changed, so please get in touch to chat it through.

7. MOTs and Insurance

Vehicles (where required) must have a valid MOT; not having this can invalidate your insurance. As a result of the Covid-19 situation, most insurers are saying that absence of an MOT certificate will not invalidate the cover.

However, BIBA (British Insurance Brokers Association) have stated it is important to note that:

  • The vehicle would likely have been expected to have an MOT prior to the Government announcement of March 25
  • Insurers may reserve the right to satisfy themselves that the insured vehicle was roadworthy if an accident occurs, no MOT is available, and the circumstances deem it prudent to do so

If you have any questions about any of the above, or some other insurance concern, then please get in touch. If we haven’t already spoken, I will contact you over the next few days to discuss how you are currently working and what impact this may have on your cover.

If you’re not already a client, then please get in touch and I will help you to protect your business during these unsettling times.