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31 March 2020

Access response to Coronavirus / COVID-19

We want to support you, providing clarity on how your insurance policy reacts to this crisis. We know you will have concerns during this time and we aim to support you as we are able.

Access have been considering the potential impact of Coronavirus on our operations, staff and clients for some time. This has included reviewing and updating our continuity plans, seeking clarity from insurers on the extent to which cover exists for our clients and identifying how we can best protect our staff and clients.

Insurance is intended to protect organisations from known risks which are unlikely to happen to the majority of policyholders, but which will affect a small minority – e.g. a fire or a member of staff who is injured at work. Insurance is designed in this way so that the premiums of the many cover the losses of the few who need to claim.

Insurance is not designed to cover major global risks which affect everyone, i.e. war or global pandemics – and insurers do not collect enough in premiums to be able to cover this type of risk. (By way of demonstration the UK insurance market took £61.2 Billion in premiums last year. Current estimates of the cost of COVID-19 to UK organisations run from £350 Billion+). The size and scale of this crisis necessitate a government-led and government-funded response.

It has been possible to purchase very costly pandemic insurance – although few policies of this nature exist because of the prohibitive cost.

We are able to provide advice on the extent of your cover in relation to COVID-19. We have asked for clarity from all insurer partners on the extent/limitations of the cover they provide in respect of COVID-19.

Cover will differ from insurer to insurer and is completely dependent on the contract wording (policy wording) you have with your insurer. The below is intended to be a general overview of how cover may respond across the insurance industry. Your policy wording must be consulted to establish the cover situation in your specific case.

Business Interruption – some insurers may provide some cover if you are forced to close your premises as a direct result of an incident of COVID-19 at your premises (i.e. a local authority order to close). Many policies will provide no cover for losses arising from loss of revenue as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19.

Public / Employers Liability – there is unlikely to be any cover in place for claims arising from COVID-19. It’s possible a claim could be brought against an organisation for spreading the virus but the claimant would have to prove 1) there was a direct link between the organisation and the source of the infection and that 2) the business failed in their duty of care towards the claimant.

Professional Indemnity – some policies may respond to claims (e.g. failure in care planning – a failure to recognise a service user’s changing condition). Many other professional indemnity policies only cover financial loss and exclude any claims for bodily injury, so no cover would be in place.

Directors & Officers / Trustees Indemnity – some cover may be in place if a director fails in their duty (i.e. fails to follow Government instructions). The vast majority of D&O / TI policies automatically exclude claims for bodily injury.

Personal Accident – these policies exclude sickness and diseases so no cover exists for COVID-19 related claims.

Some organisations are considering reducing/cancelling their insurance until the COVID-19 outbreak subsides. Before taking this action the following points need to be carefully considered:

Buildings

Unoccupied buildings are typically seen as higher risk by insurers because more/worse losses occurring when a building is not in regular use. These losses include:

  • Criminal damage – unoccupied buildings are at higher risk of theft, arson and malicious damage
  • Increased loss amounts – a burst water pipe or storm damage to a roof are two examples of claims which can be made much worse when a building is not occupied as they may not be discovered for several days, by which time significant damage has occurred.

We strongly advise any organisations with buildings to maintain adequate buildings and contents insurance cover.

Public / Employers Liability

  • If you employ staff you are legally required to have EL cover in place
  • If your group is carrying out any work relating to COVID-19 (e.g. assisting the local community, providing support to needy individuals) then we strongly advise you have cover in place.
  • Gaps in cover can cause issues when claims arise; especially claims which are brought against you a significant time after the incident occurred.
  • The timescales of the COVID-19 lockdown are not known. Your normal/reduced activities may be able to resume faster than expected.

Trustees Indemnity and Professional Indemnity

  • Trustee and professional indemnity cover work on a ‘claims made’ basis – you claim on the policy currently in force (not on the policy that was in force when the incident happened). Removing this cover removes protection for all the previous years covered by your policy. (Check your retroactive date for clarity on how far back your cover goes).
  • Cancelling your policy and causing a gap in cover means in future you are unlikely to be able to find any retroactive cover – meaning you won’t have cover for any claims brought regarding incidents which happened before your policy start date.
  • Even if your organisation’s activities have reduced (or temporarily ceased), it is likely your management (trustees/manager/officials/committee) will be making decisions. This cover protects you in the event you make a wrongful decision.
  • If the crisis does lead you to permanently close we advise you arrange at least 12 months ‘run-off cover’ to protect you for any potential wrongful acts which have occurred but where no legal action has yet been brought.

We will continue to be available to support and advise you on your insurance cover, whether you require Coronavirus-related insurance advice or help with other queries.

Should you have any questions, please contact a member of our Client Management Team on 020 8651 7420 or email admin@accessinsurance.co.uk
 

UPDATE FROM ANSVAR – FOR ANSVAR POLICYHOLDERS – JAN 2021

COVID-19 Outstanding risk improvements and unoccupancy

As we find ourselves in another national lockdown we have again adopted a policy of flexible terms for regular maintenance and outstanding risk improvements.

We may have applied terms to a policy for regular maintenance or inspection to be carried out, or specified completion of a risk improvement by a certain deadline that now can’t be met due to Covid. These instances can be put on hold until either:

  • the current outbreak ends, or
  • the availability of contractors changes, or
  • the date the temporary cover enhancement expires

whichever is the sooner, provided all reasonable steps have been attempted to comply with the policy terms, or to complete the risk improvements in part or in whole, given the circumstances at the time.

Unoccupancy

The latest Government guidelines, actions taken by devolved administrations within the UK, and other factors we have had to consider, means we will not be providing the full flexibility to unoccupied premises that we gave before. However, full cover and no additional terms or requirements can be obtained where customers occupy their premises for at least one day in every 30.

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