Updated Insurance Advice During These Challenging Times

With lockdown continuing and possibly going on for longer than people in business would like, even though we are acutely aware that it is necessary to save lives and help the NHS, we’re getting used to a new ‘normal’.

When it comes to insurance, advice is being updated frequently. However, updates will start to ease off as insurers make their positions on cover clear. For now, these are the latest updates.

1. Temporary Closure of Business/Premises – Update and Risk Management
Most insurers have now confirmed their approach to Temporary Closure. Some are extending full cover until the end of June without the requirement to notify them of the unoccupancy, others are saying that full cover will apply until the end of June, but they must be notified after 60 days of unoccupancy. There is no set rule, so talk to your insurer/broker to establish what applies to you.

Insurers are asking that you comply with their Risk Management Requirements during unoccupancy. Again, these may vary between insurers so check with your insurer/broker. If you cannot comply with their requirements, then you must discuss this with them.

The following are some of the main requirements:

Waste: Internal and External Waste should be removed and relocated to a secure area, ideally at least 10 metres from the building. If this is not possible and bins and skips are within 10 metres, these should have lockable lids.
• Fire Systems: Ensure that any fire and/or sprinkler systems are fully operational.
• Fire Doors: Ensure that all internal fire doors are closed.
• Building Utilities: Shutdown any non-essential electrical devices and building utilities.
• Inspections: Where possible, arrangements should be made for a weekly internal and external site inspection, with guidance sought as to whether this can be supported whilst adhering to social distancing.
• Physical Security: Ensure doors and windows are locked, shutters are in place and gates are locked.
• Intruder Alarm: Make sure your intruder alarm is set and that the remote signalling is in place.

2. Statutory Inspections
The HSE have said that they will keep the situation under review and do not have any plans to issue any exemptions to the current regulations at this time. They confirm that if an examination of a piece of equipment is overdue, the responsibility remains with the you, the duty holder, and a pragmatic approach should be adopted.

Engineer surveyors have been identified as ‘key workers’ permitted to continue inspections in critical industry sectors and the supply chains that support them, namely:

• Health care settings (hospitals, GP practices and essential NHS hubs) and pharmacies
• Schools used for essential workers childcare
• Services and utilities (power, gas, water, sewage, waste)
• Retail, manufacturing, port services and transport serving essential provisions (food, medical supplies, fuel etc.)
• Maintenance and repair serving essential provision, as above
• Social/economically vital sites and services (construction, large employers)
• Essential commerce including government/local councils and banking

If your business does not fall into one of these categories but you are still working with machinery due for inspection shortly, then it would be sensible to have a chat with your engineer surveyor.

3. Motor Vehicles
The ABI have stated that if you are using your car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries, your cover will not be affected and there is no need to update your insurers.

Your insurance policy will still be valid if you have to drive to your workplace because of the impact of Covid-19. Additionally, if you work in one of the critical sectors listed by the government and you need to use your own car to drive to different locations for work purposes because of Covid-19, your cover will not be affected. You do not need to contact your insurer to update your documents or extend your cover. Please note that this only applies to Private Motor policies and not Commercial Vehicle or Fleet policies.

If your business has temporarily closed and vehicles are no longer being used, you may wish to reduce cover (usually to Accidental Damage, Fire and Theft). However, I would stress that unless you are 100% certain the vehicle(s) will not be moved or driven, you should maintain full cover.

It may be necessary to lay-up vehicles, in which case you must make a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification – www.gov.uk/make-a-sorn) and the vehicles will be removed from the MID. Many insurers will expect vehicles to be kept in a securely locked compound possibly with a specified distance required between parked vehicles to help cut the risk of fire spreading between them.

As soon as any further updates become available, I will let you know. Meanwhile, if you have any queries or concerns, then please get in touch. And if you’re not already a client but need help in protecting your business during these unsettling times, do contact me. I’m here to help.