The New National Lockdowns and The Impact On Insurance
I’ve recently received a report from a business partner insurance firm about the impact of the lockdown situation on general insurance and as it’s such an important series of points they make, just wanted to share it with you today…so, with grateful thanks to Berkeley Alexander, here we go. Hope it helps in some way:
As we enter 2021 with the various national, regional and local restrictions that apply across England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland we felt it was important to remind you of the potential impact this situation has on an insurance policy.
This is even more important during these early months of the year as temperatures can plummet and bad weather is more prevalent. Due to the differences in the restrictions across the UK; in policy terms; and the approach adopted by each insurer, this information is designed as generic guidance only. If there is any doubt, we would always recommend a specific conversation takes place to avoid such doubt.
Unoccupied properties (homes, landlord buy-to-lets or commercial premises)
Every policy carries a definition of when it deems a property to be “unoccupied”, the measures they expect to be taken to protect the property (and its contents) and the potential impact to the policy cover. If an insured property is unoccupied, please check the policy wording for these details and if in doubt, please contact us.
Businesses that are not currently trading “normally”
In addition to the unoccupancy issues mentioned above, if a business premises isn’t being used whilst staff work from home, there are a couple of other things to consider, including:-
• If employees are working from home, is the company equipment (computers, etc) insured under the company policy whilst at employees’ homes;
• Has an adequate health & safety risk assessment been undertaken for staff working from home (remember the employer is still responsible for the working conditions and safety of the person working from home)
• If the business is still trading from its premises but has adapted its business model (for instance a café/restaurant/pub that is now offering a takeaway or delivery service), has the insurer been advised of the change to the business model.
What can be done to protect unoccupied premises during the lockdown?
Again, this will vary between insurers and policies and to individual circumstances, but typically, things that can be done to help protect against claims include: -
i. The premises should be inspected internally and externally at least once per week.
ii. Refuse, waste and any mail should be regularly removed from the premises.
iii. The premises should be fully secured using all protective locking devices available, setting any alarms and activating any CCTV available.
iv. Ensure that where possible gas and electricity supplies are turned off at the mains – except any electricity required to maintain essential building services, alarms or to run computer servers etc. whilst working from home.
v. Where possible, any empty (or if it can be isolated any empty part) of the premises has its water supply isolated at the mains.
vi. If possible that water and heating systems are fully drained-down – this is particularly important for protection of premises during this time of year.
If for any reason — such as ‘shielding’ — these actions cannot be complied with, discuss the individual circumstances so the insurer can be made aware and agree the right course of action.
Please note that the information only applies to premises which are unoccupied due to Government lockdown. Premises which are, or will become, long-term unoccupied, for instance where a tenancy has ended, or the occupier has formally ceased trading, will need to be notified to the insurer for terms to be agreed.