IFM is working to ensure we limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and our team are available to answer any questions you may have. A list of IFM contacts can be found by clicking here
We have also provided some useful information to help you and/or your business through this difficult time.
Insurance and MOTs
It is usually a condition of motor insurance that motor vehicles; where the law states they must, should have a valid MOT and absence of such might cause problems in the event of a claim.
On 25 March Government announced its intention to grant MOT exemption in battle against coronavirus.
The insurers response to the decision to extend MOTs on vehicles is positive. We expect there to be no implications, as long as vehicles remain roadworthy and motorists are not ignoring obvious safety issues.
Motor insurance demands that any vehicle which requires one, must have a valid MOT however most insurers are saying that absence of an MOT certificate in itself, will not invalidate the cover. It is important however to note that:
- The vehicle would likely have been expected to have an MOT prior to the Government announcement of March 25; and
- Insurers may reserve the right to satisfy themselves that the insured vehicle was roadworthy if an accident occurs, and no MOT is available, and the circumstances deem it prudent to do so.
Working from home
With the majority of us now working from home, we should all check that our home insurance policy covers us to do so. Below are some keys points, which should help.
- Working from home, due to the need to self-isolate should be covered by standard home insurance policies, assuming that the work is clerical in nature.
- If individuals are working from home and receiving visitors to their home on business matters, they should check with their insurer. In some cases, there may be some restrictions in cover, such as loss of money and theft being excluded unless there is evidence of forcible and violent entry to the property.
- Business equipment used (e.g. laptop) is likely not to be covered. However, in most cases the employer would be liable for ensuring their equipment is insured away from the office.
- Working from home can present a cyber security risk and your computer could be open to a cyber-attack. Read our top tips to protect against a cyber attack below.
- Ensure laptops and other computer equipment are securely stored when they are not in use.
Cyber-security tips for employees working remotely
To ensure your employees and your business remain protected from cyber hackers, below are some useful tips on mitigating the risk.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi. Using Wi-Fi provides hackers the opportunity to position themselves between the user and the public Wi-Fi router so they can potentially intercept the user’s data.
- Think about using a VPN. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) secure your data as it travels between your company's internal computer network and your employees' remote laptops and desktops. VPN provide additional cyber security by hiding the user’s IP address, encrypting data transfers and hiding the user’s location. Only use a reputable, secure VPN service to access company portals and cloud environments.
- Use up-to-date software. Make sure employees working from home use the latest software updates.
- Be careful when transferring company data. Ensure that all office-issued laptops or other devices are configured to deny access to external storage devices.
- Back up data. Make computer-system backups mandatory within your company and ensure that you are using secure, company-managed online backup services.
Tips for keeping empty business properties safe
With more firms shutting down and employees working from home, vacant properties may carry additional risks for property owners, particularly when left empty for long periods of time. In the current climate this could include offices, shops, factories, warehouses to name a few. The following steps will help keep your business premises safe.
- Install good quality locks and burglar alarms and mobile security cameras
- Keep up a basic level of maintenance on properties where possible
- Ensure utility and electric systems are switched off to reduce the risk of fire or water damage
- Drain all fuel and water tanks and systems
- Arrange periodic inspections to check for signs of intrusion or evidence of damage or disrepair, e.g. water leaks, or potential hazards such as rubble, protruding nails or live wiring
Coronavirus and Insurance
We are already beginning to see the effects of this virus on all types of business. The purpose of this article is therefore to provide some general guidance and possible tips for businesses. Overall Coronavirus is viewed as a business risk rather than an insurance one.
Cancellation cover applies where the Foreign Office advises not to travel. At present this has only been issued for a few specified countries and areas. Disinclination to travel is not insured.
Where an employee was due to travel to a conference or event which is cancelled, Policies will vary as to how they respond because technically it is still possible to travel. At present we have seen the majority of Business Travel Insurers take a practical approach and a reasonable view that if the event is cancelled the Policyholders will be entitled to claim back their hotel and flight costs.
However personal travel insurance policies are likely not to provide the cover as they usually only provide cancellation following specific events, such as illness of a family member.
Policies will provide Insurance Cover against Medical Expenses and Repatriation Costs whilst abroad providing travel was not against Foreign Office advice.
Business Interruption policies will not pay for disruption to your business from any form of disease or illness to your employees, customers or suppliers.
Where Business Interruption policies give cover against notifiable diseases, this will usually only be in respect of specified diseases listed in your policy which will not include Coronavirus. In these circumstances, the recent Government announcement that this is now deemed a “notifiable disease” will not change the position with insurers.
However, certain Business Interruption policies give cover against "notifiable diseases" without specifying them. The recent Government announcement that Coronavirus is now a "notifiable disease" means that these policies may react.
Details are available within your policy documentation however if you do require any assistance then please contact your Account Executive or the office on the details above.
If an employee alleges they have contracted this arising from their employment, such as they were required to travel to a specific area and have caught the disease, this should be immediately reported to your insurer as a possible claim. This will include freelancers working for you at the time it was contracted. Where an employee holds an employer responsible for contracting the disease this would be covered under your policy if you are liable.
Event organisers will generally not have cover against cancellation of events due to Coronavirus.
Business Continuity Planning
Companies should have a plan in force which not only covers fire or water damage to the premises but also other events that could substantially disrupt the business. It is therefore suggested that all companies should review the consequences of premises closure or a substantial number of staff being unable to attend work.
The following are points you may wish to consider, although not all of these will apply to all business.
1. Ensure you have a plan. This should cover pandemic / mass absenteeism from production facilities, head offices and suppliers. It should also cover loss of key suppliers and major supply chain disruption.
2. Identify your crisis team. Depending on the size of your business, this may be a single head office crisis team or a series of local tactical teams around the world reporting into a global strategic team. The teams should comprise people who are very familiar with your business and come from different functions.
3. Assign specific tasks to key members of the team (communications, HR, production, logistics, finance, procurement, etc.)
4. Hold crisis team meetings to fit urgency. This may be several times per day at peak, reducing as the severity passes.
5. Identify clear steps to protect workers.
6. Monitor the progress and impact of the disease and report daily to the crisis team.
7. Develop a protocol for advice to employees if the virus is detected locally or if they suspect they have the virus.
8. Communicate actions to prevent spreading disease.
9. List business critical competencies.
10. Plan how and when you would reduce staff attendance to minimum to enable business to continue.
11. Identify which critical staff can work remotely.
12. For manufacturing companies, identify what are the minimum operational conditions.
13. Identify a plan for ceasing production or a controlled reduction in production.
14. Are there any company locations or key suppliers in higher risk regions?
15. Risk assess decisions to ensure there are no adverse unintended consequences of actions.
16. Identify vulnerable workers (older, pregnant females, others with a history of poor health).
17. Continue to communicate with all staff and stakeholders through all relevant media.
18. Monitor social media and engage with your audience.
19. Reference government advice in communications.
20. Make sure your plan includes steps for recovery, when the worst of the impact has passed.
Report any claims or incident that might give rise to a claim...... when it happens
Why is the message suddenly not getting through?
Our wonderful claims team are the most patient and understanding of souls...usually. Their collective patience knows no bounds...usually. However, there appears to be an epidemic of late reporting of claims at the moment for seemingly no apparent rhyme or reason?
We seem to be receiving an ever increasing number of late reported claims. Some are just where the client hasn’t got around to it or is sited as being too busy etc etc. More worryingly, the majority are where clients are trying to sort things out themselves before telling us and either getting in a complete tangle or find that the amounts being claimed by third parties are much more than they thought.
Whatever the reason, to say all insurers are getting really twitchy with late reporting is an understatement. On every claim that is late reported we have to explain it and try to plead mitigation for the client. Sometimes that is not very easy.
When things are late reported we do make a point of reminding clients that they must get things to us immediately, even if it’s only initially for information. We suspect it’s a case them thinking they helping to keep their premiums down by trying to deal with small claims themselves.
However, there is rarely a small claim these days. As we all know even a little bump on modern vehicles can amount to a £2,000 repair without blinking. There still appears to be a mindset to think we’re back in the 80’s and 90’s where you could get a bumper touched up for a £100!
Once you take the repair into account and then start adding credit hires for instance when the third party decides they should go through their own insurer we have a £5,000 claim as easy as that.
As good as we like to purport to be in using our skill and influence with insurers, it really is only a matter of time before one the insurers holds a client responsible for their outlay because their conditions have been breached and position prejudiced. That is a call we don't want to have to make.
Whilst we might be able to talk around and cajole some of the insurers, some others are distinctly less helpful or accommodating under these circumstances.
Worryingly this 'late reporting' trend is not just restricted to motor claims. On liability claims and property claims, the 'I will handle it' or 'I will get around to it' attitude appears rife at the moment. Make no mistake if insurers end up paying out, as with some liability claims, they will be coming back to you to reimburse them if you have not complied with the reporting conditions.
It's a shocking reality to end up stuck with the costs, when just a simple 5 minute phone call, reporting a claim or a possible claim when it occurred, would have meant your insurance would have protected you as it was supposed to.
KEEP OUR CLAIMS TEAM HAPPY AND YOURSELF PROTECTED
SO IF IN ANY DOUBT AT ALL JUST CONTACT US STRAIGHT AWAY AND ONE OF OUR CLAIMS TEAM WILL DO THE NECESSARY