Alan Boswell Group are well versed in responding to clients in their hour of need. This usually takes the form of a fire, major storm or flood damage which interrupts operations, or even the loss of a key person in the business. All of these crises are insurable and we help our client with immediate risk management activity and the subsequent formulation of an insurance claim. We support our client in dealings with loss adjusters to ensure the best outcomes from the ensuing insurance claim.
The current Covid-19 crisis poses a rather different set of circumstances. For most businesses there has been no physical loss and for many companies the help they require will not necessarily come from an insurance claim. Most businesses will have a network of professional advisors providing various types of support through the crisis and your insurance broker should be a key source of assistance during this uncertain time.
Helping you support your staff
Digital GP – It has been made clear that people should NOT be visiting their GP if they have any symptoms of Coronavirus and, instead, call 111 for advice. However, if you need to visit the doctors for something else, with all the complications of the lockdown, childcare etc. just finding the time and then booking an appointment can prove difficult. If you have a private medical insurance (PMI) policy in place your group members may have access to a digital GP service. A simple-to-use, easy-to-access way of getting an appointment and speeding up the time by which your employees can receive treatment.
Mental health support – If your PMI policy included a mental health extension your members will also have access to a 24-7, confidential, stress counselling helpline. This can prove invaluable at a time when it has been well documented that the enforced isolation is having some detrimental effects on mental health and wellbeing.
Employee assistance programmes – Your staff may have had to deal with major changes both professionally and personally during the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent societal changes. If your employee benefits programme includes an employee assistance programme (EAP) it will usually provide a helpline (phone or online) which all your staff can access for confidential advice on a range of work related and personal subjects including psychological issues, relationship problems, addiction, childcare, eldercare, debt and legal worries. Advice to line managers is also available to help them manage their teams. Now is a good time to promote this benefit to staff and managers within your business.
Helping your business
Company vehicles – If you are not using vehicles for a period they can be transferred to laid up cover which normally costs less than full comprehensive cover. It will usually be necessary to SORN vehicles and keep them in a secure area or building to enable insurers to consider laid-up cover discounts.
Support services – Some business will consider outsourcing certain services to add flexibility to the cost base. If you decide that this would be useful Alan Boswell Risk Management offer an outsourced Health & Safety consultancy service. Please contact us if you are interested in finding out more.
Legal and HR support – Whether it is legal advice on furloughing employees or understanding what Government support is available you may find your management liability or directors and officers liability insurance policies will include access to free legal and HR helplines. These can prove invaluable at a time such as this when there is so much new information and business uncertainty – so if you have these benefits make sure you utilise them.
Your next insurance renewal – It would be prudent to talk to your insurance broker in advance to review your insurance programme to ensure that a) it will protect you for the eventualities that you expect it to, and b) the cost is competitive for the next 12 months
Ensuring that your business remains protected
To ensure cover is in place, businesses must update their broker with any new or diversified business activities implemented in the wake of COVID-19. For example, restaurants now operating as takeaways or providing ‘ready meals’ for front line / key workers, businesses with motor fleets offering to provide haulage or delivery services, business with manufacturing facilities manufacturing materials different from the norm, e.g PPE.
Claims from employees may be more likely following significant changes to working practises. Redeployment or asking staff to work from home for significant periods can expose a business to potential employers’ liability claims. These could be triggered by physical outcomes from the failure to risk assess home working set-ups, or the currently untested scenarios of employees claiming for personal injury due to contracting Covid-19 whilst following employer’s instructions which had not been properly risk assessed. Your insurance broker can help you with claims defensibility in this area to help you avoid costly litigation. Appropriate risk assessment and documentation is important to your chances of a successful defence.
Computers and other equipment – Many insurers are now automatically extending business insurance cover to allow the temporary removal of equipment to the homes of employees but it would be prudent to confirm this with your insurer and, if necessary, ensure that any equipment taken home by staff is insured under a temporary removal section in your policy
Unoccupied premises – most Insurers have agreed to extend the standard 30 days cover for empty premises to 60 or 90 days, so that full cover is maintained whilst businesses are closed. Check your position with your insurance broker
Business Interruption insurance – It has now been widely reported that the majority of insurers don’t provide cover for loss of income or loss of profits due to closure as a result of Covid-19 contrary to what the government & press originally stated. All businesses should check their personal situation with their insurance broker and keep a record of income and profit losses relating to the change in circumstances following Covid-19 outbreak
Break-ins and arson – If your premises are unoccupied for a period, this could increase the risk of break-in and arson attack. It is important to ensure your premises are secure. Alan Boswell Risk Management have produced a guide to protecting your premises here
Investments & Pensions – We are in the midst of an unprecedented event for society and markets. This makes it difficult to give any short-term predictions with any certainty. However, there are encouraging signs in the scale of response by policymakers who have reacted strongly to recent market volatility with new measures of an unprecedented scale being released daily. If you would like guidance on protecting your investments or future planning our financial advisers at Alan Boswell Financial Planners are here to help.