Previous guidance about business insurances

The below summaries the advice we’ve previously given about various business insurances since March 2020. Please remember, as our clients have a variety of different insurances that are placed with a number of different insurers, we've been unable comment on the exact stance of each as this varies.

Don’t forget, please check your policy documents for full cover details. Should you have any queries, please contact your usual Sutton Winson team and they'll be able to help you.

Business Travel Cover

If you bought your policy prior to the outbreak and have a travel disruption section, you may be covered if the trip is cancelled or curtailed outside of your control.

If a trip was booked after COVID-19 in March, the policy will not respond for any cancellation costs, disinclination to travel and insolvency of an airline or hotel would also not be covered .

Medical treatment abroad should be covered, but please be aware that local facilities may be unavailable and medical repatriation or transfer to available facilities, will be subject to any travel restrictions.

Where the FCO advise essential trips only to countries or territories:-

  • Leisure travel is not essential and there will be no cover.
  • Business travel full details of the trip will be required to justify the essential trip. We will refer to your Insurer for approval and confirmation of cover obtained.

Information correct as of: 21/08/2020

Commercial Motor

Some insurers are aware that many Commercial Motor customers will want to support people in their communities who are impacted by COVID-19, including the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme.

Subject to your permission and any existing conditions (such as driving restrictions), if your employees use their company vehicle for voluntary purposes (non-payment), to transport medicine or groceries to support others or for the activities of an NHS Volunteer Responder, some insurers may include this cover.

However, please refer to your usual Sutton Winson contact, who will check with your insurer first.

Information correct as of: 01/04/2020

Employers & Public Liability

It's possible that some businesses may face claims for failing to protect their employees or Third Parties from contracting COVID-19.

Your business could be exposed to liability claims and specified diseases aren’t normally excluded. You would have to be proven negligent before a claim could be considered under the policy.

Examples could include:

  • Making staff work together
  • Permitting staff business travel abroad

Employers and Public Liability policies would cover defence costs if claims arise, whether valid or not.

Directors & Officers

Senior Management must focus on continuing regulatory compliance and employee protection. If they don’t, examples of claims include:

  • Insufficiency of business continuity plans
  • Unsatisfactory financial or management decisions
  • Relaxation of IT security which leads to a data, business or reputational loss

Information correct as of: 01/04/2020

Equipment & Plant Inspections

Inspections of certain Equipment and Plant remain a statutory requirement. You may not be breaking the law if items are not in use but when you reopen you may be.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend that access is provided to closed premises, where inspections can be completed in a low risk environment, ensuring ongoing compliance with statutory regulations. 

Inspection providers are currently prioritising certain key activities, which may mean you experience delays.

Statutory inspections must be carried out by a competent person. We have seen recent examples of inspections being offered at over inflated costs. We recommend that you wait for an accredited inspection company, to guarantee quality and compliance with regulations.

For further information from HSE, click here.

Information correct as of: 15/05/2020

Event Cancellation

If you have organised an event it would be understandable that you may wish to cancel it over fears of contracting the virus.

Standard event cancellation policies contain an infectious disease exclusion and unless specific cover has been purchased, it’s likely any costs incurred will not be insured. Even in circumstances where specific cover has been purchased, it will still be necessary for the venue to be directly affected by an outbreak.

Information correct as of: 19/03/2020

Home Working

Your liability insurance covers your employees working from home. We suggest that employers and their staff check their home insurance policies, to make sure home working is permitted - it’s likely to be, unless any Third Parties will be visiting or manual work is being done.

Health & Safety

Health and Safety responsibilities to home and lone workers are unchanged. Risk assessments are still needed and you’re responsible for the safety of the equipment you supply.

It’s unreasonable (and against health advice) to expect your Health and Safety personnel to visit every homeworker. Completion of a standard questionnaire or some form of online assessment could be considered reasonable.

You also still need to comply with the Working Time Directive.

Data Protection

GDPR, general data and privacy protection remains important and employees need to be reminded of their obligations. Simple measures include:

  • Remembering to lock the screen on their laptops.
  • Securely filing or locking away paperwork.

Your IT team should have considered the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), password protected access to systems, cloud security and general standards of encryption. It’s particularly important to maintain cyber security resilience given that a significant number of cyber/data protection claims arise from unsecured VPNs.

Check out our article about the cyber security risks of homeworking here.

Information correct as of: 01/04/2020

Private Medical Insurance

Healthcare providers are currently treating COVID-19 like any other eligible respiratory illness which would be covered under your healthcare policy.

Information correct as of: 19/03/2020

Property Damage & Unoccupied Premises

Property Damage

Currently COVID-19 is not covered under a property damage policy.

Portable Computer Equipment

Your current cover may already include portable computer equipment used away from the office. Please check the position with us and tell us about any significant changes or increases (e.g. you are going to buy a large amount of new laptops).

Unoccupied Premises

Most property (Buildings, Contents, Stock, Equipment, Plant etc.) insurance policies contain a condition that says the insurer has to be told about unoccupancy. If you don’t tell us, you may not be insured.

Over the lockdown period, most insurers have continued full cover for 90 days. However, now that lockdown restrictions are easing, insurers won't be extending this period again.

If you have a property insurance policy and you're unable to reopen your premises for whatever reason, after 90 days of closure, the unoccupancy conditions will apply.

If your premises remain closed or are partially unoccupied, please speak to us as soon as possible and we’ll explain:

  • What conditions apply and the actions you need to take
  • What insurance cover restrictions/increased excesses etc. might be in place

Information correct as of: 29/06/2020

Travel Insurance

Firstly, you should always follow the advice given by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), local (overseas)/UK health authorities and, if abroad, the local British Embassy. 

FCO advice can be found at  

Secondly, contact your travel provider (airline/hotel/tour operator/etc) to discuss options such as refunds, amendments or postponements.

If you are currently at home but have booked a trip

Now that the FCO has issued advice against all non-essential travel for the next 30 days (which is likely to be extended) you may have to cancel or re-organise a booked trip. 

Your first port of call should be your travel provider(s) (airline, hotel, train company, etc) to see if you can obtain a refund or amend your travel plans.

Next speak with your credit card provider (if the trip was booked using a credit card, and the amount paid was over £100) as you should be able to claim under Article 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Finally, speak with your travel insurance claims team (you’ll find their details in your policy wording).  Any claim made would be subject to the policy terms and conditions, when the policy was purchased and when the trip was booked.

Information correct as of: 19/03/2020

Useful links

  • For guidance proving the presence of COVID-19 in a particular area, based on the High Court’s judgment and declarations, click here to view the FCA's guidance.

  • For checking whether your insurance policy may cover business interruption losses due to COVID-19, click here to use the FCA's policy checker.

  • For the latest public information from the UK Government click here

  • For health advice and guidance from the NHS click here

  • For up-to-date travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) click here

  • For the most recent information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) click here

  • For further information about UK Government support for businesses, click here

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