Business Insurance and the Pandemic

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Our Commercial Manager, Tim Davies, shares his thoughts on how Covid-19 has affected businesses, and how this ‘new normal’ may continue to affect business insurance in the future.

When Lockdown 1 hit, Business Interruption losses were the talk of the general insurance world, with thousands of businesses forced to shut on Government order. Whilst no insurer ever intended to cover losses in a pandemic scenario, unclear and ambiguous policy wordings have taken the matter to the High Court.

Whilst that rumbles on, working under Lockdown has affected most business, and with this brings the need to carefully consider the associated insurance implications. Indeed, we need to look forward to how we will all work when we finally get the better of Covid-19.

Many of us are sitting at home, using a work laptop and other associated kit that would normally be kept in the office and neatly covered under an office insurance policy. Whilst many insurers are showing understanding and flexibility in this time of mass working from home, if you are planning to move your employees to a more permanent work from home set-up, this needs to be reflected in your insurance.

Working from home also poses potential Employers Liability problems. Generally, once an employee arrives at their place of work, or climbs into their company car to start the working day, they are under the supervision and control of their employer, and there is an obligation to ensure a safe working environment.

The backdrop of Zoom calls highlights the variety of places people are choosing to work in - kitchen counters, dining room tables, spare bedrooms - but are they set up on a comfortable chair, with their screen at the correct height and so on? Are they taking enough breaks, and switching off at the end of the day? It is much harder for employers to risk assess their staff working environment, and we could be building up to back pain-related absences and even Employers Liability claims. Not to mention potential mental health problems. Some employers may have only talked to some of their staff through a screen for several months, where it is much harder to gauge colleagues mood.

By now everyone must be aware of Cyber Insurance, and Covid brings this right back to the top of the discussion. Cyber attacks have been increasing year-on-year for some time now, and the pandemic along with working from home has provided the perfect opportunity for cyber criminals to increase their activity. Criminals always thrive in times of uncertainty and change, and changes in the way employees are now accessing and using IT is the perfect time for them to strike. Make sure your system security and training regimes are robust and regularly reviewed.

Top Tips for your Business during and after the Pandemic:

  • Review your insurance needs regularly, and start thinking about how your business is going to operate post-pandemic
  • Pay particular attention to working from home and the changing need to insure more property out of the office
  • Review your Health & Safety and wellbeing procedures to ensure your staff are happy, and make sure you are touching base regularly and meaningfully with everyone
  • Review all your IT, and seriously consider backing it all up with a Cyber and Data insurance policy

For independent advice and guidance on insuring your business, call us on 01285 885885 or leave us a message using the form below.