COVID-19 updates

Cover during difficult times

In light of the changing situation and the most recent government advice about the outbreak of COVID-19, we have reviewed our position to ensure we can continue to help and support you at this difficult time and to provide you with some additional advice and support.

FCA Test Case - update

FCA TEST CASE UPDATE 
31 July 2020
 
We are very aware that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing hardship across the UK economy and that many are experiencing difficulties in this unprecedented situation.
 
Unfortunately, the vast majority of our insurance cover does not include pandemics. We do appreciate, however, that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have received a number of questions and concerns from customers across the insurance industry where their business interruption policies do not cover COVID-19 losses.
 
As such, Ecclesiastical Insurance Office Plc (“Ecclesiastical”) agreed to participate in a ‘Test Case’ with the FCA to provide clarity and certainty to customers because we think this is the right thing to do. Ansvar is a business division and a trading style of Ecclesiastical.
 
The Test Case was heard by the High Court between 20-30 July 2020 and we previously wrote to individual customers who have already submitted a claim or complained about the lack of cover.
 
 
What the FCA was doing
 
The FCA has defined the ‘Test Case’ as
 
“The proceedings brought by the FCA to resolve uncertainty as to whether certain non-damage business interruption insurance policies respond to claims related to the coronavirus pandemic.”
 
And that during the Test Case:
 
“acting in the public interest, the FCA will put forward policyholders’ arguments to their best advantage. We are aiming to obtain legal guidance in this way more quickly and at a lower cost to policyholders than would be the case if they took their own court actions.”
 
Further information from the FCA, legal submissions and transcripts from the Test Case hearings can be found at www.fca.org.uk/firms/business-interruption-insurance
 
 
The types of claims the FCA was looking at  
 
The FCA has set out that:
 
“Our view remains that most SME insurance policies are focused on property damage (and only have basic cover for BI as a consequence of property damage) so, at least in the majority of cases, insurers are not obliged to pay out in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. This case is focused on the remainder of policies that could be argued to include cover.”

And it has defined a ‘Potentially Affected Claim’ as:
 
“A claim made under a relevant non-damage business interruption policy for losses relating to the coronavirus pandemic where the outcome of the claim, including issues of causation, may be affected by the final resolution in the test case, whether or not the insurer has declined the claim by issuing a declinature letter or has made an adjustment or deduction for general causation.”
 
It is also important to note that the FCA has commented as follows:
 
“Policyholders should not assume that simple inclusion of their policy wording in this case will mean their policies are responsive. We are seeking a judgment that will help policyholders and insurers have a much clearer view of which business interruption policies respond to the pandemic, and those that don’t. Therefore, the court may well decide a number of these policies respond to the pandemic and others do not.”

 
Next Steps

The Court has now heard submissions from the FCA and the eight insurers who agreed to take part in the Test Case. The High Court Judges will now assess all the information that has been submitted and discussed during the hearings to form a Judgment. There is no fixed timetable on when that Judgment will be published but the Court has indicated that this would not be before the middle of September 2020. Following publication of the Judgment, we will write to individual customers who have already submitted a claim or complained about the lack of cover and we will also keep customers aware of significant developments via www.ansvar.co.uk/covid-19-updates/covid-19-news/ . We encourage customers to check this website regularly for updates and the FCA website mentioned above which also contains useful information.
 
Other forms of help

The Government recognises that its own actions to save lives and beat the virus have resulted in sudden and acute difficulties for businesses large and small. It has announced several very substantial initiatives to help them overcome these, a number of which may apply to your business. We would encourage our policyholders to take full advantage of these where they can. These include loans on advantageous terms, cash grants, and employment protection measures. We recommend checking the Government website for more details and in Scotland.
 
We are also supporting our customers with advice and guidance, aligned to the Government’s guidelines, to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, which is available on our website. For specific risk advice about topics including, health and safety, fire and security, you can contact our risk experts on 0345 600 7531.

Employees working from home

We understand that the employees of our customers may be working from home, like our own.
 
With that in mind, we would like to remind our customers that most of our charity, faith and commercial products provide an extension for property temporarily away from the premises. Where we provide cover for contents, this includes property held by an employee at their home, under the Temporary Removal of Contents extension.  The amount we cover is usually £2,500 or £5,000 depending on the policy you have bought.  
 
This cover is not available under our Charity Protect, Small Charity Connect, Community Group Connect or Event Connect products.  However, if you have All Risks then this will cover such property at the home of an employee.  

Unoccupied properties

As more and more employees are working from home, and no longer at the insured buildings, you may be concerned that the policy will regard your buildings as unoccupied, untenanted, empty or disused and your cover then restricted.  
 
For an initial period up to and including the 31st August 2020, we will withhold the: 
• restrictive policy cover for unoccupancy, and 
• policy General Condition that requires you to inform us of the buildings being, or expected to be, unoccupied 
should your employees be forced to work from home as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 
 
However, if your building is no longer occupied this represents a greater risk of significant damage which could delay your organisation getting back up and running, once the current COVID-19 outbreak has passed.
 
With this in mind we would advise, where you are able to do so safely and within the current government guidelines, you try to ensure that:
 
1. the buildings are inspected internally and externally by an authorised person once a week to check the security and general condition of the premises;
2. all waste, refuse and other disused combustible materials is cleared from the buildings and any grounds adjacent to it;
3. all external doors must be securely locked and all opening windows closed and locked (where fitted with locking devices);
4. all tanks and pipes must be drained down and when you are able to do this, all taps, stopcocks and mains supply valves turned off.  If this is not possible, because you need to maintain a central heating system, a minimum temperature of 7C must be maintained.
5. a) gas supplies should be switched off unless to maintain a central heating system.
    b) electricity supplies should be switched off unless to maintain a central heating system or existing intruder alarm systems, fire protection systems, CCTV, security lighting or sprinkler systems. 
6. all existing physical devices for securing, or preventing access to, the buildings must be kept in full and effective operation at all times and to have all keys removed from the locks and kept in a secure place away from the premises;
 
We recognise that you may not be able to complete all of the items listed above, either partially or in their entirety but we would encourage you to consider anything you can do, to reduce the risk of damage or loss, particularly through escaping water from heating systems and security of the premises generally. Your cooperation during this difficult time is very much appreciated.

Additional Activities

We recognise that as the situation develops, certain organisations may look to support their local community by mobilising their organisation to support those finding it most difficult. Examples of this work, could be delivering shopping for vulnerable people not able to get out of their homes.
 
At Ansvar, local communities are at the heart of what we do and we are keen to give organisations the peace of mind they require in carrying out this work. As such, we would also like to remind our customers that we provide cover for such work:
 
Under our Church Connect and Church Fellowship Connect products:
• Community work (including domestic work and domestic gardening)
• Pastoral Care
 
Under our Charity and Community Connect (and Small Charity Connect where endorsement E216 shown) the following apply automatically but only where the organisations main activities and aims are based on the same work (ie Community Work, Work with vulnerable people, etc):
• Collection and delivery work
• Domestic work, including domestic gardening
 
If the charity is not currently working in such an area (ie clerical training based activities) but would now like to provide support out in the community during this time, we will need to review this, so we can ensure you have the correct cover in place.
IMPORTANT: Cover for any of these activities on any of our products, is subject to your organisation complying with local authority and/or government advice. Following the government’s recent announcement, you should only be providing support services where you can do so within the rules issued and where it is safe for your employees, volunteers and the people you are trying to support.
 
All other policy terms, conditions and exceptions are unchanged. 
 
We will review these changes towards the end of June.
 
We hope that this provides the reassurance you need.  If this is not enough to meet the current crisis, or if you are unsure in any way, then speak to your Business Development Manager or one of our underwriters to discuss further.

Helpful information

Arson Prevention Forumwww.stoparsonuk.org/arson/

The selection and use of electronic security systems in empty buildings

Risk Control. Arson Prevention. The Protection of Premises from Deliberate Fire Raising

www.riscauthority.co.uk
HM Government COVID-19 Advicewww.gov.uk/coronavirus

Risk advice line

(provided by Ecclesiastical professionals or external specialists)
Phone: 0345 600 7531 
 
Risk specialists are on hand to advise you on a range of topics, including: 
• property protection, security, business continuity planning
• health and safety, food safety, environmental management 
• construction safety, fire safety, occupational health, water safety or asbestos. 
 
Available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm (excluding public and bank holidays).
 
For further information speak to your insurance advisor or call us on 0345 60 20 999.

Changes due to COVID-19

Following advice from the government, with effect from today, 17th March the majority of our staff will be home-working.  
 
We have been working on solutions to enable our teams to work from home for some time, and are confident we will continue to provide you and your customers with the great service you’re used to. This includes our underwriting teams in our Eastbourne office and our claims team who are situated in our Gloucester office.
 
You can still call our offices and speak to one of our underwriters directly, we would encourage you to use our generic team group numbers and email addresses as per the below.
 
New Business - 01323 744198
 
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Existing Business - 01323 744199
 
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Online Team - 01323 744289
 
 
Ansvar Accounts - 01323 744130
 
 
Our claims team has also been relocated but you can contact them in the usual way using the main claims’ telephone number and the usual email which is ansvarclaims@ansvar.co.uk
 
These are challenging times for all of us and our thoughts are with all of you and your people.
 
We will check in with you from time to time to make sure you are getting everything you need. If you do have any concerns then please pick up the phone to your Business Development Manager or any member of the Ansvar Leadership Team.
 
We will keep you updated and informed if anything changes but in the meantime, please keep safe and well.

FAQs

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many questions around people, cover, claims and what we as an insurer are doing to help our customers. The FAQs below may help you.

Claims

During this unprecedented period, we expect to continue servicing our customers as usual and you should continue to contact us in the usual way. If you experience any problems with the telephone network, you can email us on ansvarclaims@ansvar.co.uk and we will respond to you as soon as we can.

Cover information - COVID-19

There has been a lot of confusion concerning COVID-19 and whether cover is provided under our current products, so we would like to clarify our position for you so that you can address these concerns directly with your customers.     
 
Specified disease definition
In short, there is no cover for COVID-19 under the specified disease definition, as the disease in question is not specified in that list, nor is it related to any of them. Even if made notifiable, and we understand that the Government has already made an announcement about this, there is no cover unless the definition is amended and we have no plans to extend cover to include this. 
 
Employers Liability
From a liability perspective in particular EL, there could be some exposure as specified diseases are not excluded. However, the insured would have to be proven negligent in some way, before any such claim could be considered under the policy. For example if an employer permitted staff to travel to areas which are against World Health Organisation (WHO) or Government (Foreign Office) advice.
 
Business Interruption
For cover under BI, it would have to fall under the ‘Specified Diseases’ extension, and as already stated, COVID-19 is not one of these diseases nor is it related to any of those noted under the policy and as such, no cover will be provided.
 
If you require further clarification, please speak to one of our Underwriting team.

COVID-19 charity sector

Important guidance concerning help and advice for charity trustees from the Charity Commission about how to respond to the crisis, reiterating Government help to ease the financial pressures applicable to charities, and practical advice on governance matters and communication.
 

Life after lockdown

Getting your organisation up and running again after lockdown will be a priority for you. However, you will want to do this in a way that makes sure everyone is as safe as possible. Deciding how best to do this to fit with your own circumstances is key.
 
You will have to do everything that is reasonably practicable given the risk presented. There may be a lot to think about initially. You will need to identify workable precautions and make sure these are taken. In nearly all cases, further precautions will be necessary. This will include social distancing, protecting those most vulnerable, maintaining good levels of hygiene and so on.
 
COVID Secure: making a start

You will probably have arrangements and precautions already in place to keep all those who work at, visit or use your premises safe. You will need to review these before reopening. 
 
Things you may want to consider include:
 
  • deciding if you are able to re-open your premises and if staff are able to travel to them
  • working with those you may have appointed to help you review your arrangements and precautions
  • reviewing your risk assessments if you need to complete these to identify any additional precautions you need to take
  • consulting with your staff on managing the risk from COVID-19 and any precautions to be taken
  • making every reasonable effort for staff to work from home whilst ensuring their safety
  • protecting those who are clinically vulnerable (or shielding someone who is) or extremely vulnerable and self-isolating
  • implementing adequate precautions in-line with the COVID-19 Secure guidance or other trusted sources
  • checking that your first-aid arrangements and facilities are adequate
  • providing any necessary training or information for staff to make sure they know how to work safely
  • checking periodically that your precautions remain effective and adequate.
 
Some of these points may be more relevant to you than others and the list is not exhaustive.
 
COVID secure: premises

Before opening your premises, you may want to inspect them to make sure they are safe. You will probably want to clean them and make any adaptations necessary. Whatever the case, you will need to make sure that your staff know about any changes and the additional precautions to be taken before they start work.
 
In starting up any equipment you should make sure that this is done safely following any necessary procedures. You should also make sure that any statutory inspections of equipment are up to date or appropriate action taken.   
 
You may also want to review any business continuity plans you have in place. You may be able to develop contingencies further to deal with any shutdown and start-up events in the future.
 
COVID secure: keeping up to date

As we learn more about the virus and its control, official guidance is frequently changing. You will want to keep up to date as it does, to make sure the precautions you have taken continue to protect people.
 
Want to know more?
 
For more information about getting back to work after lockdown, why not download our guide
 
Village and Community Halls
 
For advice on re-opening your village or community hall, you may find some interesting advice from ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) here:
 
 
 

Automatic cover beyond renewal date

Where the renewal (or a specific extension) of the policy is unable to be confirmed by the renewal date due to incapacity, it is agreed that:
 
1)Where renewal terms are subsequently (after renewal date) not accepted, cover by this policy shall be automatically extended based on expiry terms to:
     a) the date renewal is formally declined, or
     b) 30 days after renewal date
     whichever is the sooner at which point all policy cover shall cease.
 
Provided that:
i. there are no material changes in risk that the insured should have advised to the insurer prior to any incapacity (unless otherwise already catered for by specific Covid-19 cover enhancements for ‘Unoccupied properties and Outstanding risk improvements, periodic conditions and maintenance conditions’ as shown below),
ii. an additional pro-rata premium is paid by the insured (unless below £50, where such premiums will be waived by the insurer) based upon the annual premium applicable immediately prior to the renewal date,
iii. the insurer shall not be liable to pay any claims occurring during the period of the extension of cover until the additional premium due has been paid,
iv. there shall be no increase in or reinstatement of any applicable:
    -    sums insured,
    -    aggregate sums insured, or
    -    any other limits or limits of liability
   during the extended period of insurance
v. no automatic extensions of policy cover will apply to policies that the insurer has specifically excluded from this arrangement by prior notice to the broker (or insured for direct business)
vi. where terrorism insurance is included in this policy, such cover for terrorism (in accordance with Pool Re rules) shall be:
    -    treated as a new short period of insurance
    -    subject to rates, premiums and terms applicable to the new short period of insurance (not the expiring insurance rates, premiums and terms)
vii. the insurer, the broker/insurance advisor and the insured shall use reasonable endeavours to conclude renewals or extensions prior to renewal date so as to avoid as far as possible the need for any automatic extension. 
 
For Ansvar commercial and household policies that are transacted through EDI or through software houses
For Home Connect Lifestyle business transacted via SSP, Open GI or Applied platforms or Charity Protect and Charity Protect Plus business transacted via Acturis, you may not be able to confirm renewal after the renewal date has passed.
 
In these cases, we will ensure renewals are invited in good time and would suggest that brokers either:
 
a) contact their software house suppliers to ensure a workaround is in place to allow renewals to be confirmed after renewal date has passed, or 
b) accept renewals for all clients before renewal date and then lapse, or contact us to lapse or cancel cases, where you subsequently are able to contact clients and they do not wish to proceed.
 
 
Or
 
2) Where renewal terms are subsequently accepted (after renewal date) as a result of incapacity, the insured agrees that once accepted such renewal terms are effective from the renewal date.
 
Incapacity means the relevant representatives of: 
a) the insured, or 
b) their insurance broker/advisor, or 
c) the insurer 
have been unable to conclude the renewal or extension of the policy solely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to the above-noted representatives being:
a) infected, or
b) suspected to be infected, or
c) in self–isolation or quarantine, or
d) subject to working practices or restrictions (including travel restrictions) recommended by:
    i. their employer
    ii. the UK government/government body or other regulatory body 
which limits their ability to operate function and/or communicate.

Outstanding risk improvements, periodic conditions and maintenance conditions

Any policy term that requires regular maintenance, inspection or where we have specified completion of a risk improvement by a specified deadline that cannot be fully complied with or fully completed, solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak causing travel restrictions or the lack of availability of contractors, will be held in automatic abeyance until: 
• the expiry of the current outbreak, or 
• the availability of contractors, or 
• the date the temporary cover enhancement expires
whichever is the sooner provided all reasonable steps have been attempted to comply with the policy terms or complete risk improvements in part or in whole given the circumstances at the time.