COVID-19 updates

Cover during difficult times

In light of the easing of national lockdown restrictions previously brought in due to the outbreak of COVID-19, whilst there may still be an impact on your insurance needs, the issues caused by a full lockdown have reduced. In turn this affects the enhancements we voluntarily applied to our policies. We have updated the temporary cover enhancements previously applied as detailed below.
 
COVID-19 Temporary Cover Enhancements to your policy 
 
Please see the updates below applicable from 1st September 2020 to all policies.
 
  • There will be no additional premium for the remaining enhancements
  • We will review the position again prior to the expiry of the deadlines noted below for the remaining enhancements and consider further extensions if we deem this appropriate
  • The remaining enhancements will apply via this web page and will apply as if endorsed onto each policy 

FCA Test Case - update

5th October 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. We also appreciate that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has 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 believed this was the right thing to do.  Ansvar is a business division and a trading style of Ecclesiastical.
 
The Test Case High Court Judgement
The High Court Judgement published on 15th September 2020 stated that losses arising from the closure of businesses due to the Government’s action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are not covered by Ecclesiastical’s Business Interruption policies and therefore we are not required to pay claims on those policies.
We recognise that whilst the ruling supports the position we have taken throughout this period, the Judgement will clearly be disappointing to some customers. We are very mindful that this is an unprecedented situation that has been tough for customers and wanted to take part in the legal proceedings so we could gain maximum clarity for all in the shortest amount of time.
 
FCA confirms no further Appeal relating to our policies
At a Court Hearing on 2nd October 2020, the FCA confirmed that it did not intend to Appeal the High Court’s finding that losses arising from the closure of businesses due to the Government’s action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are not covered by Ecclesiastical’s Business Interruption policies.  We recognise that this has been a difficult and uncertain period for customers and we now hope the Judgement provides the certainty and clarity that the Test Case was designed to create.  
 
 
Background:
What the FCA was doing
As recap, the FCA 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, transcripts from the Test Case hearings and the Judgement can be found at www.fca.org.uk/firms/business-interruption-insurance
 
The types of claims the FCA was looking at
The FCA 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.”
 
Recap on the Judgment: what it said and what it means
The High Court Judgement published on 15th September 2020 stated that losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic are not covered by Ecclesiastical’s Business Interruption policies and therefore we are not required to pay claims on those policies.  It was confirmed on 2nd October 2020 that the FCA would not Appeal this ruling.  
We recognise that whilst the ruling supports the position we have taken throughout this period, the Judgement will clearly be disappointing to some customers.  We are very mindful that this is an unprecedented situation that has been tough for customers and wanted to take part in the legal proceedings so we could gain maximum clarity for all in the shortest amount of time.
  
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 advantage of these where appropriate. 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

If you have a complaint that is specifically related to the FCA Test Case ruling please email ansvar.complaints@ansvar.co.uk 

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.  
 
Liability – health and safety 
Resources for employers are signposted by the Health and Safety Executive on their latest information and advice page. As organisations look to different working models for continuity, they also have useful guidance on homeworking and working alone.  
 
Subject to the terms and conditions of the policy, both Employers’ and Public Liability policies provide an indemnity to the policyholder if they are held legally liable for accidental bodily injury or illness arising in connection with their business.

Unoccupied properties

Premises that are temporarily closed solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak – temporary dispensations will cease on 31st August 2020 
 
Buildings that are temporarily closed/no longer in regular use are exposed to different and usually greater risk than occupied premises and premises that are open for regular trading.
 
Our standard policies define “unoccupied” premises and apply standard restrictions in cover and conditions precedent to cover that need to be complied with. Normally a higher premium is charged on unoccupied premises.
 
To ensure customers were not unduly penalised for temporary closures solely due to the COVID-19 full lockdown restrictions the normal terms and conditions applicable to unoccupied premises were not applied to premises that were temporarily closed.
 
Temporarily Closed meant premises temporarily closed solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak (and such premises were not regarded as unoccupied as defined in the Policy) during the period when the dispensations applied.
 
With effect from 1st September 2020 temporarily closed premises must comply with all policy terms and conditions, including (but not restricted to) unoccupied premises conditions, where they fall within the normal policy definition of Unoccupied.
 
Please note:
  1. The start of any period of unoccupancy begins from the date the premises first became unoccupied (not from 1st September 2020). 
  2. If a premises qualifies as unoccupied on 1st September 2020 the insured must comply with all policy terms and conditions for unoccupied premises immediately from 1st September 2020 to maintain cover in line with the policy (unless otherwise agreed or varied by us in writing).
  3. Premises that are not yet open to customers/other service users, or not yet fully used in the normal way for that premises, but does have occupation for at least one day every 30 days in line with normal working hours for that premises (such as admin/office functions are now operating, or there is a presence in preparing for normal operations to re-commence), will not be deemed unoccupied. 
See the policy definition of unoccupied for more details. 
 
If in doubt please contact us via your normal channel of communication.

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 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.

Risk advice guides

Premises that are temporarily closed solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak – temporary dispensations will cease on 31st August 2020 
 
Buildings that are temporarily closed/no longer in regular use are exposed to different and usually greater risk than occupied premises and premises that are open for regular trading.
 
Our standard policies define “unoccupied” premises and apply standard restrictions in cover and conditions precedent to cover that need to be complied with. Normally a higher premium is charged on unoccupied premises.
 
To ensure customers were not unduly penalised for temporary closures solely due to the COVID-19 full lockdown restrictions the normal terms and conditions applicable to unoccupied premises were not applied to premises that were temporarily closed.
 
Temporarily Closed meant premises temporarily closed solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak (and such premises were not regarded as unoccupied as defined in the Policy) during the period when the dispensations applied.
 
With effect from 1st September 2020 temporarily closed premises must comply with all policy terms and conditions, including (but not restricted to) unoccupied premises conditions, where they fall within the normal policy definition of Unoccupied.
 
Please note:
  1. The start of any period of unoccupancy begins from the date the premises first became unoccupied (not from 1st September 2020). 
  2. If a premises qualifies as unoccupied on 1st September 2020 the insured must comply with all policy terms and conditions for unoccupied premises immediately from 1st September 2020 to maintain cover in line with the policy (unless otherwise agreed or varied by us in writing).
  3. Premises that are not yet open to customers/other service users, or not yet fully used in the normal way for that premises, but does have occupation for at least one day every 30 days in line with normal working hours for that premises (such as admin/office functions are now operating, or there is a presence in preparing for normal operations to re-commence), will not be deemed unoccupied. 
See the policy definition of unoccupied for more details. 
 
If in doubt please contact us via your normal channel of communication.

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.

FCA Test Case ruling

The High Court Judgment published on 15th September 2020 stated that losses arising from the Covid-19 pandemic are not covered by Ecclesiastical’s Business Interruption policies and therefore we are not required to pay claims on those policies. Please click here for our full statement.

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 see our FAQs or 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:
 
 
 

Charity guidance and insight

We understand you have an immediate need for funding to help you to meet the day-to-day demands of your charity and the communities you serve. 
 
Nationwide, the demand for charity services has increased while income has declined sharply. With events cancelled and little or no face-to-face fundraising on high streets and elsewhere, the voluntary opportunities for people to give have all but dried up. Corporate partnerships have been hit while those businesses recalibrate their own plans for the future. 
 
That’s why we’ve launched a range of resources to support you, assist fundraising and help you plan new ways of operating. 

Outstanding risk improvements, periodic conditions and maintenance conditions

Will re-apply from 1st September 2020 and all dispensations cease 
We temporarily suspended compliance with risk improvements by the deadline specified by us, and other policy terms requiring regular maintenance or inspection, where these could not be completed during the COVID-19 lockdown because of the restrictions on movement and/or the lack of availability of contractors.
 
With effect from 1st September 2020 the suspension of compliance will cease. Any policy term that requires regular maintenance or inspection re-applies from 1st September 2020.
 
In respect of risk improvements, the deadlines for compliance are re-set as detailed below:
The period of time allowed for compliance/completion:
  • Will commence on the date we issued risk improvements to you and run to 17th March 2020 
  • Will be suspended for the period from 17th March 2020 to 31st August 2020 – this period will not be counted
  • Will re-commence on 1st September 2020
  • Will now include an additional 30 day in addition to the original period, to cater for the difficulties and interruptions caused by lockdown
For example, if the deadline set was 30 days from 1st March 2020 the end date is now re-set as:
  • 1st March 2020 to 16th March 2020 (16 days elapsed with 14 days remaining of the original 30)
  • 17th March to 31st August 2020 does not count towards the deadline
  • Deadline period recommences on 1st September 2020, so run for 14 days to 14th September 2020
  • Plus the additional 30 days now added makes the new deadline 14th October 2020
If the re-set deadline is not sufficient for any reason please contact us immediately. Do not wait for the end of the allowed period to expire before contacting us.