Covea update 25 January 2021
Covea have issued the following Covid-19 update. It is important that you read its contents and speak to your usual contact at Bridge if you are unable to comply with any of the requirements, need to notify of a change in circumstance or if you have any questions.
Updated Guidance for Brokers and Policyholders
1. Unoccupied Premises (Existing Business) – Jan 2021
This guidance applies to Premises under our existing Commercial policies, including Commercial or Residentially-let policies have had to become temporarily unoccupied due to Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Government.
Brokers and customers will not need to advise us of the temporary unoccupied status of the Property, and the existing level of cover will continue for a period of 90 consecutive days from the date the Premises was closed, provided that
• Completes internal and external inspections of the Premises at least once every 7 days
• Ensures that the Risk Management Guidance below is met in full, unless superseded in this bulletin
• Maintains written logs of all inspections, including time and date of inspection
• Notifies Us immediately of any unusual features, changes, defects or concerns regarding the premises, equipment, contents or other property, regardless of any loss
In addition, due to freezing conditions during winter months:
• Water systems and water tanks must be drained*,
• All stopcock valves must be closed, and the water system inspected as part of the 7 day inspection requirements detailed above,
• Heating systems must be left on, with temperatures maintained at a minimum of 11 degrees Celsius (52 degrees Fahrenheit)
* Where heating systems require that water systems or tanks are not drained in order to operate, the requirement to drain the system and/or tank may be relaxed.
After 90 days brokers and customers need to advise us of the occupancy status of the Premises and cover and risk management requirements will be reviewed. In the extreme, if a customer is unable to complete a facet of this guidance due to Government guidance on essential travel during the lockdown period, that facet may be relaxed upon referral. This is provided that customers have taken all reasonable endeavours to follow the Risk Management Guidance set out below. Customers will be required to inspect such Premises when they are next able to do so safely and maintain logs of this activity.
Where unoccupancy is not due to Covid-19, normal Policy Conditions apply.
For any queries not covered by this statement, or where customers are unable to comply with this document whilst keeping with Government guidance on agreement from us is required.
Risk Management Guidance
• Waste – Remove all external waste, pallets and empty skips before closure of the Premises.
• Waste bins – Empty all waste bins and move to a secure area, ideally at least 10 metres from the building. If it is not possible to keep at least 10 metres from the building then these bins should have locked lids.
• Fire Systems – Ensure all fire and/or sprinkler systems remain fully operational.
• Fire Doors – Check to ensure that internal fire doors are closed.
• Building Utilities – Ensure all non-essential electrical devices and building utilities are turned off.
• Inspections – Arrange for a weekly inspection of the building (internally and externally), risk assess for any lone working issues. Comply with existing Government guidance regarding vulnerable people and lone worker risk
assessments. Consider the provisioning for alternative skilled personnel.
• Physical Security – Check that physical security measures are in place and effective. For example, fences are fit for purpose and in good repair, windows are locked, shutters are in place, gates are locked.
• Intruder Alarm – Set intruder alarms and ensure that the remote signalling is in place. Make sure there are a sufficient number of key holders available to respond to an activation within 20 minutes.
• Maintenance – As long as it is practical, continue essential maintenance and complete any remedial measures.
• Continue to respond to all Building Management Systems (BMS) alerts.
2. Working from home
During this period, we will extend our Policies to cover any Computer Equipment, Contents and Stock belonging to the Business whilst necessarily and temporarily removed from the Insured’s Premises and located at the residential home of an Employee of the Insured for Business purposes.
This cover will also extend to any necessary and direct transit between these aforementioned locations.
This automatic cover extension will be subject to:
- Adequate Sums Insured being noted on the Policy.
- The maintenance of a fully up-to-date and documented inventory detailing the equipment which has been temporarily removed, its location, and whose possession it is in.
- A maximum period of 90 days from the date the Premises was closed, or up to the point where the customer is able to resume trading from their Premises, whichever is the sooner.
- The customer needing to work from home to comply with Government guidance on social distancing and self-isolation during the lockdown period.
- The aforementioned locations being situated within the Territorial Limits.
- All terms and conditions of your existing Policy, unless extended or agreed by us.
- Our liability under this extension shall not exceed £50,000 any one occurrence and in the aggregate.
Our Policy coverage provided will automatically allow for Employees of the customer to work remotely as long as the scope of the work carried out is within the business description and subject to all Policy terms conditions and limitations.
It is the Employer’s duty to consider what may cause harm to their home or remote workers, or other people, as a result of the work being carried out within the home or in remote locations.
Home or remote workers can help by identifying the hazards for their manager, and we would expect a documented risk assessment to have been completed with consideration also given to the risks this work might present to other people on the premises, for example keeping trailing wires and cables tidy, to prevent a tripping hazard.
Employers need to ensure that the aforementioned risk assessment incorporates Display Screen Equipment and ergonomic exposures with particular reference to Employees who have not previously worked from home.
Useful guidance to assist Policyholders and Brokers can be provided through the HSE website.
Covea updates prior to 25 January 2021
We have been involved in in-depth discussions with a number of insurers over the arrangements of our clients’ policy in relation to the restrictions imposed by the UK Government in order to contain the COVID 19 pandemic. Covea have issued formal guidance following the outbreak of COVID19 and this can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.
We have reviewed the guidance and have summarised the important points below. It is important that you read both our summary and Covea’s guidance in full.
Covea’s policy wording in general follows the rest of the UK market in that the UK wide lockdown of premises, such as your own, isn’t a sufficient trigger for policy coverage. COVID 19 has to be listed within the policy and manifest itself at, or occurred specifically on your premises leading to its closure. We appreciate that the above clarification will come as a disappointment, however this is largely the same position for the overwhelming majority of commercial insurance policies in the UK – not just for Covea policies. However, we do urge you to check with your usual Bridge contact to clarify the position under your policy.
Further information on the coverage that applies across a wide range of types of insurance contracts across the UK is available from the website of the Association of British Insurers:
Where Premises under Covea’s Commercial and Residentially-let Policies have had to become temporarily unoccupied due to Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Government, you will not need to advise Covea of the temporary unoccupied status of the property, and the existing level of cover will continue for a period of 90 consecutive days from the date the Premises was closed.
Risk Management requirements will apply after 45 consecutive days of temporary unoccupancy, with the exception of compulsory inspection at times when customers are unable to do so safely. Customers will be required to inspect such Premises when they are next able to do so safely around this period, and maintain logs of this activity.
Risk Management Requirements
- Waste – Remove all external waste, pallets and empty skips before closure of the premises.
- Waste bins – Empty all waste bins and move to a secure area, ideally at least 10 metres from the building. If it is not possible to keep at least 10 metres then these bins should have lockable lids.
- Fire Systems – Ensure all fire and/or sprinkler systems remain fully operational.
- Fire Doors – Check to ensure that internal fire doors are closed.
- Building Utilities – Ensure all non-essential electrical devices and building utilities are turned off.
- Inspections – Arrange for a weekly inspection of the building (internally and externally), risk assess for any lone working issues. Comply with existing government guidance regarding vulnerable people and lone worker risk assessments. Consider the provisioning for alternative skilled personnel.
- Physical Security – Check that physical security measures are in place and effective. For example, fences are fit for purpose and in good repair, windows are locked, shutters are in place, gates are locked.
- Intruder Alarm – Set Intruder alarms and ensure that the remote signalling is in place. Make sure there are a sufficient number of key holders available to respond to an activation within 20 minutes.
- Maintenance – As long as it is practical, continue essential maintenance and complete any remedial measures. Continue to respond to all Building Management Systems (BMS) alerts.
Please note that If your premises were already unoccupied before the Covid-19 outbreak, and you are now unable to meet the terms of the unoccupied conditions in your policy due to the current restrictions, please get in touch with your usual Bridge contact so we can discuss the matter with Covea and ensure that your current level of cover is maintained and any subsequent claim is not repudiated due to breach of these conditions.
Change in Risk
We asked Covea to relax their requirement for notification of any changes in risk whereby for example you have adopted a change in your business description (for example to accommodate a takeaway/delivery service). Covea have not issued any guidance I this respect so we ask you to please review your current business activities and operational arrangements and to speak to your usual Bridge contact if there are any changes that need to be agreed with Covea.
Covea have not advised whether they are prepared to offer automatic increases in sums insured for business and IT equipment to cover the potential capital purchases you may have made to restructure your business operations. Please review your sums insured and speak to your usual Bridge contact to advise us of any changes.
Policy Conditions and Warranties
Other than what we have already discussed above, Covea have issued no guidance on this so we must advise you to contact us if you are now unable to comply with any of the policy conditions or warranties as a result of the restrictions in place.
We made a request that for those of you whose policy is due for renewal during the period whilst restrictions from the UK Government remain in place that Covea offer an automatic extension to your policy for a limited period of time. Covea have not responded to this request yet so when we contact you to conduct the renewal review and we can discuss any requirement for an extension with you.
Covea have not issued any guidance yet in respect of payment holidays or alterations to payment schedules if you are struggling to pay your monthly premium instalment to them. If you are struggling then please contact them in the first instance or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you pay your instalments through either Close Brothers or Premium Credit then both firms have advised us that they can show flexibility in your schedule of payments by offering limited payment holidays and extending the number of instalments. Both firms will consider each request on a case by case. In the first instance any such request must be made direct to them using the following contacts:
Premium Credit Limited:
Tel: 0344 736 9836 or 0330 123 9717
Close Brothers Limited:
Tel: 0333 321 8566 (Personal Lines)
0333 321 8567 (Commercial)
If you pay for your premium up front then you may want to consider paying it by instalment via one of our Premium Finance partners to help manage your cash flow.
If you think you miss a payment deadline then it is important that you contact us as soon as possible so we can assist you.
Motor Fleet Policies
If you, partner, director or an employee of the company wants to use their company vehicle for voluntary purposes to transport medicine or groceries to support others impacted by Covid-19 or for the activities of an NHS volunteer responder, your cover is not affected. Cover will be subject to the permission of the policyholder and is only applicable for an existing driver already on that policy and any policy conditions (e.g. driving restrictions or increased excesses) will continue to apply. This does not cover use for hire or reward purposes.
If your vehicles are laid up, SORN and kept off the public highway, please let us know and will approach Covea to see if they can offer Laid UP cover and provide a discount off your premium.
In these challenging and uncertain times we would like to reiterate that Bridge Insurance is deeply to committed to all our clients and we will continue to act in your best interests in these challenging times. We hope that the continued updates from the UK Government regarding financial assistance for business interruption due to the COVID19 pandemic, will prove of use to you. You can find out more details about this by clicking this link.
Our accountants have produced a very helpful analysis and summary of the financial assistance available from the UK Government and this available to you by clicking this link (https://www.baldwinsaccountants.co.uk/news-and-insights/covid-19)
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance.
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