Are you correctly covered for lockdown life?

Now that many firms and organisations have either closed or reduced their operations, more people are working remotely. There are far fewer people commuting into or working at business premises because of the lockdown.

A resultant reduction in road traffic collisions, accidents in the workplace, vandalism and theft would seem a likely consequence. Conversely, people spending more time at home could increase the chances of accidents indoors. There are also issues about how to define workplace incidents, as who is liable when the place of work has now changed?

Let’s be realistic. It is unlikely that every single person will have undertaken a thorough workplace assessment from their home. Given the fast pace of the spread of COVID-19 and implementation of the lockdown, many employers will have understandably struggled to get a full risk assessment in place for all staff.

Many new homeworkers will not have the equipment or facilities meeting the minimum health and safety standards if working in an office environment.

There is also the dilemma about liability for office equipment, such as computers and monitors. Could a temporary removal of contents extension to cover work equipment in the homes of employees be a workable solution?

The wellbeing of staff remotely should also be regularly observed. Pressures will increase over time, so while a member of staff may be coping well at first, it shouldn’t be assumed they will continue to do so. While employers are not qualified to be counsellors, providing appropriate levels of support is necessary. With reports of domestic violence increasing, it is important to monitor situations carefully to see how people are coping, and the additional pressures they face at home, to be able to flag important issues.

With people spending more time at home, it is also likely that there will be other accidents and breakages. Damage to contents and property will no doubt increase. However, repairs and replacements may take longer than usual. But will the increase of these claims affect premiums in the future? Have they notified their household insurers that they are now working form home?
By contrast, there are now many unoccupied business properties. Will their premiums be reduced in the face of lack of claims? And how will insurance respond to their lack of use? Will the rules around unoccupied property inspections be relaxed by insurers, waiving their right to have them inspected?

Similarly, will unoccupied property conditions be waived due to lack of time and resources imposed by the lockdown? The same is also relevant for contract sites where projects have been halted. Usually there is a limit of an amount of days before which the insurer no longer provides cover for works. Some wordings have 90 days. For those clients with where the wording can be just 30 days, could there be an agreement due to the current circumstances that the cessation of work cover is extended? Our advice would be to speak to your broker and check you cover.

The current situation is beyond the control of many, raising whether reasonable adjustments can be made to recognise this. Businesses and employees have had to react very quickly, leaving them no time to make proper arrangements or to have the correct types of cover to reflect this.

As the lockdown increases there will be more issues that need addressing where insurers or clients will be limited in what they can do with the products they have. Insurance will be relied on by many, however the existing terms and conditions may no longer acknowledge the extreme circumstances we are currently under.