Shirley Greer of Scrutton Bland is a specialist in insurance cover for charities and has provided this guide for Clinks members to address some of the questions you may have about your insurance liabilities during the coronavirus lockdown.
Will my insurance cover me for financial loss because of the pandemic?
The tremendous changes in our lives in recent months have required everyone to adapt to different ways of doing business. In many cases this has involved checking insurance policies to see if there is any aspect of the current crisis that is covered by existing insurance covers.
Unfortunately, most insurers are not indemnifying organisations for their financial losses arising from this pandemic. Epidemics and pandemics are almost always excluded from business interruption insurance policies. This is partly because the economic losses from viral outbreaks like Covid-19 are very hard to measure, as they rarely cause immediate physical damage to a business in the same way as a fire or flood. There are also very few business models for insurers to use to calculate risk and loss, so there are no specific insurance solutions currently available for the UK market to provide cover against coronavirus. For this type of cover to be available and affordable, it would need a very significant subsidy from the government given the scale of business disruption we have seen with the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, we have found that most insurers have been flexible in respect of the following covers:
- Unoccupancy up to 60 days full cover at no extra cost. Additional cover for computers whilst at home and in transit
- Employers’ Liability noted to cover all staff whilst working at home and for the normal charitable activities and outreach work you may do
Regarding homeworking, there are some risk assessment guidelines on the government website. Most policies do not require a risk assessment, however having one may help with any Employers’ Liability claims in respect of liability.
What are the top 3 issues I should be concerned about?
Since entering lockdown we have had many enquiries regarding insurance cover, but we have found the following three issues to be the most common and from a Trustee board’s perspective the easiest to overlook:
Will my Employers’ / Public Liability insurance cover a Covid-19 claim from a staff member?
It is possible that your organisation could be liable to a claim from a member of staff if they thought they had caught the virus whilst working for you. However, your organisation would have to be proven negligent in some way, before any such claim could be considered under the policy. In the event of a claim, if you can show that your organisation has carried out all the required checks and assessments, and the employee has contracted the virus unknowingly, then the insurer would support the organisation in the claim. However, if it is proven that an organisation is aware that PPE should have been provided but it has not been given to the people in that organisation, or that the organisation has not followed government guidelines, then this could be deemed as a wilful act and the organisation may be liable/ and their staff member’s claim could be investigated.
It is imperative that your organisation follows the government guidelines and has robust risk assessments in place. You should also ensure that you retain documentary evidence for this for at least three years.
Trustee Indemnity Insurance
Trustee Indemnity insurance is a cover which relates to unintentional acts by trustees of the charity. If a decision was shown to have been made which contravened government guidelines, then there would be no cover. Just like Employers’ Liability above, if a claim was made for Trustee Indemnity, you would need to ensure you have documentary evidence to defend the claim.
The services my organisation provides have been adapted, how will this affect my insurance?
One of the more positive aspects of the lockdown has been how many organisations have either adapted the existing services they provide and/or developed new services to ensure that vulnerable people receive the support they need. It is crucial with any change in service that you speak to your insurance broker to ensure that your policy is updated to reflect any change to your services or activities. Failing to do so could leave your Trustees and possibly the wider organisation at risk to a claim.
- How can I protect my organisation from cyber-attacks whilst many staff work from home?
With many of us now using the internet to access our work, and spending ever more time working online from home, the risk of cyber crime has significantly increased.
Protect your organisation by:
- Advising staff on the correct use of work equipment.
- Communicating with your colleagues to explain and give examples of what phishing, hacking and other fraudulent emails look like, and emphasise not to click on any links within them.
- Only downloading apps from secure sources and official websites. There is government guidance online, for example the National Cyber Security Centre website has straightforward advice on how to spot suspicious emails.
- Setting up multi-factor authentication for business accounts, such as a login password followed by a numeric code sent to your phone.
- Ensuring that your software is up to date in respect of keeping anti-malware and intrusion packages up to date.
- Participating in the government-backed Cyber Essentials scheme which will help determine if your organisation has basic technical controls in place to deter the most common cyber-attacks.
- Finally, if you have cyber liability cover, some insurers will reduce or even remove an excess if 80% of your staff successfully undertake online courses.
For more information on insurance, including cyber insurance, please email Shirley or one of her colleagues at email@example.com. Scrutton Bland are sponsoring this year’s Clinks annual conference where Shirley will be running a cybercrime workshop, so please come and discuss your concerns with her.
Scrutton Bland has also been running a series of initiatives to help businesses and charities stay informed about other aspects of support and advice they may need at this time. To sign up to our free webinars please go to www.scruttonbland.co.uk or speak to us on 0330 058 6559.
Scrutton Bland Insurance Brokers Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Our FCA registered number is 828934.
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