Commercial Lines COVID-19 FAQs

We are working as hard as possible to make sure that our employees can continue to provide services and support to you and to customers. Over the coming days and weeks we will continue to update this page.

Page last updated - Friday 18th September 2020

We are asking that all customers contact their brokers for support and advice in the first instance. The contacts and FAQs below are intended to support you to manage these enquiries.

  • To register a claim, brokers should email us.  All of our contact details can be found on our claims pages.
  • If you’re unable to find what you need below and still need to discuss a customer’s policy where you think a relevant extension may apply, please email our new dedicated mailbox at COVID.brokerqueries@uk.rsagroup.com.

Please note that we are operating at a reduced capacity as a result of employee absence and are handling a significant number of inquiries. You can find an update on service here.

 

Frequently asked questions

We understand that during this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, having clarity about your insurance cover is important to you and your customers. The following FAQs should be read alongside applicable policy terms and conditions and are intended to provide helpful guidance, but we acknowledge that there will continue to be circumstances or unique facts that individual customers will be facing which you will still need to contact us about.

Click on the below headers to take you to the area you need;

FCA test case

Queries relating to temporary financial diffculty

Queries relating to Business Interruption

Queries relating to unoccupied premises

Queries relating to other policy cover

Queries relating to claims

Queries relating to risk management

Queries relating to service

  

Queries relating to Business Interruption

 Will Business Interruption policies with RSA cover customers’ losses as a result of Covid-19? 

In the majority of cases, standard Business Interruption policies will not cover losses arising from Covid-19, whether as a result of the presence of the disease on your Premises, or the Government enforced closure of businesses. 

If a customer has purchased a Notifiable Disease extension, then this may provide cover for some losses, if the closure or restriction of the customer’s Premises is directly as a result of the discovery of Covid-19 at or, in some cases, within the vicinity of the Premises. The policy wording will outline this. If this applies to your customer, you should get in touch to discuss a claim. 

 

How does this relate to the government announcement that businesses would be covered?

The Government’s announcement in March related specifically to policies with specific pandemic cover or specific pandemic extensions. If policies do include pandemic cover, insurers are not requiring an “enforced” lockdown to trigger business interruption terms. The government “guidance” that businesses should close is sufficient, so long as other terms and conditions are met. However there are very few pandemic policies or policies with pandemic extensions.

Pandemic cover is different from infectious disease cover, which is more common and is covered in the next question.

 

How does the Government requirement that non-essential businesses close from 23rd March 2020 impact cover for these businesses? 

Neither standard Business Interruption policies nor those with a Notifiable Disease extension would cover losses incurred by non-essential businesses after the wider Government restrictions, as those losses are not incurred as a result of an insured risk under the policy.   

Customers who have a Business Interruption policy with a Notifiable Disease extension may however be able to claim for certain losses suffered after Covid-19 was declared a notifiable disease (5th March in England), but prior to the wider Government action to close non-essential businesses on 23rd March. 

 

If my customer’s suppliers are affected by Covid-19, will business interruption cover apply?

Most policies will not respond to this as a trigger for business interruption cover, unless specific extensions relating to pandemic have been added. See the previous questions for how Business Interruption policies with RSA may cover certain losses as a result of Covid-19. 

 

What about if a business is still open? 

If a business is open because it was not required to close as part of Government’s measures, but is or has been closed as a result of the discovery of Covid-19 at or in the vicinity of the Premises, the customer may also be able to claim for certain losses suffered after 23rd March.   

 

What is RSA’s position on subsequent loss/damage following a closure of a premises by the Government?

If premises have been closed on the order of the government and, for example, subsequently a theft occurs, we would regard the theft (by another party) as a new and intervening cause and the claim would be handled in accordance with the circumstances of the claim and the policy terms and conditions (including any risk management restrictions for unoccupied premises as described in subsequent FAQs). 

 

Will you be offering renewal extensions on business interruption policies if my customer or broking team is off sick?

We will do this only in very exceptional cases, and recommend that these renewals are prioritised in resource planning.

 

FCA test case

On Tuesday 15th September 2020, the court posted its judgment in relation to the test case on business interruption claims led by the FCA on behalf of policyholders. RSA was a party to these proceedings. The judgment is as expected very lengthy and complex, and we alongside other parties to the case are now working through the impact at policy wording and customer level.

You can read the judgment here or visit the FCA’s business interruption hub for more information. Scott Egan, CEO of RSA UK and International, said:

 

 “Throughout the pandemic RSA has been settling claims from both commercial and personal lines customers, as well as participating in industry initiatives to support communities around the UK. We’re committed to continuing to play our part to help individuals and businesses manage and recover from the impact of Covid-19.

“The test case set out to consider how a number of business interruption policy wordings should respond to Covid-19, and today’s judgment is an important milestone for customers and for insurers. It is also a complex judgment, and it will take some time for all parties involved to review it. We are now working through the judgment to determine next steps, and we will continue to work with our partners to communicate fully with our policyholders throughout the coming weeks, whether they have currently made a claim with us or not.”

 

What happens next?

All parties to the case are now reviewing the judgment, including considering whether there are aspects they may now wish to appeal. A hearing to address the question of appeals will be held in October.

 

Will RSA now be paying claims?

Until appeals are confirmed or ruled out, the legal process is ongoing, so our position on outstanding claims and cover available under RSA policies does not change. We will reach out to customers to confirm this. We are committed to continuing to keep our customers informed on the status of their individual claims, and processing them as quickly as possible once a final legal position is reached.

 

Do customers need to resubmit claims?

No, if you have already sent us your claim we will review it once the relevant legal processes are concluded. We will keep you updated on the status of your claim throughout.

 

If a customer has not made a claim yet, what information do they need to send RSA to make a claim now?

If you have already made a claim then you do not need to do anything further at this stage and we will keep you updated as the next steps in the legal process progress. If you have not made a claim, and wish to make one, then please speak to your broker who will help you with this.

For More Th>n business customers we need your name, address, policy number and details of what claim you wish to make and your contact details.

 

When will we know if there will be an appeal?

This will be determined by the court in a hearing during October.

 

How long would an appeal take?

This would be determined by the court, but all parties are keen to continue to move the process to resolution as quickly as possible.

 

Can customers still complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service?

FOS rights are not changed by this test case. Customers will first need to direct complaints to RSA at crt.halifax@uk.rsagroup.com. RSA then have eight weeks in which to provide a Final Response Letter. If, having received that, a customer remains dissatisfied then they can refer their complaint to the FOS free of charge.

 

Queries relating to unoccupied premises

NEW: What is your approach to additional premiums for unoccupied premises at the current time?

For 120 days, RSA did not make any change to the premium charged as a result of unoccupancy for buildings that are temporary closed. This period expired on 21st July 2020. RSA now regards any building that still remain closed within any territory within the United Kingdom as an unoccupied building. All terms and conditions of your policy will apply as usual and Risk Management guidance provided by RSA on securing the premises must be followed.

An additional premium may be required. 

If your customer’s premises remain closed, you are required to notify RSA of this – please email your usual Underwriting contact or COVID.brokerqueries@uk.rsagroup.com.

 

NEW: What is RSA’s approach to buildings or business premises that have been closed due to coronavirus where the business

a)      Decides to protect their business by working from home or

b)      Has been instructed to close by the local authority or by the Government?

RSA would consider such business premises to be temporarily unoccupied.

For 120 days, RSA did not apply certain standard restrictions in RSA policies for unoccupied properties. This period expired on 21st July 2020 and RSA is now treating buildings that still remain closed in line with its normal approach to unoccupied buildings.  All terms and conditions of your policy will apply as usual and any applicable Risk Management guidance provided by RSA on securing the premises must be followed.

There will be a number of circumstances where concessions will be considered:

  • Where Government guidance states that premises must remain closed e.g. theatres – we will consider waiving the requirement that combustibles be removed from the buildings
  • Single owner businesses that are closed for two weeks whilst the owner self-isolates – the premises will not be treated as empty or not in use for the period of this short term closure
  • Building shut for cleaning because a person present at that building has been reported as having COVID-19 symptoms – such buildings will be expected to reopen as soon as the cleaning has completed, so the closure for cleaning will be considered as a short term closure and the building will not be treated as empty or not in use for this period
  • Local area lockdowns - the original concession by RSA on buildings closed as a consequence of the UK-wide lockdown will apply to any buildings that have to be closed within an area that is locked down as a consequence of the requirement to control a local spike in coronavirus infections. However, the concession will only apply for a period of 30 days or until the date upon which the local lockdown restrictions end, whichever is the earlier.

An additional premium may be required.

If your customer’s property remains closed whether as a consequence of one of the above or for other reasons, you are required to notify RSA of this – please email your usual Underwriting contact or COVID.brokerqueries@uk.rsagroup.com.

 

NEW: What Notification does RSA require from customers confirming that a business premises has been closed?

Now that the national lockdown is coming to an end, some buildings will remain closed because of the individual circumstances of the business or owner. There can no longer be a presumption that RSA knows that a building continues to be closed.  If your customer’s property remains closed, you are required to notify RSA of this – please email your usual Underwriting contact or COVID.brokerqueries@uk.rsagroup.com

 

What approach will RSA take on buildings that were already Unoccupied before the COVID-19 restrictions were imposed?

For buildings or business premises that were already vacant prior to the imposition of the applicable UK Government restrictions, there will be no change to the cover restrictions, policy conditions or specific requirements that would have already been applied to maintain policy cover.

If any of the imposed conditions or requirements, including those involving the regular inspection of premises, now present an issue as a consequence of the UK Government restrictions, please refer to your usual RSA underwriter.

 

 

Queries relating to other policy cover

What cover will RSA provide for business equipment that has been temporarily removed from the business premises to enable employees to work from home?

RSA expects that such equipment will be predominantly computer equipment. Customers who buy RSA Computer Insurance cover will already have cover provided anywhere in the world. In addition, RSA Computer cover will now allow up to a 20% increase in sum insured (up to a maximum of £250,000) to cater for any additional computer equipment that has to be purchased to allow for home working.

The following additional terms will be applicable:

  • Theft from unattended vehicles will be covered but will be limited to £5,000 in respect of any one loss
  • When such items are left in unattended vehicles, they must be locked in a separate boot area or otherwise be obscured from view

RSA Property Damage covers do not automatically provide cover for business equipment removed from the business premises. However, for the period that the relevant COVID-19 restrictions by the UK Government remain in force, RSA will automatically provide additional cover for items temporarily removed to the home of an employee to enable working from home for a Sum Insured of £5,000 per home and a single article limit of £2,500.  Other relevant policy terms and conditions will continue to apply.

 

Will you be offering renewal extensions on other policies if my customer or broking team is off sick?

In these instances we will of course as always do our best to support, offering limited extensions on a case by case basis.

 

Will we accept policyholders wanting to cancel their cover?

Customers retain the right to cancel their policy in line with the relevant policy wording.  We will continue to ensure no barriers to customers needing to take this course of action. 

 

Will policyholders be allowed to change their cover in light of changes in circumstance as a result of COVID-19?

We will look to support our customers with any changes although will need to be notified by their broker on the specific changes in line with their business needs.

 

We have furloughed some of our employees. How will this impact my renewal premium?

If employees are undertaking NO activity at all for the business, their wageroll does not need to be included in the renewal estimates. If the employer is also making the up the 20% shortfall, this does not need to be included either.  The renewal premium will be based on these estimates, but may be subject to adjustment at the end of the period of insurance based on declared wageroll values.

 

Our turnover, wages or employee numbers will reduce as we are not working due to COVID-19. Will we get a premium refund mid-term or at the end of the period of Insurance?

The standard liability policy wording contains a Premium Adjustment Condition and is adjustable at the end of the period of insurance based on declared wageroll and turnover values.

 

We have a number of staff now carrying out alternative duties or working from home - how will this impact our insurance and our premium?

You should tell us about these changes now. RSA will need to re-assess the risk based on the revised information provided.  This may affect the premium charged and any terms applied but these will be discussed with you. Should the situation change again before the next renewal date of your liability policy, you should tell us again about those changes.

 

We have a number of our vehicles off the road currently and have officially SORN them because of this. How does that affect our premium?

We will accommodate customer requests to reduce policy cover to Laid Up Fire and Theft for vehicles which are officially SORN and your policy premium will be adjusted accordingly.

 

With MOT's now extended by 6 months by the Government, what is your position on cover for these vehicles within that period?

Extension to MOT's have no impact on policy cover although it is important to note that the presence of a valid MOT (including an extended MOT) and vehicle roadworthiness are two separate matters.  Fleet customers should continue to ensure vehicles are roadworthy regardless of the presence of a valid MOT.

 

Will you offer your customers the option to change the basis of their policy to a declaration basis in light of the current situation?

Consistent with usual practice, RSA would prefer to provide renewal offers based upon values declared by customers at the commencement of the period of insurance which reflect what the customer expects to be their forthcoming turnover, wageroll and business interruption values. Nonetheless RSA recognises that the exceptional circumstances that arise from the UK restrictions now in place to slow the spread of coronavirus mean that there could be some customers who may not be able to calculate the expected changes to their turnover, wageroll and business interruption values that may arise before their policy is due for renewal.

Packages policies will include lines of business that are not usually adjustable, but where a customer is not certain what the impact of the restrictions are going to be on their business, RSA may agree to renew the policy for twelve months using the existing estimates but allow a reduction of 20% in the premium. At the end of the period of insurance, RSA will require a declaration of the actual turnover, wageroll and business interruption values acheived for that period of insurance. A revised premium will then be calculated based upon the values being declared. If the revised premium calculated is less than the 80% premium that was originally charged, no return or refund of premium will be allowed. If the revised premium calculated exceeds the premium that was charged by RSA at the commencement of the period of insurance, the difference between the premium charged and the revised premium calculated will be due and payable by the customer.

These terms will be available to customers whose periods of insurance commence between 1st May 2020 and 31st July 2020 only. RSA may extend this period at its discretion.

 

Queries relating to claims

What precautions are you taking when making claims payments?

Due to the impact of COVID19 and our need to ensure that customers no longer need to venture out to bank cheques we are now issuing all payments via BACS or EFT where there is no BACS capability.

We will request bank account details at the earliest opportunity as we deal with the claim so that payments can be easily facilitated. As an additional security precaution you or your customer can call us back on the number provided on claims documentation.

 

If a customer suffers a non Covid-19 related large loss, how we will support the processing of that claim?

From a Major Damage perspective we continue to have a team of experts with full IT capability to handle large losses.  This team is maintaining contact with loss adjusters and other experts to ensure we provide an uninterrupted service to our customers.  This is constantly under review given the speed at which the situation is developing and we will continue to update on any changes.

 

In the current situation there may be instances in which customers don’t submit claims in a timely fashion, breaching the late notification of claims clause. Will you ensure that consideration is given to these claims?

We recognise that we are operating in a hugely unusual set of circumstances, and consideration will be given where customers or brokers are not physically able to report issues. These will be considered on a case by case basis.

 

Queries relating to risk management

NEW: Where can I find risk management advice relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, protection and response?

Up-to-date best practice guidance, including measures businesses need to take to ensure their workplaces are COVID-secure, is available via the following:

  • Government guidance on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19).  E.g. in England
  • The government agency responsible for encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety & welfare.  Guidance is both general (e.g. risk assessments) and specific to coronavirus (COVID-19).  E.g. in the UK (ex.NI) the Health & Safety Executive [HSE]
  • A relevant trade or industry body, many of which have online resources specific to coronavirus (COVID-19)

This guidance should be incorporated into and maintained within an organisation’s existing health & safety management framework.  This should include recording the measures taken and ensuring there is a regular review process to verify that up-to-date guidance is being used and that assessments and policies are maintained.

Further risk management guidance can be found here

 

NEW: How will RSA be supporting risk consulting visits over the coming weeks and months?

We continue to keep in touch with customers and issue our bulletins to support them to keep their businesses safe. We have resumed fieldwork including site surveys in line with a new set of operating procedures. These are designed to ensure we minimise the risk of spreading the virus, and maintain the safety of our customers, employees and partners. We keep our work pipeline under active review and prioritise visits or make alternative arrangements where practical.

 

If a customer has got deadlines and timescales for risk improvements within their policies, will we hold customers to these?

We’ll review on a case by case basis based on the nature of the risk improvement and a customers’ ability to implement the change in the circumstances. We will need to take a balanced approach to this.

 

How should I advise a customer how best to protect their unoccupied premises or meet other warranties given the developing situation?

We have put together some detailed general property guidance during periods of reduced staffing or restricted access to help you support your customers. We are also committed to following the ABI customer pledge “Supporting unoccupied businesses when temporarily closed”, we encourage you to visit the dedicated COVID-19 page on the ABI website for further guidance on protecting your premises as well as additional advice for your customers during this difficult time.

 

How should I advise a customer if they need to temporarily close their construction site?

Review our best practice advice and guidance for contractors and employers on the precautions that need to be taken if a construction site is temporarily closed.

 

How should I advise a customer if they need to store the majority or all of their vehicle fleet at one location?
This could expose your customer to a much higher risk of loss. Review our best practice advice and guidance to help businesses put the right controls in place to help tackle this.

 

What is our approach to statutory inspections?

We will expect customers to do what they can to service these, but we recognise the challenges in doing so given the developing situation. We are regularly reviewing our position and will keep you updated.

  

Queries relating to service

How will RSA continue to service brokers if you have high sickness levels over the next few months?

We have robust business continuity plans in place but inevitably with higher employee absence there will be prioritisation. We are actively working to move resource around the organisation to support frontline teams.

 

What specific measures are you taking to help your people to stay safe as the situation with COVID-19 develops?

We are following government guidance closely to protect our employees and as of 17th March all RSA employees who can work from home are doing so. In our operational sites we have implemented new ways of working to enable social distancing. We are also taking into account the impact of school closures and supporting our employees to work more flexibly so they can balance their responsibilities more easily.

 

Will working from home or prolonged staff absence disrupt the levels of customer service we can expect from you?

We are doing everything we can to maintain service levels but as the situation develops we do expect to be operating at a reduced capacity. Therefore, we will be temporarily closing our phone lines but Live Chat is open for Non-Motor for our Glasgow E-Trade operation to manage reduced staffing levels. 

We’ll aim to respond to your queries as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

We understand that during this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, having clarity about your insurance cover is important to you and your customers. The FAQs should be read alongside applicable policy terms and conditions and are intended to provide helpful guidance, but we acknowledge that there will continue to be circumstances or unique facts that individual customers will be facing which you will still need to contact us about. Please use our dedicated mailbox at COVID.brokerqueries@uk.rsagroup.com

 

We understand that in these extraordinary times your customers may experience financial difficulties, we have put together some guidance to help you support your customers here.

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