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 3rd April 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;

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

NEW: 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 government announcement that businesses would be covered?

The Government’s announcement 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.

 

NEW: 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. 

 

UPDATED: 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. 

 

NEW: 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.   

 

NEW: 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.

 

Queries relating to unoccupied premises

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. However, certain standard restrictions in RSA policies for unoccupied properties will not be applied, provided that the period of closure does not exceed 90 days. What this means for such premises is that, for the period that they may be closed for the above reasons or for up to 90 days maximum (whichever is the shorter period):

1)      Where the policy wording excludes Malicious Damage, Escape of Water or Theft with respect to buildings that are empty or not in use, such exclusions will not apply

2)      Security and Inspection conditions applicable to Unoccupied Properties will not apply

 

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

We would encourage customers to notify us if their business premises have been closed as a result of the UK Government’s COVID-19 guidance or restrictions. However, we understand that these are difficult times and will not refuse to consider a claim simply because a customer has not specifically advised that a building is now closed as a direct consequence of UK Government COVID-19 guidance or restrictions.

 

NEW: 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

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.

 

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

How will we 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. Where visits to customers were due, we will be in contact to make alternative arrangements. A small number of our outsourced partners are continuing to offer visits but we don’t know how long this might last.

 

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.

 

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 and chat facility for our Glasgow E-Trade operation to manage reduced staffing levels. Instead, we are asking that all inquiries are sent to sme.extranet@uk.rsagroup.com

We’ll aim to respond to your queries within 48 hours, with urgent requests dealt with the same business day. 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 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. Please use our dedicated mailbox at COVID.brokerqueries@uk.rsagroup.com

 

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