Supporting you during the COVID-19 pandemic
Last updated: 17 September 2020
As the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are felt across the globe, our top priorities as a business are the wellbeing of our employees and their families, and ensuring we continue to support and deliver the highest level of service to our customers.
Our Emergency Management Group is continually meeting and reviewing guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UK and Irish Governments and our parent company, Munich Re.
This group is addressing active and ongoing disease surveillance, workforce protection and management, supply chain management and risks, travel and facility access restrictions, and quarantine measures as defined in our Business Continuity Plan.
The senior management team and Board of Directors of HSB take the COVID-19 threat seriously, and we want to assure you that we are prepared for a broad range of potential scenarios. We also want to reassure you that we continue to operate our business as usual.
Maintaining business as usual - here’s what we are doing
Our customer service teams remain committed to providing an uninterrupted service to our customers. All our officebased teams (including Business Development, E-Trade, customer services, Underwriting and Claims) are now working remotely. They have the technology and resources to ensure that it is business as usual, as far as it is possible, during these challenging times.
- All our customer service teams are available to help you with your new business and renewal enquiries.
- Our Claims team are available to support all first notice of loss and claims enquiries.
- Our e-trade solutions via HSB Fast Track and Acturis continue to be available to support our brokers and intermediaries with online trading for our insurance products.
- All office phones have been diverted to mobiles, so customers can continue to speak to their usual HSB contact.
- All emails are being dealt with in the usual manner. If you need to contact one of our customer service teams, click here for a list of their email addresses.
- All our employees have access to conferencing facilities, so are able to conduct meetings and customer appointments virtually
- We are operating our inspection services across the UK and Ireland, where we are able to do so, in line with the restrictions set by the UK and Irish governments, and in accordance with the guidance issued by the HSE, HSA and SAFed:
- In the UK, we continue to provide inspection services to all customers. During June, we will be recommencing equipment inspections in private domestic residential dwelllings (which, until now, have been excluded due to the greater health, safety and welfare risk exposure to our engineer surveyors). Inspections are in line with guidance from the HSE on Coronavirus.
- In Ireland, we are providing inspection services to all customers, where possible. During June, we will be recommencing equipment inspections in private domestic residential dwelllings (which, until now, have been excluded due to the greater health, safety and welfare risk exposure to our engineer surveyors). Inspections are in line with guidance from the HSA on Coronavirus.
- Our engineering customer support teams are available to help you with inspection enquiries.
- All our engineers are contacting customers due for inspections to discuss requirements.
How you can help us?
Here are some things you can do to help us to facilitate plant and equipment examinations at your premises, and ensure you meet your statutory inspection requirements:
- Contact us if you need to book your inspection by emailing our Engineering Business Support team, quoting your inspection contract number, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Provide us with alternative site contact details. This will enable us to organise the inspection if we can’t reach our normal contact. Please send your alternative contact information, quoting your inspection contract number, to our Engineering Business Support team at email@example.com.
- Allow us safe access to your premises (using the relevant official health and safety guidelines).
Important information: if you are reopening your business premises, please complete our online form.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees is of paramount importance to us. Steps being taken to keep our colleagues safe include the following:
- All our office-based teams are working remotely.
- All our engineer surveyors delivering statutory inspections in the UK and Ireland are checking the risk status of customer premises before they visit, and are being provided with the appropriate PPE equipment to enable them to safely work at customer locations.
- All employees with underlying health issues, or who are in an identified risk group, have identified themselves; so we can manage their work situation.
- We continue to communicate best practices for protecting employee health and ensuring the continued wellbeing of our employees.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued legal proceedings in June 2020 as part of a test case in the UK High Court. The aim of the test case was to provide some clarity and certainty for insurers and policyholders involved in disputes over non-damage business interruption (BI) cover for losses resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The FCA’s role was to put forward policyholders’ arguments to their best advantage, in the public interest, and remove the need for policyholders to resolve a number of key issues individually with their insurers.
The test case was heard in July 2020, and the High Court considered twenty-one representative sample policy wordings from eight insurers. The relevant business interruption provisions in those policies fell into three categories:
- ‘Disease’ – cover for business interruption in consequence of or following or arising from the occurrence of a notifiable disease within a specified radius of the insured premises;
- ‘Prevention of access/public authority’ – cover where there has been a prevention or hindrance of access to or use of the insured’s business premises as a consequence of government or other authority action or restrictions; and
- ‘Hybrid’ wordings – provisions which are engaged by restrictions imposed on the insured premises in relation to a notifiable disease.
The High Court’s judgment
On 15 September 2020, the High Court handed down its judgment in the test case. The judgment is complex, runs to over 150 pages, and deals with many issues. In summary:
- Most, but not all, of the ‘disease’ clauses in the sample policy wordings provide cover; and
- Certain ‘prevention of access’ clauses in the sample policy wordings may provide cover, depending on the wording of the particular clause and how the particular policyholder business was affected by the UK Government’s response to the pandemic.
In their press release on 15 September 2020, the FCA made it clear that the test case was not intended to encompass all disputes. Instead, each policy wording needs to be considered against the detailed judgment to determine what it means for that particular policy, and each claim needs to be considered on its own merits.
What this means for HSB
HSB were not one of the insurers named as a party to the test case proceedings, and we do not believe that the final resolution of the test case will affect the outcome of any claims made under our policies. However, based on our initial review:
- The High Court’s judgment is generally consistent with and supports the approach that we have taken to date in relation to the limited business interruption covers that we provide; and
- We will continue to review the judgment in detail and look to apply any guidance and clarity provided, to the extent that this is relevant to any of the business interruption covers that we provide in respect of the machinery and equipment that we insure.
Where can I find further information and updates about the test case?
Further information and updates on the latest status of the test case can be found on the FCA website at: https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/business-interruption-insurance
Policyholders may also wish to subscribe directly for regular email updates from the FCA which can be requested by completing the form accessed on the FCA website at: https://www.fca.org.uk/sign-business-interruption-bi-insurance-email-updates
Information issued by the Financial Ombudsman Service for consumers and small businesses relating to the test case and its approach to complaints can be found on the Financial Ombudsman Service website at: https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/businesses/complaints-deal/complaints/coronavirus-covid-19-information-businesses