Further to our recent communications, this update is intended to give our brokers and clients some further peace of mind during these difficult times following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Whilst we are seeing restrictions on certain businesses being eased by the government, many businesses remain closed and their premises continue to be unoccupied. On 25th March 2020 we advised all existing policyholders of our decision to extend the definition of “unoccupied” as shown in our policy wordings to 90 days to ensure our policyholders did not have their cover restricted in these unprecedented circumstances.

As some businesses continue to open we understand that there will still be some policyholders, such as those in the restaurant and leisure industries, that will not yet be able to open for trade. We recognise that these are worrying times for our policyholders and therefore we are pleased to confirm that we have extended our unoccupancy definition from 90 to 120 days.

Important – As advised previously, this temporary policy definition update only applies to:

  • existing commercial package and landlords’ policies incepted &/or renewed up to and including 25/03/2020 only; and
  • premises where unoccupancy has occurred only because of Covid-19 and subsequent government imposed restrictions.

For the avoidance of doubt, this definition extension does not apply to any new business quoted or incepted on or after 26/03/2020. All other policy terms, conditions and exclusions remain unchanged.

Existing Policies – Compliance with Unoccupied Risk Management Requirements

Please can you ensure your clients continue to follow our guidelines set out previously if their business is still unoccupied as this represents a greater risk of loss or damage occurring and it is important that our mutual clients continue to take measures to protect their property.

Our decision to extend the definition of “unoccupied” is subject to all policyholders applying appropriate best endeavours to manage and protect their premises, including:

1)   applying appropriate security measures including all available security devices being put into full and effective operation; and

2)   inspection of the business/buildings internally and externally by an authorised person at least once per week to check the security and general condition of the premises in accordance with government advice and action.

Customers should record any property inspections undertaken in writing and make such record available for our inspection should it be necessary in the event of a claim.

We can confirm that any claims and/or policies involving unoccupied premises as a result of Covid-19 will be considered on a case by case basis depending on individual circumstances and where we can be satisfied that the policyholder(s) were not reasonably able to comply with our requirements. We will consider a number of factors including but not limited to the extent of the non-compliance with our risk management requirements, government rules and advice in place during the relevant period, the location of the policyholder and the location of the risk address.

New business quotations for premises that have become unoccupied due to COVID-19

We understand that in some cases it will not be possible for a policyholder to fully comply with our policy conditions applying to unoccupied premises, therefore all quotes will be considered on a case by case basis depending on individual circumstances.

A number of factors will be taken into account including but not limited to government rules and advice in place during the relevant period, the location of the policyholder and the location of the risk address.

Feel free to talk to one of our underwriters who will be happy to try to help your clients cover any business that is currently unoccupied.

Change in Risks and Working from Home

We also understand the impact recent events have and will continue to have on insured businesses and are doing what we can to help our policyholders through these difficult times.

We can therefore confirm that where our policyholders have made the decision to continue to run their business from home, they do not need to tell us. Policyholders and their employees undertaking clerical work from home will not invalidate the policy.

In the event policyholders and/or their staff are undertaking any manual work from home or where quantities of stock and/or contents are being moved from insured premises, please ensure that you discuss the activities being undertaken from home with our underwriters where consideration in cover will be given on a case by case basis.

If you would like to speak to any member of staff directly, please continue to dial 020-7256-3100 followed by their extension number which can be found here.

As always, we wish you and your families safety and good health during these difficult times.