The main area of concern, naturally, for most business owners is lack of income. And in regards to emerging illnesses this is not where insurance can assist. In general terms insurance is not designed or capitalised to cover major global systemic risks, particularly pandemics. To be that broad it would be much more expensive to buy. The vast majority of SME policies offered only provide cover for a known and specified disease breaking out at the premises. Some will offer cover for 'notifiable' diseases breaking out at or within a specified distance from the premise, but as already stated these policies are far less common and considerably more expensive. The Government indicated in the Chancellor’s statement on 17 March 2020 that they have done enough for insurance policies to be ‘triggered’. The Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers Association have both contacted the Government to advise the limitations.
So where does that leave you, the business person? Firstly you need to read your policy wording, did you take business interruption cover? If yes does it provide cover for disease? If yes then is the cover for 'notifiable' disease? Only if the answer to all these is 'yes' will there be any chance of a claim being accepted.
For the vast majority of businesses it is the Government who will be providing you with assistance. Please do review the Government website to access the support most suited to your business.
Employers also need to understand their duties if they ask employees to work from home. All liability policies we offer provide cover throughout the UK (other than certain specified high risk locations). As such you will be protected if you ask your staff to work from home. However you still need to ensure they have a safe working environment and you should ensure they have access to the certificate of employers liability from their workplace. Usually this means storing it on a common drive on your business systems, but some firms like to print the actual document and hand to each employee to take home.
What about equipment belonging to your company in employees homes? There are 2 main scenario here. Many office policies cover business equipment temporarily removed from the office to another location. And most home contents insurances cover business equipment in the home up to a set figure. If you are worried about business equipment being taken home by staff and the possibility of a fire, flood or theft at their home you should check firstly your own policy and then ask the staff member to check their home insurance.
Information correct as of 23 March 2020