07801 250 668secretary@uckfieldchamber.co.uk

The most immediate issue is that in many cases your business premises are now closed and effectively you have an unoccupied office, factory etc. In normal circumstances arranging insurance for empty premises can be difficult. Most policies automatically bring in cover restrictions once a property is unoccupied for more than a relatively short period.

Many insurers have accepted that the current situation is quite exceptional and have been prepared to waive any automatic requirements until the property has been empty for 90 days in many cases although some are only moving as far 60 days. A small minority are sticking to what’s in the policy wording, which will mean you need to inform them straight away.

The important things to do are:

• Tell your insurers / brokers what you are doing. i.e. premises are empty and you are visiting say weekly to collect post and check the building remains secure
• Where your staff are now home based tell your insurers and let them know if you have moved items that need insurance to the home of your employees
• If you have changed your activities tell them what you are doing – for example if you are a restaurant and are now delivering meals let your insurers know (I would expect them to provide cover without fuss or charge in most cases)

Most businesses will find that because of the crisis their income is sharply down and in many cases staff have been furloughed. Thus, is it worth considering your circumstances and:

• Look at the turnover figures you declared to your insurers and work out what you now expect to achieve and advise them of any reduction
• Do the same for your wages and see what you are now projecting
• Look at the amount of cover you have on stock and see if this can be reduced

We are in the process of going through this exercise with our clients with a view to asking insurers to re-calculate premiums to reflect the reduced risk. This tends to work with clients who have larger combined type policies where turnover and wages can be a major rating factor. For those with packaged policies you are unlikely to save on your premium unless you reduce your stock.

Finally, beware of changing insurers during the lock down. Whilst insurers are being sympathetic to existing customers over unoccupancy most will apply cover restrictions on any new case put to them. Indeed, a number are not taking on any new cases where the business premises is now empty or even when the business is working at a recued capacity. Be especially careful if you arrange cover on line as it can be very difficult to make the current circumstances fit the questions you are asked.

If any Chamber member wants help or advice, please let me know…

David Byrne FCII
Chartered insurance Broker
David Haskoll Ltd
01825 747760