The Coronavirus has shaken the world of work to its foundations. Businesses across the globe have been forced to move to remote working or shut up shop completely. Supply chains have been brought to their knees owing to shortages of labour and financial institutions from banks to insurance brokers have been deluged with questions from concerned clients. In 3 short months Covid-19 has gone from a periodic page 5 story from a distant foreign correspondent to daily headline news.
One of the most striking things about this crisis has been how it has pervaded every sector of the economy. From manufacturers to hauliers, landlords to tradesmen, business owners of all kinds have had to make rapid adjustments to the way they do business in the short-term. But what of the long-term? Will the outbreak usher in sustained changes to the way all work and to how we insure our businesses or will it be business-as-usual once the all-clear is given?
As an independent insurance broker, we’ve seen how the outbreak has affected a wide array of businesses first-hand. In this new blog, Coversure Poole’s Managing Director John Palmer considers the changes that may be ahead and what it may mean for Dorset’s business owners. We hope it will be of interest, but if you have any concerns regarding your insurance – whether you’re a customer or not – then please get in touch. You can call us on (01202) 851 782, email us here or get a no-obligation insurance quote here.
Will Pandemic Cover Become a Business Insurance Essential?
The moment the crisis took hold our ‘phones started ringing and our inboxes filled with questions regarding business insurance, specifically with regard as to whether business interruption cover would apply in this situation. The short answer, alas, is no. Very few policies have pandemic cover included and those that do are mainly taken out by large corporations. Will this change in the future? I’ve already had conversations with clients regarding adding pandemic cover to their package. Given there are already plenty of reports in the news that outbreaks like this are likely to become more common thanks to globalisation and the effects of climate change, it’s got people worried. At the moment it’s the must-have cover that everybody wishes they had, that everybody thinks they need, but which few can realistically afford. Whether this will change in the future largely depends on the insurers. As with any new policy – cyber insurance cover, for example – it starts out as being relatively expensive only to fall as demand rises and competition becomes keener.
Time will tell, but I’d suggest that some form of more affordable cover will be made available soon. As to whether it remains widely available and taken up is another matter. Cyber insurance is affordable, the threat ever-present and growing – over 50% of UK businesses were attacked in 2019 according to Hiscox – and yet take up of policies remains low with the majority of policy holders being those who’ve fallen victim to a cyber-crime. Ultimately, people’s memories are short and when it comes to renewing their business insurance, their desire to cut costs may trump their desire to protect against another unlikely event.
As any landlord what their biggest headache is and most will say unoccupied property. Not only is an empty property an asset turned into a liability, it also brings problems in terms of landlord insurance. Vacant premises present a higher risk to insurers as they are more vulnerable and because most standard property policies see cover reduced or even ended if a building is left unoccupied for a sustained period of time, sometimes a little as 30 days, they often require additional unoccupied property insurance.
In normal times, unoccupied properties aren’t something that most business owners have to worry about. These though are not normal times. Businesses up and down the land have been forced to close their doors and leave their premises empty at very short notice. Since the announcement of the government’s lockdown, police and business owners have reported a sharp rise in criminal activity according to the BBC. One unfortunate business owner was burgled the day after they closed their doors.
If pandemics are to become more common, then do businesses need to consider including unoccupied property protection in their business cover? To be honest, probably not, but they should have it now. While this type of policy can be expensive specialist brokers such as ourselves can offer affordable, highly-flexible unoccupied property insurance quotes that can protect your premises for days, weeks or even months in no time at all.
Remote Workers’ Insurance
Up until a few weeks ago homeworkers’ insurance was something I was rarely asked about. While the number of people in the UK who work from home has grown steadily since the year 2000 with an estimated 30% of the workforce doing so at least sometimes by 2019, it’s not a policy many consider. Pre-pandemic the Office for National Statistics was predicting this figure would rise to nearer 50% as working methods continued to change and the recent outbreak can surely only accelerate this pace of change. The crisis has shown businesses large and small that they can work remotely and work perfectly well provided they have the right infrastructure in place. My teams in Coversure Poole and Coversure Weymouth have been working remotely for weeks now without any drop-in service levels.
Will homeworkers’ insurance take off? I suspect it will. The reasons I say that are:
• Now businesses have seen they can do it, so more will take the opportunity of cutting costs, improving productivity and morale by allowing more of it
• As it becomes the new normal so employers’ and employees’ will want to ensure their liabilities are properly covered as they would for office-based teams
• In the economic storm that’s coming – and trust me, it’s coming – few employers are going to turn their backs on the competitive edge that this way of working can bring
If you’d like to know more about insurance cover for working from home, then please get in touch.
A Fleet And Commercial Vehicle Revolution?
This is one area where we’ve seen an awful lot of activity. On the one hand we can’t get enough courier insurance quotes done as demand for deliveries has rocketed and on the other we’ve seen commercial vehicle owners – specifically tradesmen – temporarily taking their vehicles off the road. Globally there’s been a massive decline in traffic levels and European Space Agency’ data has revealed a sharp drop in the levels of nitrogen dioxide levels, something that has been widely welcomed.
The drop has provided further evidence of the contribution that traditionally powered vehicles make to our declining air quality and whether the electric vehicle revolution is about to come. Growth in the number of electric vehicles on our roads – everything from electric cars and commercial vehicles to trucks – has been steady.
On the 6th April a new incentive came in to go electric as the rate of benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax on electric cars was reduced to zero which could save fleet and business car drivers up to £7000 in tax. Such an incentive – alongside avoiding the charges for congestion zones and the lower running costs – coupled with a desire for cleaner air means I’m likely to be getting a lot more electric vehicle insurance quote requests from here on in…
Post-Coronavirus Business: All Change?
A pandemic is one of those horrific agents of change – like war and natural disaster – that can change the way the world works. I can see Coronavirus being one of these. Remote working has been proven to work, organisations large and small have been tested and many a disaster recovery plan has been found wanting and the logistics sector has been given a shakeup like never before. It will tale some time for the dust to settle but I see this as being a catalyst for long-term change.
Like Some Insurance Help?
At Coversure Poole we’re here to help, so if you’d like some help or advice with any aspect of your insurance needs, then please feel free to get in touch with us on Poole (01202) 929 141 or email Coversure Poole and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.