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Commercial and Contracts – Insurance

At Ward Hadaway we want to play our part by helping UK businesses, organisations and people successfully navigate the current disrupted environment and get us all back to business. To do that we have developed a series of FAQs where we try to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions.

 

 

VIDEO: Can trade credit insurance help to keep the supply chain moving?

On Tuesday 23rd June, partner Emma Digby was in conversation with Steve Hamstead and Mark Smith from AON along with Ward Hadaway associate Nathan Bilton from our commercial team in a webinar titled Can trade credit insurance help to keep the supply chain moving?

The insurance market is under untold pressure as a result of the pandemic, and in such times there is a risk that insurers will cancel or reduce credit lines, particularly in certain high risk sectors such as retail. However the Government has stepped in to effectively underwrite the existing trade credit insurance agreements, and to keep trade supplies moving. Will this be enough?

In this webinar, we discussed:

  • the Government backed scheme and how it will operate
  • the prospects of obtaining insurance going forward, and whether it will become too cost prohibitive
  • could the new legislation put your business at risk and jeopardise your insurance cover if you cannot cancel a contract when you are not getting paid for your goods or services
  • the Brexit effect, and how this will affect the insurance market
  • protecting your business with proper risk assessment processes and paperwork
What routes of challenge are available to an insurer's rejection of my business interruption claim?

Many policies will only provide business interruption cover if it arises from property damage. The FCA has acknowledged that insurers are entitled to reject claims in relation to such policies, notwithstanding the success of the FCA’s test case in the Supreme Court, and which was generally favourable to policyholders [Insert a link here to our update on the test case]. In other cases the policy wording will be less clear and businesses may legitimately feel that their insurer is wrongly withholding payment.

One route of challenge to an insurer’s decision is via one of the well-publicised class actions. Another route of challenge is by a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). This service is open to consumers and small and medium-sized businesses, ‘micro-enterprises’, charities and trusts. The service will be an attractive option for many businesses, as it is free and relatively quick (although it remains to be seen how the service keeps up with an increase in demand as a result of the pandemic). You will need to have complained to your insurer before bringing a complaint with the FOS.

Further details can be found here.

Is my business covered by insurance for notifiable diseases?

Unfortunately, losses caused by pandemics are not often covered expressly under standard policies, as the risk has been difficult for insurers to price and understand.

Even where additional cover in respect of notifiable diseases has been purchased, it typically will not include Covid-19 within the range of diseases covered by the policy. If the policy includes a list of notifiable diseases, and which does not include Covid-19, it is very unlikely that cover will be available for pandemic-relates losses.

The most common types of covers that could be afforded by insurance policies for coronavirus-related losses and liabilities are traditional business interruption insurance, contingent business interruption insurance, liability insurance, as well as cancellation and abandonment insurance.

Can I use my Business Interruption insurance to make a claim?

The FCA’s test case in the Supreme Court ruled overwhelmingly in favour of policyholders.  However, business interruption cover generally has the prerequisite of physical damage or loss to the property (or in some circumstances, the presence of a notifiable disease at the property or within a certain radius of it), to recover losses caused by the interruption to your business. The onus is on insurers to re-assess those claims which are impacted by the Supreme Court’s judgment and to make contact with the policyholders regarding next steps. If you have not already made a claim, in the first instance the terms of any policy should be checked carefully to see whether business interruption cover is provided.

Can I use my Contingent Business Interruption insurance to make a claim?

An extension to the traditional business interruption insurance, “contingent business interruption insurance” often covers areas such as business interruption due to damage to property of a customer or suppliers. Nonetheless, proving loss can be problematic.

Claims for loss of use of the property may be possible as a result of forced business closure due to lockdown.  Accordingly policies should be carefully reviewed to see if cover is available.

Can I make a claim under my cancellations/abandonment insurance?

Cancellation insurance usually covers certain expenses and loss of profit, as long as the reason for cancellation is not excluded. These exclusion clauses are often quite wide and exclude avian, swine flu, quarantine, and restrictions of movement as a result of communicable disease. This means that you may not be entitled to compensation under this cover.

Can I use my Public and Employer's Liability insurance to protect my business from a claim?

Business operators such as travel operators, hotels and restaurants remain vulnerable to claims of failure to protect against contracting the virus. There is a high chance of claims from employees, clients and members of the public. These are likely to be covered under public liability and employer’s liability insurance.

Is there a time limit on making an insurance claim?

All policies will impose a stringent obligation, often with time limits, for you to notify insurers of circumstances that may give rise to a potential claim under the policy and non-compliance may well negate your cover. If therefore you have potential cover under your policy you must make a precautionary notification to Insurers as soon as possible.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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Damien Charlton

Partner | Head of Commercial

+44 (0) 330 137 3410

+44 (0)770 253 7432

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Matthew Cormack

Partner | Commercial

+44 (0) 330 137 3412

+44 (0)773 846 2586

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Dean Murray

Partner | Commercial

+44 (0) 330 137 3413

+44 (0) 752 580 2956

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Nichola Evans

Partner | Commercial Litigation

+44 (0) 330 137 3335

+44 (0) 773 330 6502

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