Covid-19: Commercial lines FAQs
We're working hard to ensure that our operations run as smoothly as possible during these changing times. Providing good service and support to you and your customers is a priority for us, so we regularly update this page to ensure that you are kept up to date.
We are asking that all customers contact their brokers for support and advice in the first instance. The contacts and FAQs below are intended to support you to manage these enquiries.
- To register a claim, brokers should email us. All of our contact information can be found on our Claims page.
- If you’re unable to find what you need below and still need to discuss a customer’s policy where you think a relevant extension may apply, please email our new dedicated mailbox at COVID.firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are currently handling a significant number of enquiries. You can find an update on service here.
Frequently asked questions
We understand that during this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, having clarity about your insurance cover is important to you and your customers. The following FAQs should be read alongside applicable policy terms and conditions and are intended to provide helpful guidance, but we acknowledge that there will continue to be circumstances or unique facts that individual customers will be facing which you will still need to contact us about.
From the commencement date of the relevant lockdown, RSA will not apply certain restrictions in cover that usually apply as standard in RSA policies for unoccupied properties.
Customers will be expected to take the following measures when closing their building or premises:
- Maintain building heating to a minimum of 5°C to prevent pipe freezing to sprinkler, process and potable water systems
- Secure and fasten all door and window locks and ensure that all security alarms and intruder detection or monitoring systems are operative
- Regularly inspect any closed building or premises (where this is allowed under the relevant rules and restrictions as a permitted work undertaken away from their home)
For the businesses that are required to close as a consequence of the latest lockdown, there can be a presumption that RSA knows that a building is closed. If your customer’s property has been closed for any other reason, you are required to notify RSA of this – please email your usual Underwriting contact or COVID.email@example.com
For buildings or business premises that were already vacant prior to the imposition of the applicable Governmental restrictions, there will be no change to the cover restrictions, policy conditions or specific requirements that would have already been applied to maintain policy cover.
If any of the imposed conditions or requirements, including those involving the regular inspection of premises, now present an issue as a consequence of the relevant Governmental restrictions, please refer to your usual RSA underwriter.
Some concessions may be available for buildings or premises containing businesses that were already closed as a consequence of Tiering or other restrictions that preceded the most recent lockdowns, provided that the business occupying the building or premises still intends to trade from that building or premises once the restrictions have been lifted:
- Where Government guidance stated that premises must remain closed e.g. theatres, certain other premises in areas which were designated as Tier 4 – we will consider waiving the requirement that combustibles be removed from the buildings
- Single owner businesses that are closed for two weeks whilst the owner self-isolates – the premises will not be treated as empty or not in use for the period of this short-term closure
- Buildings shut for cleaning because a person present at that building has been reported as having COVID-19 symptoms – such buildings will be expected to reopen as soon as the cleaning has completed, so the closure for cleaning will be considered as a short-term closure and the building will not be treated as empty or not in use for this period
If your customer’s building or premises has been closed whether because of one of the above circumstances or otherwise, you were previously required to notify RSA of this. If these circumstances have not already been declared, or if any of the above subsequently occur in respect of a building or premises that would otherwise contain a business that should otherwise be expected to be able to continue trading under the new lockdown restrictions, please email your usual Underwriting contact or COVID.firstname.lastname@example.org
In most cases, standard Business Interruption policies will not cover losses arising from COVID-19, whether as a result of the presence of the disease on your Premises, or the Government enforced closure of businesses.
If a customer has purchased a Notifiable Disease extension, then this may provide cover for some losses, if the closure or restriction of the customer’s Premises is directly as a result of the discovery of COVID-19 at or, in some cases, within the vicinity of the Premises. The policy wording will outline this. If this applies to your customer, you should get in touch to discuss a claim.
The vast majority of RSA Policy wordings now contain an express exclusion in respect of disease.
Any optional Business Interruption Disease extensions available in future will provide cover for Specified Diseases only. The list of Specified Diseases will not include any coronavirus or derivatives thereof. For further information on what cover is available from RSA please speak to your usual Underwriting contact.
If premises have been closed on the order of the government and, for example, subsequently a theft occurs, we would regard the theft (by another party) as a new and intervening cause and the claim would be handled in accordance with the circumstances of the claim and the policy terms and conditions (including any risk management restrictions for unoccupied premises as described in these FAQs).
We will do this only in very exceptional cases and recommend that these renewals are prioritised in resource planning.
RSA would regard the usage of a Premises for providing COVID-19 vaccinations as a material fact to be declared to your usual Underwriting contact.
RSA expects that such equipment will be predominantly computer equipment. Customers who buy RSA Computer Insurance cover will already have cover provided anywhere in the world. In addition, RSA Computer cover will now allow up to a 20% increase in sum insured (up to a maximum additional £250,000) to cater for any additional computer equipment that has to be purchased to allow for home working.
The following additional terms will be applicable:
- Theft from unattended vehicles will be covered but will be limited to £5,000 in respect of any one loss
- When such items are left in unattended vehicles, they must be locked in a separate boot area or otherwise be obscured from view
RSA Property Damage covers do not automatically provide cover for business equipment removed from the business premises. For the period that the original UK national restrictions remained in force, RSA automatically provided additional cover for items temporarily removed to the home of an employee to enable working from home for a Sum Insured of £5,000 per home and a single article limit of £2,500. Other relevant policy terms and conditions continued to apply.
RSA is now asking customers to confirm whether or not they still wish to retain some cover on business equipment to enable working from home. For periods of insurance commencing on or after 1st October 2020 customers are being offered the opportunity to continue the additional cover in return for an additional premium.
Customers retain the right to cancel their policy in line with the relevant policy wording. We will continue to seek to ensure that there are no additional barriers to customers who need to take this course of action.
We will look to support our customers with any changes that they wish to make in accordance with policy terms and conditions, although we will need to be notified by the broker of the specific changes requested in line with the customer’s business needs.
Consistent with usual practice, RSA would prefer to provide renewal offers based upon values declared by customers at the commencement of the period of insurance which reflect what the customer expects to be their forthcoming turnover, wageroll and business interruption values. Nonetheless RSA recognises that the exceptional circumstances that arise from the UK restrictions now in place to slow the spread of coronavirus mean that there could be some customers who may not be able to calculate the expected changes to their turnover, wageroll and business interruption values that may arise before their policy is due for renewal.
To find out whether a Policy includes lines of business on a declaration basis please speak to your usual Underwriting contact.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 and our desire to ensure that customers no longer need to venture out to bank cheques we are now issuing all payments via BACS or EFT where there is no BACS capability.
We will request bank account details at the earliest opportunity as we deal with the claim so that payments can be easily facilitated. As an additional security precaution, you or your customer can call us back on the number provided on claims documentation.
From a Major Damage perspective, we continue to have a team of experts with full IT capability to handle large losses. This team is maintaining contact with loss adjusters and other experts to seek to ensure that we provide an uninterrupted service to our customers. This is constantly under review given the speed at which the situation is developing, and we will continue to update on any changes.
We recognise that we are operating in a hugely unusual set of circumstances, and consideration will be given where customers or brokers are not physically able to report issues. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis but we encourage customers to submit claims promptly and in the time frames required by the policy terms and conditions.
Up-to-date best practice guidance, including measures businesses need to take to ensure their workplaces are COVID-secure, is available via the following:
- Government guidance on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). E.g. in England
- The government agency responsible for encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare. Guidance is both general (e.g. risk assessments) and specific to coronavirus (COVID-19). E.g. in the UK (ex.NI) the Health and Safety Executive [HSE]
- A relevant trade or industry body, many of which have online resources specific to coronavirus (COVID-19)
This and all other applicable guidance should be incorporated into and maintained within an organisation’s existing health and safety management framework. This should include recording the measures taken and ensuring there is a regular review process to verify that up-to-date guidance is being followed and that assessments and policies are maintained.
Further risk management guidance can be found here.
We’ll review such deadlines and timescales on a case-by-case basis, based on the nature of the risk improvement and a customer’s ability to implement the change in the current circumstances. We will need to take a balanced approach to this, taking into account whether or not the customer remains subject to any local or national restrictions or other factors which might reasonably cause delay.
Customers should be advised to take reasonable steps to protect their unoccupied premises in accordance with their policy terms and conditions (subject to any concessions as described in previous FAQs). We have put together some detailed general property guidance during periods of reduced staffing or restricted access to help you support your customers. We are also committed to following the ABI customer pledge “Supporting unoccupied businesses when temporarily closed”. We encourage you to visit the dedicated COVID-19 page on the ABI website for further guidance on protecting premises as well as additional advice for your customers during this difficult time.
We would expect that the majority of construction sites can remain open in accordance with government guidelines. However, if this is not possible, please review our best practice advice and guidance for contractors and employers on the precautions that need to be taken if a construction site is temporarily closed. Please also inform your usual underwriting contact that the site has been closed.
This could expose your customer to a much higher risk of loss. Review our best practice advice and guidance to help businesses put the right controls in place to help tackle this. Applicable policy terms and conditions will continue to apply.
We will expect customers to do what they can to service these, but we recognise the challenges in doing so given the developing situation. We are regularly reviewing our position and will keep you updated.
New legislation, Breathing Space came into effect on Tuesday 4th May 2021 with the principle aim of supporting individuals who may be experiencing a debt problem.
Click here to find out what steps RSA has put in place to help you support your customers.
This document from the FCA also has important information about access to a variety of debt advice services to help your customers.
We have robust business continuity plans in place but inevitably with higher employee absence there will need to be prioritisation. We are actively working to move resource around the organisation to support frontline teams.
We are following government guidance closely to protect our employees and, as per previous lockdown restrictions, RSA employees who can work from home are doing so. In our operational sites we have implemented new ways of working to enable social distancing. We are also taking into account the impact of school closures and supporting our employees to work more flexibly so they can balance their responsibilities more easily.
Our Regional and London Market trading teams have been successfully maintaining a normal trading service from home for some time now. We will continue to manage and prioritise enquiries in a way that ensures that we focus our time most effectively for the benefit of you and your customers.
We are pleased to see a continued improvement of our SME service levels. Across Q4 we maintained 94% Live Chat contact response consistently, whilst increasing daily chats by 30% (from Aug to Dec). Our response rate to email and system generated queries moved from five days in July to 48 hours on average by the end of December. And first contact resolution remained at 80%, with plans to improve this position in 2021 with a focus on empowerment in decision-making and reduction in referrals.
We are currently re-evaluating the impact of the latest national lockdown restrictions across our teams to understand genuine impact, however we anticipate that we will be able to maintain Live Chat response as a priority, with post service potentially moving to three-day response on average. We will maintain 24 hour post-delivery on urgent enquiries and will triage priorities each day to assess critical versus non-critical queries.
Having clarity about your insurance cover is important to you and your customers. Please use our dedicated mailbox at COVID.email@example.com.
The FAQs should be read alongside applicable policy terms and conditions and are intended to provide helpful guidance, but we acknowledge that there will continue to be circumstances or unique facts that individual customers will be facing which you will still need to contact us about.