Coronavirus and Insurance Update - 01/04/2020
The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting clients, our community and our people in a variety of ways. Things are changing quickly, and we are all working to adapt. EBM will continue to share resources and information to help you navigate this challenging time. As always, our team is here to assist should you have any questions or concerns.
The importance of maintaining insurance during this time
Faced with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the insurance industry continues to receive queries from home and business owners either wanting to cancel or reduce their insurances or looking for advice on what should be done.
One of the thoughts crossing client’s minds, particularly when they have been told they have no cover as a result of the closures caused by COVID-19, is whether they should cancel covers including business interruption, which they do not consider necessary anymore.
This is where the right advice is imperative for home and business owners, as it remains a serious issue should they be impacted by an insurable event.
Can you imagine how the economy and business owners would be if COVID-19 had occurred first, and then the bushfires, hail, storms and floods had occurred with a large number of businesses and homeowners having recently cancelled or reduced their insurance?
In the event a business is forced to close or is operating at a much-reduced capacity in the current environment, the extensive list of risks usually covered by insurance continue to exist.
Here are three classes of insurance that provide essential protection for businesses should you experience an insurable event:
- Fire/Property insurance. It is a very real situation that fires, storms, burst pipes, malicious damage, theft, water and numerous other insured perils continue to occur whether a business is operating at full capacity or not. If a business is in financial stress, it will be important to have the appropriate insurance policies in place to help with reinstating their assets to get through this crisis.
- Business Interruption (loss of gross profit/revenue). A business needs to have a fire/property insurance policy in place to be able to make any claim under business interruption, and this is triggered following one of the many risks covered by insurance.
- Public and Products liability. For a claim to be paid the “occurrence” (that is, third party property damage or third-party injury/illness) has to occur during the period of insurance. If this policy is cancelled, cover ceases for any new event.
For example: If a pipe bursts in the premises and floods a neighbour, or a fire starts in the premises and damages the building owner premises, or someone slips walking through a car park that the insured is responsible for or rented to, or products sold or supplied cause injury to someone. If any of these events occur and liability insurance is not in place, they would have to defend the action against them themselves without the safety net of insurance.
Insurance has always, now and into the future, been about protection. In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever not to take the protection away when we find ourselves at our most vulnerable.
EBM continues to work on solutions to assist clients through the challenges we all face due to COVID-19, including:
- Special arrangements for monthly Premium Funding including loan application fee waivers, discounted interest rates and longer grace periods for an agreed timeframe will be available to provide some respite in the short-term.
- Mid-term reviews to consider the impacts of changes to your business (e.g. turnover, wages, stock levels). We will find the best result for you while taking a balanced and considered approach to ensuring you have protection when you need it most.
Please speak to your EBM Account Manager for assistance and guidance. We are here to help.
Information sources: LMI Group and Prof. Allan Manning
Closing your office location temporarily? Key considerations.
With COVID-19 government restrictions now in place, we know that many businesses and offices are forced to either close or operate in a limited capacity into the foreseeable future.
The risk management team at Zurich Australia has put together comprehensive checklists to consider should a business be required to close temporarily and leave their premises empty.
We hope you find the following checklists helpful to ensure that proper procedures and safeguards are followed should a temporary shutdown of your facilities be called by the relevant authorities.
- Temporary Premises Closure Guide
- Partial Premises Closure Guide
- Temporary Construction Site Closure Guide
- Temporary Closure of Buildings in Refurbishment Guide
- Temporary Closure of Schools Guide
If you would like to discuss the security aspects of your insurance policy in more detail, please contact your EBM Account Manager for more information.
Government Stimulus Package – JobKeeper Wage Subsidy
On 30 March 2020, the Australian Government announced a $130 billion wage subsidy for businesses impacted by the Coronavirus.
The JobKeeper Payment is designed to help businesses affected by the Coronavirus to cover the costs of their employees’ wages, so that more employees can retain their job and continue to earn an income. The scheme will see the Australian Government pay employers a wage subsidy at a flat rate of $1,500 per employee, per fortnight for up to six months, backdated to 30 March.
Which businesses are eligible?
- The JobKeeper Payment is a temporary scheme open to businesses impacted by the Coronavirus. The JobKeeper Payment will also be available to the self-employed.
- Companies with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion who experience, or expect to experience, at least a 30% decline in revenue in any month since 1 March, versus a year earlier. Businesses with annual turnover of $1 billion or more are eligible if their turnover will fall by more than 50%.
- Employers must apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to participate in the scheme and provide supporting information, demonstrating the impact felt in their business. Employers will also need to continue to report to the ATO the number of eligible employees employed by their business each month.
The JobKeeper Payment will support employers to maintain their connection to their employees. These connections will enable business to reactivate their operations quickly – without having to rehire staff – when the crisis is over.
For a comprehensive summary of the Australian federal and state/territory government programs for COVID-19 that have been introduced recently to support businesses, please visit: https://insuranceandrisk.com.au/government-support-programs-for-covid-19/
COVID 19 - New work health and safety resources
Safe Work Australia has published new information and resources on COVID-19 and work health and safety, including:
- Information for workplaces
- Information for small businesses
- Information for workers
- What to do if a worker has COVID-19 - infographic
New material on minimising risk of exposure to COVID-19 is also available for specific industries here.
For more information, visit COVID-19 information for workplaces.
Here to help
As the situation is evolving quickly, we will do our best to keep you informed. While we are not hosting face to face meetings with clients at the moment, we are able to facilitate video meetings. If you have any questions, please contact your EBM Account Manager on 1300 755 112 for further information.