Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update March 2020

Last updated 27/03/2020

In light of the recent COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak we want to reassure you that we open for business as usual. We continue to be available to you for all your insurance needs.

We have already taken measures to ensure staff who can work remotely are doing so and we have reconfigured our premises to protect those who are working within it.

This is, of course, an unprecedented time for everyone but we will continue to apply a flexible and dynamic approach to minimise the impact to the customer service that we pride ourselves on providing. Our robust disaster recovery plan is in place to deal with any business interruption scenario.

We will continue to monitor the situation and adapt accordingly to ensure we are doing all we can to reduce disruption to our customers, whilst following government advice in respect of our staff.

If we have temporarily reduced staff numbers at any point then you may find that we are unable to answer our telephones as quickly as we usually would so we ask that you please bear with us in that situation, and we will answer your call as soon as we are able.

We will provide updates on our website and will also work with our insurer partners to provide as seamless a service as we can.

For non-urgent queries you can also contact us using our Live Chat facility via our website or email us at contactus@businesschoicedirect.co.uk and we will respond as soon as possible.

Government advice around the coronavirus outbreak is available on the following link;

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

One of the measures introduced by the Government is the extension of due dates for MOT tests for vehicles by 3 months. Specific information can be found at this link;

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-cars-vans-and-motorcycles-due-from-30-march-2020

Advice on Insurance Cover

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have set up a comprehensive question and answer section on their website for insurance customers. This covers a wide range of insurance types and we would recommend consulting this as a first port of call as it may well answer any queries you may have around what is covered in this situation;

https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-qa/

In the meantime, government advice around the coronavirus outbreak is available on the following link;

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Additional Advice for Business Customers

Business Interruption Cover

The government have made it clear that they didn’t expect many businesses to have the Business Interruption cover in place to cover an event such as this, and that these measures are designed to help support all businesses through these challenging times. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have made further comments following the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday 17th March 2020. They have stated;

“The Chancellor’s statement today is consistent with our statement this morning where we said in the event businesses have the right cover, this type of notification could help make a claim. But, as the Chancellor acknowledged, the vast majority won’t have purchased extended cover and this remains unchanged.”

Following the statement on the 17th of March, We have received many queries regarding policy response and coverage under the Business Interruption Section of SME insurance policies. The answers to these questions are complex, and it is not possible to issue a simple response because of both the complexity and unprecedented nature of the situation, and the number of variations in policy wordings that exist across the market.

We strongly recommend checking your individual policy wordings to check if you have an extension that may assist in this situation. As stated above, it is expected that few policies will cover this scenario which is why the government has introduced the raft of measures that it has to assist businesses in these difficult times.

Upon receiving your queries, we are having to consult with the individual insurers involved to seek the answers and ensure we are advising our policyholders of the correct information. As the insurers and ourselves are receiving a large number of queries we would be grateful for your patience as we may not be able to give a definitive answer to you straight away. However, we will respond as soon as possible and continue to provide updates as and when anything changes with regards to the situation.

Advice on Government Support for Businesses

The coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is evolving rapidly and the government have confirmed they will be taking measures to assist businesses in this difficult time.

The government are giving support to the following areas:

  • Support for sick pay
  • Support for businesses who pay business rates
  • Support for businesses who pay little or no business rates
  • Support with Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme
  • Support for businesses paying tax
  • A Job Retention Scheme which applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month.
  • Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme enabling those who meet the criteria to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

You cannot apply for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme yet. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.

Where can you find out further information?

The government have published detailed information and guidance online and we would recommend that you keep yourselves up to date with this. You can access the information using this link:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

For self-employed workers the independent trade bodies, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) and National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses (FSB), have extensive information and advice on their websites and we would recommend following these links for updates from those bodies;

https://www.ipse.co.uk/ipse-news/news-listing/coronavirus-ipse-activity-and-advice-freelancers.html

https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html

The IPSE website includes information on;

  • Government Support for the Self-Employed
  • Advice for Freelancers and Clients
  • Business and Financial Support Advice
  • Links to Banks’ Coronavirus Pages
  • Advice on Health and Client Relations

The FSB website includes latest news and advice on the following subjects;

  • Completing Application for Government Grants and Cashflow Issues
  • Business Premises and Trading
  • Business Rates
  • Paying Tax
  • Statutory Sick Pay and Employment Allowance

If you are a business customer affected by the current situation these websites are your best source of information and up to date advice.