As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact us all in different ways, our ongoing priority is to look after our Members, colleagues, suppliers and communities. That means acting in a responsible way, consistent with our mutual values.
Here is a summary of some of the ways in which we are delivering existing or enhanced services during the COVID-19 pandemic. More detail is available in our FAQs, which are being regularly updated as we identify new ways to contribute during this developing situation.
We welcome any suggestions as to how we can support our Members, employees, suppliers and the wider community at this challenging time.
None of our policies that provide cover for Business Interruption respond to losses that flow from COVID-19. View our FAQs to find out more about the FCA Business Interruption Test Case.
Maintaining our service levels
Unlike many businesses, we have not furloughed any employees. Many of our team are working from home and are available to offer the full range of services that our Members are accustomed to. You can still expect to have the phone answered promptly during our normal operating hours. We recognise there will be Members who will need additional support and we will prioritise those in vulnerable circumstances.
Providing good coverage
Our policies naturally respond well to many indirect situations that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. For example, our Home Insurance covers you to work from home. If you suddenly have to use your car for business or voluntary work, don’t worry: that is covered too. There is no need to contact us to inform us of these sorts of changes but please do get in touch if you are unsure about your cover.
No admin charges
Remember that Cornish Mutual never makes administration charges. That means, if you do need to make an amendment to cover for any reason, including in response to the current situation, you will not be charged an administration fee. Our advisors can explain the impact of making changes to your policies.
Cancelling or reducing cover
We would not recommend anyone cancelling insurance at a time when financial vulnerability is at its highest. However, if this proves to be absolutely necessary, Cornish Mutual will provide a full pro-rata refund for the period of cover cancelled with no deductions for administration.
Please think carefully about any changes you have in mind and discuss your full range of options with us.
Payment of premiums
If you are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the virus please make contact with us and we can assess whether there are other products or covers that we can offer you that better suit your needs or whether we can amend your payment terms – including possible payment deferrals for a short period.
We do have direct debit payment instalment plans of up to 10 payments including a deposit. Those who have not used this option before are most welcome to do so to help with cash flow.
Supporting our suppliers
We remain committed to paying our suppliers promptly. We are aware that payment terms are being tested at the moment, but as a prudent mutual insurer, we have the financial resources to be able to continue to support our local supply chain. We are continuing to work with suppliers, as far as external events and social distancing arrangements allow.
Business Interruption Test Case Judgment
The UK Supreme Court has today (15th January 2021) delivered its judgment in the Business Interruption Test Case appeals and found in favour of policyholders on the majority of key issues. To view a summary of the Supreme Court Judgment, click here.
The full Supreme Court Judgment is here.
The final ruling provides authoritative guidance for the 14 types of policy issued by six insurers, and potentially for similar policies in the wider insurance market that were not part of the Test Case.
The key points for determination by the Supreme Court and High Court weren’t relevant to Cornish Mutual policies. The ruling, therefore, does not have a bearing for any existing or potential claims made by our Members for any COVID-19 related Business Interruption losses. Cornish Mutual policies do not provide cover for Business Interruption losses as a result of Covid-19
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sought legal clarity on the response of some business interruption insurance policies to COVID-19 by bringing a test case to the High Court. Judgment was handed down by the High Court on 15th September 2020.
Business Interruption cover helps to protect businesses against loss of income as a result of not being able to operate fully after foreseeable events, such as floods, fires, malicious damage or storms.
Although it’s highly unlikely that a pandemic would intentionally be included in Business Interruption cover, COVID-19 has highlighted uncertainty around the validity of some insurers’ policy wording, resulting in the Test Case which considered 21 sample wordings from eight insurers.
The High Court reached different conclusions in respect of each policy wording but found in favour of the FCA (who advanced the claim for policyholders) on some of the key issues.
Aspects of the Test Case Judgment were appealed and taken to the Supreme Court. The Court's final ruling provides authoritative guidance and this certainty is welcomed by Cornish Mutual.
The FCA, the insurance sector, and the Financial Ombudsman will all use the judgment to guide their decisions in other cases.
The judgment will also have implications across the wider insurance and reinsurance markets, leading to amendments to policy wordings.
Looking to the future, our and other insurers’ attention will quickly turn to how to protect against another pandemic. However, the problem cannot be solved by the insurance industry alone. It is essential for the Government and the insurance industry to work together and provide a way for businesses to protect themselves against future pandemics.
For more information on the FCA Test case, click here.
Frequently asked questions
What is the FCA Business Interruption test case?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) began High Court proceedings to seek legal clarity and determine how some insurance policies respond to Business Interruption claims due to COVID-19.
The High Court proceedings involved insurers, that are parties to the test case, and considered samples of Business Interruption policy wordings. The policy wordings were interpreted and clarified by the court to determine whether customers have cover and if they can make a valid claim.
The test case judgment was appealed and taken to the Supreme Court. The final ruling provides authoritative guidance for these policies, and potentially of similar ones not part of the case.
The FCA, the insurance sector, and the Financial Ombudsman will all use the judgment to guide their decisions in other cases.
For more information and full details of this test case please visit the FCA Business Interruption page, where you can also subscribe to email updates from the FCA on Business Interruption insurance and the test case. The Financial Ombudsman Service website also provides information relevant to Business Interruption insurance and COVID-19.
Have your opening hours changed due to the COVID-19 restrictions?
In our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have successfully implemented our business continuity plans and have been able to maintain our opening hours. Our Member Services Team are therefore available on 0345 017 5513.
- Monday - Friday (08:30 - 19:00)
- Saturday (09:00 - 13:00)
Excluding public and bank holidays
Alternatively, you can contact us through our website.
To protect our Members and our staff whilst the Government restrictions remain it is no longer possible to visit us at our Head Office in Truro or at the Barn in Cullompton near Tiverton or at our various livestock market offices. We will re-open all of these offices as soon as possible.
I need to make a claim under a policy. How do I go about that?
We are working closely with our service providers to do everything possible in these challenging circumstances to continue to handle claims and support our Members. We recognise there will be Members who will need additional support and we will prioritise those in vulnerable circumstances and key workers. In order to check that your claim is covered, all you need to do is phone us and speak direct to one of our claims team on 01872 277151. Just explain what has happened and they will be able to tell you whether you are covered by your insurance policy.
If you are covered and you wish to pursue your claim, one of our team will take all of the details over the telephone and set your claim up. They will provide you with your claims reference number, details of any policy excess that you are liable for and what you need to do next.
All documents can be forwarded to our claims team by email to firstname.lastname@example.org quoting your claims reference number in the subject title of the email and we will do the rest.
I am a Cornish Mutual policyholder with Business Interruption cover, what does the FCA test case mean for me?
We do not feel that the outcome of the FCA test case will have a bearing for any existing or potential claims on any COVID-19 related Business Interruption losses as Cornish Mutual is not party to the test case and the key points for determination by the court are not relevant to our policies.
The final Supreme Court ruling provides authoritative guidance and the FCA, the insurance sector, and the Financial Ombudsman will all use the judgment to guide their decisions in other cases.
For more information, please click here.
In view of the Government COVID-19 restrictions does my business interruption insurance provide cover?
No, COVID-19 is not covered under our policy.
For our Commercial Policy to respond, the disease has to:
- Be named in the policy (Covid-19 is not named in our policy) and
- Occur at the business premises (This aspect was not a point of consideration in the test case and is a far tighter geographic requirement than ‘in the vicinity’ that was part of some of the wordings considered in the test case) and
- Cause the business premises use to be restricted on the order or advice of a competent authority.
For the exact cover please refer to the full policy wording. Our Commercial Wording has been updated for policies incepted or renewed after 24th September 2020. Full copies of the original and updated policy wordings are available here.
How do the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions affect ‘unoccupancy’ as mentioned in my insurance policy?
Our Commercial Property Owners, Commercial Combined and Motor Trade policies, all refer to unoccupancy periods of 30 days and our Let Property policy refers to 45 days.
If premises are left unoccupied in excess of these periods then insurance cover is usually restricted. To ensure our Members were not penalised for temporary closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we increased the unoccupancy periods on these policies, on the basis that reasonable measures were taken, to 90 days from the start of lockdown on 23rd March 2020, then in June, we added a further 60-day extension. The full 150 days took us up to 20th August 2020. We then extended this again for the period 5th January 2021 to 12th April 2021. With the recent easing of lockdown rules, we are now returning to our standard unoccupancy periods with effect from 12th April 2021.
(First posted 9th April 2020, updated: 17th June 2020, 12th August 2020, 21st January 2021,27th January 2021 and 12th April 2021)
Is COVID-19 covered under the Loss of Rent section of my Let Property policy?
The Loss of Rent cover under our Let Property policies does not provide cover for lost rent due to the covid-19 pandemic. There are a couple of reasons for this which you will find in your policy documentation.
Section 1 – Buildings Cover
- There has been no loss or damage to the building caused by an insured peril (insured perils are listed on page 3 of your policy booklet).
Section 3 – Loss of Rent
- For a claim to be made for loss of rent, there must be cover under Section 1 for the loss or damage, or access to the property needs to be denied as the result of loss or damage to any other building. (The presence of Covid-19 does not constitute loss or damage to any other building).
I am a landlord. Can you help me understand the impact of COVID-19 for me and my tenants?
Please click hereto read a useful article written by our Legal Expenses partner ARAG, including details on how to contact them if you would like to ask any questions.
I have Business Interruption cover under my Farm policy – is there any cover for COVID-19 claims?
There is no cover for any loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic under your Farm policy.
The Business Interruption cover is in place to reimburse you for lost income should any property used by you at the farm (and which you have insured) suffer damage by an Insured Event (which is defined in the policy) and as the result of that damage, the business activity at the farm is interrupted or interfered with and you suffer a financial loss as a result.
The Business Interruption section does have an extension in place which is called ‘Prevention of Access’ but there is an exclusion relating to the closure or restriction in the use of the Farm due to the order or advice of the competent local authority as a result of an occurrence of an infectious disease.
Is COVID-19 covered under the Commercial Insurance Policy?
COVID-19 is not covered under the Commercial Insurance Policy for business interruption losses. The diseases covered by the policy, for business interruption, are listed by name in the policy wording and the list does not include COVID-19.
Why isn’t COVID-19 listed in the Commercial Insurance Policy wording?
When the government designated COVID-19 as a notifiable disease this did not alter the cover provided by our commercial insurance policy, as the policy does not refer to a general class of notifiable diseases.
We do not wish to provide cover for risks that cannot be assessed (and therefore an accurate premium cannot be determined) as the nature of the diseases and the disruptive impact that they may have on businesses are unknown.
Will you update the Commercial Insurance policy wording to include COVID-19?
We have carefully considered the FCA Business Interruption test case judgment handed down on 15th September 2020 and the changes that reinsurers are now applying to the cover they provide to Cornish Mutual in relation to non-damage Business Interruption and disease covers in particular. We have clarified our intended scope of cover and updated the definition of Human Diseases for which Business Interruption cover is available. COVID-19 is not included in the updated definition. A Notice to Policyholders will accompany all applicable commercial insurance renewals on or after 24th September 2020. The Notice sets out the full changes to our policy wording, including the updated definition of Human Diseases.
We will now also carefully review the Supreme Court judgment handed down on January 15th 2021 and will advise Members of any other policy wording changes that are required.