COVID-19 update for our Members

Content

We are working hard to ensure our Members receive our usual high level of service. 

That means being as flexible as possible and keeping all our Members updated on how the COVID-19 restrictions affect their insurance cover.

While we cannot meet Members face to face, we encourage you to keep in touch with us and ask us any questions.  If you do need us, please call us on 01872 277151.

You may also want to read our FAQs below, which cover the most common questions from our Members.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries or concerns. We are here to support you through this challenging time.

You can also keep updated with the latest COVID-19 advice and guidance via these official sources:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

World Health Organisation (WHO)

GOV.UK

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Business Interruption Test Case


FAQ's  

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. Where appropriate and in line with social distancing rules our field-based teams are now undertaking some face to face meetings.

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 claims@cornishmutual.co.uk quoting your claims reference number in the subject title of the email and we will do the rest.

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 now anticipate that most of our Members’ businesses are back up and running to some extent and therefore we will not be extending the unoccupancy period any further. If there are any individual businesses that are still unable to open due to COVID-19 restrictions then please contact us to review your individual circumstances.

(First posted 9th April 2020, updated 17th June 2020 and further updated on 12th August 2020

I am a landlord. Can you help me understand the impact of COVID-19 for me and my tenants?

Please click here to 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.

Is COVID-19 covered under the Commercial Insurance Policy?

COVID-19 is not covered under the Commercial Insurance Policy.  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.  Our approach to name individual diseases, rather than referring to a group that may subsequently be added to, is consistent with other insurers that offer an extension for diseases in their business interruption policies. 

The reason for this is that insurers are unable 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.

In view of the Government COVID-19 restrictions does my business interruption insurance provide cover?

No, COVID-19 is not covered under our policy which is in line with the majority of business interruption policies in the UK.
For our Commercial Policy to respond, the disease has to:

  • Be named in the policy and
  • Occur at the business premises 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

Will you update the Commercial Insurance policy wording to include COVID-19?

We have carefully considered the FCA Business Interruption test case judgement 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.

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 High Court ruling is legally binding on the participating insurers and will provide guidance for similar cases, to ensure claims are being handled fairly.

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.

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. 

In their judgement handed down on 15.09.20 the Court reached different conclusions in respect of each policy wording under consideration. The judgement is complex and it will take time for those parties involved in the case to understand what it means and whether to appeal. For more information, please view our FCA Test Case Statement. 

Is there any cover for COVID-19 under other Cornish Mutual policies?

None of Cornish Mutual’s insurance products include specific cover for COVID-19, this includes Motor Trade, Farm, Commercial Property Owners, Let Property and Special Events policies.  There might be cover under Personal Accident policies where sickness cover is in force. Please contact us should you have any queries on this.

We have had enquiries regarding our Let Property policy but there is no disease cover provided under this product.

We have also received enquiries about cover under the Loss of Milk extension to our Farm policy but there are specific circumstances listed here and the only one relating to an inability to collect stored milk is due to adverse weather conditions.

My business has been badly affected by the COVID-19 restrictions. Can I adjust my policy to reflect the change in turnover and/or wage roll?

If you have reduced exposures due to the COVID-19 restrictions and would like to amend your cover to enable a mid-term premium adjustment, we will consider the request, although you may not experience a premium saving as minimum premiums will be maintained in all instances. 

For a range of business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses, please click here.

Will thorough examination and Statutory inspection of equipment still go ahead?

The HSE have advised that they are not considering issuing exemptions or relaxing the requirement for thorough examinations and Statutory Inspections so they will need to go ahead as planned.  Cornish Mutual’s preferred engineering partner is continuing to undertake all scheduled inspections while ensuring that all social distancing precautions are undertaken.

Do I have Public Liability (PL) cover for members of the public claiming they caught coronavirus at my premises, or Employers' Liability (EL) cover if my employees claim they caught coronavirus at work?

We can confirm that both the PL and ELsections, if operative under your policy, will continue to cover your legal liability for accidental bodily injury to any person, happening during the period of insurance and caused in connection with the business activity.

Bodily injury is defined under both the PL and EL sections of the policy to mean physical injury or disease or a recognisable psychiatric injury, including death therefrom.

Please click here to read our blog with some useful advice about planning to return to work.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions many of my employees are now home based and/or furloughed. How does this affect my Employers’ Liability (EL) Insurance? Can I cancel it?

EL Insurance is compulsory by law and whether your employees are working remotely or have been furloughed, EL cover is still required as the contractual relationship between the business and your employees still exists.  Leave your EL cover in place.  Arag and Ashfords Solicitors have provide some advice on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.

I am an office based worker now working from home due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Does my home insurance cover me?

Yes, your home insurance policy will cover you for office based, working from home. You do not need to contact us, to let us know, or to update your policy, or extend cover.

The ABI (Association of British Insurers) has reassured people that its home insurance and private motor insurance members (of which Cornish Mutual is one) are offering enhanced help and support to all their customers who may be affected by the impact of COVID-19. See the ABI website for further information.

I am not using my car at present; can I suspend, reduce or cancel my private motor insurance?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to suspend your private motor policy. However, if because of the Covid-19 restrictions you decide to take the vehicle ‘off the road’ by making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) to the DVLA we do provide an option to reduce cover to fire and theft only (Laid up cover). When a vehicle is SORN it cannot be kept or used on a public road and therefore must be kept it in a garage, on a drive or on private land. Please contact us if you wish to consider this option.

Alternatively, subject to your vehicle being SORN with the DVLA you don’t legally need insurance and therefore you do have the option to cancel the insurance subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. There is no cancellation fee or administration charge under your Cornish Mutual policy.

Please be aware that under Continuous Insurance Enforcement legislation, it’s an offence to be the registered keeper of a vehicle without insurance unless you’ve notified the DVLA that it’s SORN. 

I have to use my car to drive to my work place. Am I still covered?

Yes, if you have to drive to your workplace because of the impact of COVID-19, your insurance policy will not be affected.  In addition, if you are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by COVID-19, your cover will not be affected.  This applies to all categories of NHS Volunteer Responders, including transporting patients, equipment, or other essential supplies.  If your work is critical to the national response to COVID-19 and you need to use your own car to drive to different locations for work purposes because of the impact of Covid-19, your cover will not be affected.  You do not need to contact Cornish Mutual to update your documents or extend your cover under any of the circumstances described above.

I am having problems arranging an MOT for my car because of the COVID-19 restrictions. Will my insurance still be valid?

The government announced that from 30th March 2020 it is granting a temporary 6-month exemption from MOT testing for all cars, vans and motorcycles whose MOT date falls within that time period. This has since been updated and with effect from 1st August 2020 MOT testing becomes mandatory again.  If your vehicle is due  an MOT test from 1st August 2020 you will be required to have a valid test certificate to continue driving the vehicle.  If your MOT date falls between 30th March 2020 and 31st July 2020 you still have a 6 month exemption period and your motor insurance will remain valid throughout this period or until the expiry date of your policy.  Safety is paramount and you can still be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle.  It is a condition of your policy to ‘keep the Insured Vehicle in a roadworthy condition and in good working order'. This condition still applies despite the 6 month MOT exemption.

Is there any other support for businesses?

Please see the following articles published by our Legal Expenses insurer ARAG:

Help with VAT and business rates payments

Suspension of eviction under commercial leases