Covid-19 – An update for our Personal Lines Brokers

January 2021

We sincerely hope that you and your families are in good health, and that those who have been affected by the virus are on the road to recovery.

This world-wide health crisis that we are facing for the first time in our lifetimes has a major impact on our personal and professional lives. Our priorities in facing the challenges of this unprecedented situation are protecting people - you and all of us – as well as continuing business operations as best we can to continue to meet the needs of our customers.

As of 31st March, we’re pleased to have all of our workforce working from home, this was an incredible achievement to implement in less than two weeks and made possible by the outstanding commitment of all our people, going above and beyond all expectations to adapt to new ways of working and create an individual and collective resilience. As always, the health, safety and wellbeing of our people, suppliers, business partners and customers is of utmost importance to us, whilst being able to continue to service and support our brokers and customers through the challenges ahead.

These are unprecedented times and the situation regarding Covid-19 is changing rapidly, but we continue to follow the advice provided by the Government.

Our phone lines are being diverted and emails are being picked up, but due to the unique challenges of working from home, coupled with the large increase in the volume of enquiries, it is taking us longer than usual to respond. Please bear with us as we transition to a new way of working, you may hear pets, children, family and even kettles boiling in the background, but rest assured we continue to follow all data protection rules and will help you as much as we can with the support you need.

To help us manage this demand, please can you email us or use webchat for underwriting queries or quotes where possible – you can find our contact sheets here.  

Claims lines

We’re pleased to say that our Claims team remain open as normal, supporting customers at their greatest time of need. However it may take longer than usual for us to respond due to many of our staff working from home. Rest assured our out of hours claims team remain operational so we can continue to support your clients 24/7, 365 days a year.

Our priority at this time is the continuation of services to our existing customers. Your usual contacts will remain available to you as normal.

We're continuing to work in close contact with our suppliers to ensure that we can continue to meet customer needs as best as possible and deliver a high quality service at the same time.

Protecting our customers and suppliers

Delivering a high level of service to customers remains a top priority and we have taken some additional measures to ensure the continued safety of our customers and suppliers throughout this time. Specifically these include:

  • Liaising with our suppliers regarding their operational resilience plans and are ensuring that they are following latest Government advice and taking steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees.
  • Encouraging suppliers to be extra diligent whilst handling customer property and managing claims, ensuring important hygiene practices are followed at all times.
  • Where possible and appropriate, assessments and meetings are adopting video conferencing facilities, to minimise human contact and allow claims to continue to be efficiently processed.

General Covid-19 Scenarios

We have signed up to the ABI’s insurer commitments for home and motor customers, so we are doing our very best to make things as easy as possible for customers. You can read more about these here 

We appreciate that these are extremely uncertain times and as such have raised many questions and scenarios for you and your customers. Here you can find some examples of scenarios that may apply to both home and motor customers. Please note, we will add to these as and when we can.

  • How can you assist a customer struggling to make payments as a result of Covid-19?

We appreciate that during this time, some of your customers may be facing financial difficulties. If a customer is unable to meet their Direct Debit payments with you, please work with them in the first instance to understand their circumstances and to offer the support you can. Please also check that the rating factors initially used to calculate premium remain accurate as should these factors change, there may be a reduction in risk which may lead to a reduction in customer premium. 

Covea Insurance can only intervene in cases where there are exceptional circumstances. In these cases, please email us at plhub@coveainsurance.co.uk to discuss these circumstances.

  • Customer would like to cancel policy due to Covid-19

We understand the difficulties customers are facing due to Covid-19 and therefore we have changed our processes to enable our customers to terminate their policies early (for example at six months or at the quarter). However, early termination can only take place if the policy is loss-free during this policy period, otherwise the 100% annual premium should be paid.

  • What happens if the customer misses or will miss their deadline for sending evidence of policy or claims validation, due to being ill from Covid-19?

We will be as flexible as possible so if your customer is unable to send in information due to ill health, please contact us and we will do what we can to provide the much needed support in extending the period until the customer is well enough to send the evidence to us. You can email plhub@coveainsurance.co.uk and the team will direct your query.

  • Customer or Broker unable to confirm renewal in time due to Covid-19, customer may be ill and unable to confirm.

We will work together with you to be as best prepared as possible, for example by encouraging renewal invites earlier on a 45 day basis. We are also happy to discuss lapses on a case by case basis to understand each individual’s situation and specific needs.

  • Customer needs to make a claim but is unable to afford the excess due to loss of income

If any customer is struggling to pay their excess, then please encourage your customer to talk to the claims handlers as soon as possible. We are fully committed to supporting customers wherever we can and each case will be discussed and assessed on its individual merits to see what we can do to help as much as possible.

Motor Customers

We are aiming to address some of the most common queries we are receiving which apply to our Private Car policies. If you are unsure of any response or have further questions, please speak to your underwriter. We will continue to update this page as more responses become available.

  • Customer needs to make any of the following changes due to Covid-19. How can you help?
    1. Change in occupation due to second line of work, becoming unemployed or temporarily re-joining their workforce to support frontline services
    2. Reduction in mileage
    3. Adding additional drivers outside the family to assist with childcare or collection of essential items such as medication or provisions.

If the change is a direct result of Covid-19 then we will waive the MTA fee and additional premium for making any of the changes as above.

To make your life easier at this very difficult time, you can also make this change directly by using the code COV19 on your underwriting system.  

  • Customer has cover for Social, Domestic and Pleasure but now needs to use their car to commute to work, instead of public transport, do we need to let you know?

There’s no need to tell us about this - under the current unprecedented circumstances we’re happy to automatically extend cover to include commuting.  

  • Customer wants to drive for a voluntary organisation to help people who can’t leave their homes, is this covered by their insurance?

We are extremely proud that many customers want to support the NHS volunteer army and we’re keen to do whatever we can to support these efforts, so if the customer has volunteered to deliver essential supplies to those affected by Covid-19 then this will automatically be covered by their insurance. You don’t need to make any changes to their policy or let us know.  

  • Is it possible for a customer to pause their policy if they are unlikely to use due to Covid-19?

Unfortunately, we can’t pause or freeze a policy, however the customer can cancel their policy and register the vehicle as SORN, but we would urge caution against this as below.

If the customer is thinking about registering for Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) for their vehicle, please remind them that it then cannot be driven, and it will also need to be stored off the road. If there’s a chance they might want to use the car again in the near future, we advise careful consideration as to whether SORN is the right option, as this will render the car illegal to drive while SORN. You can find more details about SORN here.

  • Our customer is abroad in the EU, and cannot return to the UK due to border restrictions or Covid-19 before their policies cover period of EU insurance runs out.

Don’t worry, in these cases we will extend comprehensive EU insurance until the customer is able to return home. They can still drive their car with full comprehensive insurance cover. We just ask that you let us know so that we can make a record of this, please email plhub@coveainsurance.co.uk.

  • The customer’s MOT is going to run out after 1st August. Do we need to inform you or try to arrange a test?
The Government announced that from 30th March 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by six months to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. The MOT certificate will not be extended if your customer’s vehicle’s MOT expires on or after 1 August 2020. Your customer must book an MOT as usual. MOT centres are open now for you to get an MOT. Customers can get an MOT up to a month (minus a day) before it runs out and keep the same renewal date.
  • The customer's photocard driving licence is due to expire. Is the temporary extension still in place?

The temporary measure to extend the validity of a driver’s photocard driving licence has now been extended for a further four months to ensure drivers remain compliant with the law during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This means that drivers whose photocard or entitlement to drive has either expired or is due to expire between 1 February and 31 December 2020 will be extended for a total of 11 months from the date of expiry.

The extension will take effect automatically and the licence holder will not need to take any action.  The DVLA will not be updating the driver records to reflect the 11-month extension. Information will be published on GOV.UK advising drivers of this temporary measure and will help ease the burden on motorists who are unable to renew their licence in the current circumstances.  The legal requirement to notify the DVLA of the onset or worsening of a medical condition remains and it will be an offence not to comply.

  • What happens if a customer is in isolation and is unable to pick up their car that has been in for repair?

If a customer is unable to pick up their vehicle and there are no other named drivers on their policy that can assist, then please let our claims team know as soon as possible and we would be very happy to help so that we can discuss the options and how we may be able to assist further.

  • If a customer is currently in self-isolation or living at another address due to Covid-19 then does this affect their policy and do we need to let you know?

If this is a temporary situation due to Covid-19 and their permanent residence is their usual residence then cover will not be affected and you do not need to let us know. If the temporary residence becomes their permanent residence following self-isolation/Government lockdown period, then please can you let us know.

Home Customers

  • Our customer is currently abroad, in hospital or away from their home due to Covid-19. Do standard unoccupancy rules apply?

If somebody is in hospital, abroad and struggling to return home, or simply keeping safe at a family member’s house, and can’t get home and the unoccupancy time is exceeded, then please reassure customers as we won’t restrict cover as these circumstances are outside of their control. 

We appreciate the government guidance around non-essential travel and therefore have waived the requirement for individuals to check on their property regularly if they are unable to incorporate this into their daily exercise or other essential travel during the Government lockdown period, as long as the property is suitably secure. This includes second homes and unoccupied homes where renovations are taking place.

  • What can a customer do to secure their unoccupied premises?

Unoccupied premises often present increased risks for damage to the property when no-one is there for an extended period of time. We are keen to ensure that these premises are appropriately secured to reduce the risk of vandalism, theft and arson, that water is switched off to prevent leaks within the property, and other suitable measures.  

Examples of actions that should be taken can include:

  1. Ensure doors and windows and gates are locked, and any security shutters are used, or windows and doors can be boarded up and any intruder alarms are set.
  2. Ensure any CCTV and external lighting is operational. Consider putting internal lighting on timers.
  3. Isolating utilities where suitable
  4. Removing any internal and external waste around the premises
  5. Ensuring the fire alarm is fully operational
  • Customer is using their home for work purposes – how does this affect their insurance?

We recognise that many customers are working from home due to Covid-19 and so there is no need to inform us of this and their insurance is still valid. There may be cover relating to business equipment as part of their policy so they would just need to check that the limits are still appropriate for their needs.

You can count on our unwavering support, whilst we continue to hope that this difficult situation ends soon. During these uncertain times we are trying to adopt a flexible approach and do whatever we can to help support you and your customers. If you think we can do more, then please do let us know, we’d really welcome your thoughts and suggestions.