With blanket media coverage of COVID-19 and government restrictions on activities that we once took for granted, it can be easy to overlook that all the normal pre-pandemic risks to businesses remain, and it’s just as important they are still covered.
Denials of business interruption and travel claims due to the pandemic have sparked headlines and sometimes give the impression insurers have taken a step backwards. But that’s not the case. The industry has taken a range of actions to help SMEs maintain their cover.
It’s true that pandemic risks are not covered in general, as they can affect locations everywhere all at once, and the size of the risk is greater than the capital the global industry has in reserve to meet claims.
Policy wordings were tightened after the SARS virus outbreaks in Asia raised alarms in the early 2000s. Local regulatory stress-testing was carried out, and insurers responded to ensure their long-term resilience.
Amid the current pandemic, insurers continue to cover the usual risks businesses face, such as fire, theft and liability issues, and have been paying out claims to assist affected enterprises in getting back on their feet.
Special measures have been introduced to ensure SMEs remain covered despite changing circumstances affecting operations, and assistance is available to ease financial strains in cases of hardship.
Common changes have included continuity of cover where premises are unoccupied due to COVID-19, with no changes to premiums terms or conditions.
Policyholders who have wanted to cancel their cover have been able to receive refunds on the unused portion of their premium with no administration or cancellation fees, while premium deferrals have also been an option.
Pay by the month instalments have been available in certain cases for no additional cost, while reduced or waived excess amounts have also been offered.
In the meantime, governments have also kept a number of measures in place to support individuals and businesses, while adjusting strategies to buoy the struggling national economy as supressing the virus remains a work in progress.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has provided clearances for several major insurers to extend measures they had previously announced until the end of the year, while other firms which devised their own customer support schemes have also extended measures.
Insurers have had to make further adjustments as the pandemic has continued and have started to look at how they can help firms recover and take advantage of opportunities as the economy revives.
These include one insurer introducing a liability extension to assist businesses increasingly serving customers outdoors as restrictions eased, while another offered grants to help eligible SMEs, with money available for advertising, equipment, business consulting and promotional printing.
So, how can these support measures help your business? Talk with us to discuss what assistance is available and how we can help you stay protected through this difficult period.