Insurance Ireland are very aware that many of our-customers and businesses are suffering as a result of the very serious disruption caused by the Coronavirus (Covid-19). Insurance Ireland members want customers to know that we will support them and will be there to deal with claims in the weeks and months ahead. The sector is committed to working with customers during this crisis and to helping as best it can to alleviate the impacts in this challenging environment.
If you are unsure as to what your policy covers, please check with your insurer or your broker and they will talk through any other questions you may have. We have produced an information guide based on queries we have received in different insurance areas.
Standard commercial/SME insurance policies, the type the vast majority of businesses purchase, generally provide cover against a wide range of day to day risks including damage caused by fire, flood, theft, storm damage etc, i.e. typically the risks which are physically present on the business premises. Business interruption policies generally cover loss of income due to physical damage caused by a named peril.
Policies are therefore unlikely to provide cover for the extraordinary preventative measures (up to and including decisions to close) that have been taken by many businesses to implement social distancing guidelines to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Businesses should check the scope of their particular cover and speak to their insurance company or broker. In the small minority of cases where there is a disease extension under a business interruption policy an outbreak of Covid-19 at the premises itself is generally required to trigger cover as well as a denial of access by public authorities.
Insurers will be guided by the travel advice as published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (dfa.ie). We would strongly urge that where people are advised not to travel that they heed this advice from government.The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas at least until March 29, and this directive could be extended.
We advise customers to check their policy documents as the scope of policy cover varies. You can do this by reviewing your Insurance Product Information Document (IPID). Some policies provide cover for non-refundable cancellation costs where there is a government directive prohibiting travel. Others operate if you have purchased an optional travel disruption extension, and the Department of Foreign Affairs states that they advise against all but essential travel. These policies would generally have been sold prior to mid-March 2020. Travel policies sold since then do not generally cover cancellation costs due to the Coronavirus.If your flight has been cancelled your airline may refund you the fare or offer you an alternative booking.
Insurance Ireland have also fielded queries in recent weeks regarding potential policy issues around both working from home. Insurers understand the need for remote working at this time and will be supportive of policyholders who have the option of working remotely. Insurance Ireland have liaised with Insurers and they will waive standard restrictions regarding working from during these challenging times as we understand customer needs have changed and will respond positively to the increased number of people working remotely.
Working from home, should be covered by standard home insurance policies, assuming that the work is clerical in nature. Policyholders will generally have cover for their personal office equipment such as laptops, computers etc in the contents section of the Household policy up to stated limits. The business equipment used (e.g. Laptop) provided by their employer is likely not to be covered, however in most cases is the responsibility of the employer for ensuring their equipment is insured away from the office premises. For full details in relation to your cover you should refer to the policy documents issued when they purchased their policy or contact your Insurer or Broker for further information.
Insurers priority is to ensure their customers can continue to have their claims paid in this challenging environment. Given the disruptions to transport and manufacturing supply chains because of Coronavirus, it may take longer to get the necessary parts to repair your car.
Insurers recognise that voluntary organisations play a crucial role in the current crisis and insurers have committed to waiving any restrictions relating to volunteer driving within their motor insurance policies to help protect the most vulnerable in society.
Life assurance policies
Most life assurance policies will cover death as a result of a Covid-19 infections.
Income protection policies
Income protection insurance is designed to replace some or all of your regular working income in the event that you are too ill to work for a period of time. This assumes that you will be medically advised to take time off work and most policies will require that a diagnosis of an illness, including Covid-19, has been received in order to claim on that policy. It should be noted that many policies will include a deferred period which must take place before the claim will be paid. It also means that for many policies, you cannot claim in the event of self-isolation, but you can claim if you have been diagnosed with the illness and will not be able to work for longer than the agreed deferred period. Redundancy cover is not generally included in income protection policies.
Critical Illness Cover
Critical Illness Cover is designed to pay a benefit on diagnosis of a defined Critical Illness such as a stroke or heart attack. This benefit is meant to assist the policyholder with life and environment changes that may needed as a result of the illness to assist recovery. Covid-19 is not a defined critical illness and diagnosis of the infection would not be covered by this type of policy. However, complications from the infection may lead to the development of a critical illness, which may be covered. Please check your policy documents for details of the illnesses covered.
Covid- 19(Coronavirus) has been classified by the World Health Organisation as a global pandemic. The Irish Government is leading a single national response managed through the Public Health System. The HSE are advising anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to the virus, not to attend a hospital or healthcare facility. Instead, you should call your GP or the HSE directly on 1850 241 850 for advice. Any decision on admission to hospital will be under the guidance of the HSE.