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UPDATED Thursday 21st May, 2020

Statement regarding working and/or returning to work and key considerations.

The recent announcement by the Government, regarding the phased strategy for lifting the “lockdown” restrictions, has resulted in many of you wanting to know whether you can return to work, what you and your business needs to consider before doing so and how your insurance policy may respond.
The following comments, relate to the Professional Liability and Malpractice policy, that Balens offer for UK Policyholders. It aims to provide information to you, which should answer the vast majority of queries you may have. If you are not a UK policyholder or the information does not answer all your queries, please email us in the first instance at the following addresses. It should be noted that the information provided below, is our full guidance on the issue and phoning the office, will not provide any further clarity for you; it will simply result in less time for us being able to answer unrelated queries. As you can appreciate, we are still providing a limited service:

Where possible, please contact us by email, not telephone. Addresses are:

Q: I am thinking about re-opening my business and want to know whether I can see clients face to face again?
A: Balens, as an Insurance Broker, are unable to provide to provide you with guidance as to when you should resume face to face treatments, therapies, activities, instruction and/or advice to members of the public. As you can appreciate, making such important decisions is outside of our remit. Our core purpose, is to source a suitable policy to meet your insurance needs and to clarify how cover operates. That said, many of you will know, that Balens is a specialist Broker in the Heath, Wellbeing, Fitness and Beauty arena and prides itself on supporting our clients. We have therefore, put together the following for you to consider :

  • Follow the Government guidelines and advice at all times and abide by any legislative requirements.
  • Consult you Professional Body, Association and/or Training Provider for guidance, if relevant.
  • Follow Best Practice guidance and observe any Codes of Conduct, if relevant.
  • Consider whether it is essential that you undertake work, whether you are deemed a key or critical worker and whether all Government restrictions have been lifted for your business sector.
  • Evaluate whether you can treat clients remotely via video-link and observe social distancing rules/infection control.
  • Execute your own professional judgement

Q: Would the policy respond if I did undertake an activity for which I have insurance for under the Professional Liability Policy?
A: The Professional Liability policy does cover you against third party claims and allegations of negligently causing accidental bodily injury, which includes illness, in the course of your business. The onus will be on the claimant to prove you were negligent and liability will need to attach to you, for the policy to respond. Any claim will be individually judged by insurers and subject to the full policy terms and conditions.

Important note: The Professional Liability Policy does contain a Criminal or Malicious Acts exclusion so, if you violate a law, then indemnity granted under policy will not apply

Q: Can Balens provide guidance on H & S considerations for me, when I reopen my business:
A: Once again, this is unfortunately outside of our remit. Please refer to the bodies mentioned about that should provide guidance and support to you. Many of you are asking, if the policy will contain any new conditions that you will need to observe for treating/instructing clients, ie using PPE etc. At this present moment in time, we are not thinking about amending the policy to include conditions about practice protocols. If this situation changes, we will notify you accordingly. Please continue to observe all other terms and condition of cover, however.

The situation is an evolving one and as lockdown reduces and the “phased” return to work approach expands, further questions may be asked by you. We will be constantly monitoring and reviewing the situation and updating the website accordingly.

This update summarises:

Business Protection policy holders – Temporarily unoccupied premises

Business Protection policy holders - Loss of income insurance

Legal Advice and Support

Maintaining service, and how you can help us - email, BACS payments and other practical steps

An Insurance Q&A - general guidance on policy cover and claims.

A statement from our Chairman, David Balen

Previous Updates

Whilst clearly necessary, we recognise and share the concerns of all our customers about the serious impact of the continuing Coronavirus ‘lockdown’ measures. The magnitude of the issue puts Government front & centre, with only State resources adequate to provide financial support to individuals and businesses of all sizes. The breadth and depth of support packages is considerable - like many of you, Balens are making appropriate use of the facilities available during this most strange time.
For our part, we are doing our level best to support all of our valued clients. We hope the updates and insurance ‘Q&A’ below will answer many of your questions, but if you do need more assistance then – if you can - please email us in the first instance:

Maintaining service

All customer service staff that can do so are working from home, accessing our operational systems remotely. We’ve maintained telephone support but capacity here is more limited, and with fewer staff available we may not always achieve our usual speed and service levels.

As a result of this:

  • Where possible we are issuing renewals and all other documentation by email only. We trust those who prefer postal renewals will accept email in the circumstances.
  • There may be periods within our normal business hours with limited or no telephone service. You will be able to request a call-back during these times.

 

Help us to help you - practical steps that will make a big difference

We'd greatly welcome your support on these key matters:

  • Where possible, please contact us by email, not telephone. Addresses are:
  • Make renewal and other premium payments by BACS transfer. Your documents give an important BACS payment reference and instructions.
  • If you can't use BACS then use our automated telephone renewal service, again your documents will explain how. Avoid cheque payment unless you have no other way.
  • Check your inbox regularly, including spam folders, for Balens emails, particularly when approaching your renewal date. If you've changed your Email address recently let us know.
  • Use our online services as highlighted in your documents.
  • Follow our website 'News' link for updates and how our services may change as the situation develops.
  • Check our Insurance Q&A section in the first instance to try to answer cover related questions. We will update this frequently.

We will do our best, and above all we really appreciate you being patient and kind with our staff, thank you.

 

Insurance Q&A

This section provides high level, summary guidance on:

  • Implications for your Professional Liability & Malpractice policy, and how it may respond to negligence claims made against you,
  • Business Interruption cover (if part of your Business Protection policy)
  • Other virus-related insurance matters.

Some very important caveats:

  • This is general guidance only; individual matters arising require reference to the full terms and conditions of the relevant policy.
  • Insurance companies (irrespective of the virus) will not comment definitively on hypothetical claim scenarios. Any actual claim will be assessed in line with policy cover on its individual, specific circumstances and merits.
Professional Liability & Malpractice insurance:

Q: What cover applies to virus related claims?
A: The policy covers you against third party claims and allegations of negligently causing accidental bodily injury (which includes illness) in the course of your business. The onus will be on the claimant to prove you were negligent. Any claim will be individually judged by insurers and subject to the full policy terms and conditions.

Q: What do I do if someone makes an allegation or claim against me?
A: Report it immediately to us, preferably by email to Claims@balens.co.uk. We will support you in the normal way in getting all relevant information together for insurers. Do not admit liability. Please refer to your policy document for full claims conditions.

Q: Does my policy cover me to practice my business activities online?
A: Yes - with certain exceptions the policy will automatically provide cover for the business activities on your policy schedule when it is possible to conduct them via Skype, telephone or online consultations. All are subject to the standard terms and conditions of the policy, including the record keeping conditions that you can find in the 'Conditions' section of the policy wording.

If you have any queries about online or 'virtual' trading please email:

The main exceptions to cover, unless specifically agreed and endorsed on your policy, are:

  • Activities provided to clients in the USA and/or Canada, and
  • Cover for training resulting in the issue of a certificate of competency.

Please contact us at the email addresses above if you require cover for either of these matters. Additional information will be required.

Business Protection Insurance:

Q: Does my policy include Business Interruption/Loss of Income cover?
A: This is an optional cover section - your policy schedule will show if cover is operative.

Q: Will my policy cover me for loss of income should I need to shut my business due to the Coronavirus?
A: Please see our page on Business Protection Policy Holders - Loss of Income Insurance

Q: Does my policy cover for any loss of income if I, or my clients, cancel appointments because of the Coronavirus?
A: No, there is no cover under the policy for loss of income or business expenses in this scenario.

Q: Will insurers extend cover for all virus-related loss of income?
A: No - given the circumstances we cannot foresee any insurer starting to offer cover at this time.

Other virus-related Q&As

Q: I have a Business Protection policy - am I covered for Employers' Liability?
A: The policy automatically includes cover for Employers' Liability. This covers claims from employees for bodily injury arising out of their employment with you. There would need to be an element of negligence attaching to you (the policy holder), for a claim to be considered. Please report any allegations to Claims@balens.co.uk immediately, and do not make any admission of liability.

Q: What is the position with Personal Accident & Sickness (Income Protection) Policies?
A: Balens predominately deal with Personal Accident & Sickness Insurance policies for individuals. These policies provide benefits should you be unable to work due to an accident and/or illness that you suffer in connection with your business activities. If your policy includes sickness cover and you contract Coronavirus a claim may be considered, as always, each case will be taken on its merits. We are seeking clarity from insurers should the loss arise from self-isolation without actually having the illness.

Please note we do not provide policies for mortgage protection payments, unemployment protection, redundancy, permanent health or long-term income protection

Q: I hold a different type of policy with Balens - how can I find out how it will respond relating to the Coronavirus?
A: Please email ComBus@balens.co.uk for guidance.

Q: Should I continue to run my business and offer to see clients for treatments, therapies, consultations and or advice?
A: As an insurance broker such advice exceeds our remit, regrettably we cannot comment. We know a number of professional associations are issuing guidance, if you are a member please check your association's website. We also recommend you refer to government guidelines regarding the running of your business - www.gov.uk

Q: What do I do if I think I may need to claim under my policy?
A: Notify us immediately via Claims@balens.co.uk. Claims conditions vary by policy type so please refer to your policy documents for full terms and conditions.

Q: My insurance policy through Balens is due for renewal, but I’m not working. Can Balens help?
A: The key question you should consider here, is “what does your insurance policy provides cover for?”

If the policy is for Professional Liability, Public & Products Liability Insurance, and you are still providing advice, treatment, therapies or instruction to any clients, even virtually (via online platforms such as zoom etc) then, you will still have the need to protect you and your business for breach of your professional duty. Legal defence and damage pay-outs can be costly.

If your policies include insurance cover for loss, destruction and or damage to physical assets that you own and/or are responsible for then, we consider that any suitable policy should remain in force. The likelihood of a fire, flood, theft/vandalism etc still remains. Consider insurance requirements under any contracts you may have entered into for the leasing of equipment and/or property – you may be contractually bound to continue with insurance cover.

Balens are very aware at the moment that businesses need our full support and have options regarding this (please also see below re Finance). Please contact us for details.

Q: I may struggle with repayments on my insurance Finance agreement, what should I do?
A: Please contact us - we will always try to support you and where possible come to a new, more manageable arrangement based on your individual circumstances. It is really important that you make contact at the earliest opportunity and prior to cancelling any direct debit mandate with your bank. Early contact gives us the best chance of agreeing a revised arrangement for you, the absence of which may result in cancellation of your policy.
Please email: