As you know, this is a difficult and uncertain time as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread and impact our communities. Like most organisations, Regional has been reviewing its ways of working and from next week we decided to adopt a precautionary approach, over and above official guidelines.
To ensure the safety and wellbeing of our customers, people, partners and suppliers, we have made some adjustments to our business operations to ensure we minimise any potential risks in this current environment. We have outlined these adjustments below.
I’d like to reassure you that we have strong business continuity plans in place to ensure that we can continue to support you and your customers during this time.
Working from home
Where possible, our people will be working from home or remotely and will be available on emails and over the phone for any questions you may have.
We have decided to cease all non-essential travel and limit any face-to face interaction.
We will increase our use of technology such as video conferencing, to ensure we remain connected with you and support the ongoing servicing of your customers.
Ensuring people are safe and well
To protect your safety, our people will be asked the same screening questions before meeting with any external partners and we have encouraged any employee that feels unwell to stay home and seek the appropriate medical advice.
If our people do meet with you in person, they will follow the health advice from the authorities including appropriate social distancing.
During times like these, it’s important we work together so we can continue making our people, customer’s and partner’s world a safer place. With the increased attention to hygiene, limiting non-critical physical meetings, and the increased use of technology, we will continue to support you.
Important Information – Insurance Coverage
Business Interruption and COVID-19
We have already been contacted by several clients about their Business Interruption policy.
Business Interruption policies generally respond to physical damage to an insured’s property. If there is no physical damage to the insured's property caused by COVID-19, then no cover would be applied.
This means the only cover an insured can make a claim on is if there is an extension for “Infectious or contagious diseases”. However, this cover only operates when the infectious disease results in closure or evacuation of an insured premises.
We are not aware of any circumstances in which COVID-19 has resulted in closure or evacuation of an insured's premises. Even so, there may be other reasons why the claim may not be covered.
Attached is information outlines why Business Interruption Insurance does not cover this type of event and some helpful tips for managing this current risk.
Travel insurance policies commonly include exclusions for pandemics and epidemics which includes viruses such as SARS, Avian and Swine Flu.
In order for these exclusions to be relied upon, the insurer must be able to demonstrate that the virus fits within an exclusion. They must be able to provide evidence such as Department of Affairs & Trade, WHO warnings and medical evidence.
Whether an insured is covered depends on which policy they have taken out and what date they purchased it. Also, whether cancellations are covered depends on when the travel policy cover was taken out. If it was after the COVID-19 was deemed to be a public health emergency, then it won’t be covered.
Travel insurance policies may cover insured's who cancel the remainder of their trip if they were already in the country before DFAT raised its travel advice to a Level 4 however after that date, cover will not be extended due to the exclusion which is in most if not all, travel policies.
Medical expenses: some travel policies will cover insured's in the affected region for medical expenses related to COVID-19 if they commenced the travel before DFAT advisory was lifted to Level 4.
Does travel insurance cover COVID-19?
Cover for medical expenses and cancellation caused by epidemic - only if already in the region before the insurer issues a travel alert or DFAT raises travel advice level to “Reconsider Travel” or “Do Not Travel”.
Note: between 20 January to 24 January 2020, most travel insurers had issued a travel alert which triggered the “travel advice” exclusion.
For corporate travel: is more likely to be covered if travel insurance was taken out before the outbreak started.
For leisure travel: is likely to be more restrictive than corporate and may include exclusions for “Epidemic” (including a pandemic).
Public liability insurance would respond to applicable claims relating to COVID-19, as long as there is no exclusion or if the exclusion only applies to specific policies. However, if somebody held an event in defiance of a government order, there is likely to be no cover.