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The Insurance Risks of re-opening your business after lockdown

The Insurance Risks of re-opening your business after lockdown

This week, in the UK, some businesses have been given the green light to start operating again after lockdown. Garden centres are allowed to open again, adding them to the list of other retailers like DIY stores who have recently reopened their doors. Estate agents have been allowed to start operating again as well as other types of businesses like manufacturing industries and trades who are unable to complete their work from home.

Whilst many people will welcome the move to get businesses working again, there are understandable concerns from both business owners, employees and customers regarding safety and the possibility of effective social distancing. For some, maintaining effective social distancing may mean limiting the number of staff who are able to work at one time, looking at the provision or capacity of rest areas, staff kitchens and other facilities. This in turn has a potential impact on workplace health and safety requirements which need to be maintained despite the difficulties.

To help businesses understand the requirements for working safely, the UK Government have created guidance for the following sectors:

Construction and Outdoor Work

Factories, plants and warehouses

Labs and research facilities

Offices and contact centres

Other people’s homes

Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery

Shops and branches


Each of these can be viewed by following the links above. The main thing a business needs to do is to assess and identify the risks for their specific environment and to put in place measures to mitigate that risk. The HSE has a useful online guide on managing risk which you can work through.

So, if you are amongst the business types who are reopening – what do you need to consider from an insurance point of view?

Arguably the most relevant issues from an insurance perspective are around liability. This would include liability for employees, customers and members of the public who may be affected by your business operations.

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety whilst at work. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.

To make sure your employers liability insurance cover is not affected in the event of a claim, you will need to ensure you make all employees aware of any changes to health and safety policy which have been implemented to manage the risk COVID-19 and are following them. This should be documented. The government guidance includes access to downloadable notice called ‘Staying COVID-19 secure in 2020’ showing the five main steps which have been implemented to ensure safer working.

If you are a business which is customer facing and you will be inviting the public into your business premises again, once more, you need to make sure you have done everything possible to outline the terms under which you are able to do that and ensure that these are being adhered to.

Generally speaking, provided you are rigorous in your application of new health and safety requirements and you ensure that you have done everything you can to mitigate risk, discussed this with your employees, and communicated this to visitors to your premises, you should remain on the right side of the new safety guidelines (an obvious caveat to this is if your business type does not allow a way of operating within which you can follow the guidance – in which case you should probably not be operating).

If you have any concerns regarding your business insurance and how that relates to the current situation – get in touch with a member of our team who will be pleased to clarify any questions you may have.

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