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Coronavirus and business insurance

Coronavirus and business insurance

Business owners are understandably concerned about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their business, staff, supply chains and revenue. We look at what help is available.

Emily Kindness
From the Business team
minute read
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Posted 31 MARCH 2020

Is coronavirus covered by business interruption insurance?

In general, business interruption policies are designed to provide cover for physical damage that stops a business trading – like fire, floods and natural disaster. Some policies may also include some form of cover for certain diseases. However, they may exclude compensation for diseases that aren’t specifically listed in the policy and for communicable disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.

If you’re unsure, contact your insurance provider to find out if COVID-19 is covered under your existing insurance policy.

Please note: The information in this article was correct at the time of publication on 31st March 2020, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated, but check with your insurance provider or potential provider directly to confirm any details.

Will I be covered if health authorities order my business to close?

It is unlikely, unless your policy lists you as being covered for both pandemics and government-ordered closure. If this is the case, you may be able to get compensation in the event of forced closure, but it will depend on the exact nature of your policy.

You should check with your insurance provider to see if you’re covered.

Does personal accident insurance cover for coronavirus?

Personal accident insurance offers protection for you if you are unable to work due to an accidental injury. This type of insurance doesn’t cover sickness, and so you won’t be able to make a personal accident claim in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19).

I am losing business due to coronavirus. Can I get compensation?

COVID-19 is having a huge impact on businesses both through lack of footfall and uncertainty, leading customers to back out of contracts.

Several factors may affect whether an insurance provider covers a claim. These may include whether covered diseases are specifically listed in your policy, or whether authorities feel that a business is required to close. Check your policy documents carefully to see what your insurance provider says. Claims will likely be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Am I covered for coronavirus if I’m self-employed?

While new business interruption insurance policies don’t cover coronavirus (COVID-19), previously existing policies are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis. You should check your policy documents carefully, or ask your provider for advice.

However, the UK government recently announced a series of measures for self-employed workers. If you’re self-employed, you’ll be able to claim for a grant worth 80% of your average monthly profits, up to the value of £2,500. This scheme is available to anyone with annual trading profits of up to £50,000.

Please know that you can only claim for this grant if the majority of your income comes from self-employment, and you filed a tax return for 2019.

Will public liability or employers’ liability insurance cover me for staff sickness?

If you have a public liability or employers’ liability claim made against you on the grounds that you didn’t protect staff or members of the public adequately against the disease, you may be covered by these types of business insurance.

Public liability and employers’ liability claims are being considered on a case-by-case basis, so if this issue arises for your business, get in touch with your insurance provider.

If an employee has symptoms of COVID-19 or needs to self-isolate in line with government advice, they are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one.

The government is bringing forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020) to reclaim SSP paid because of COVID-19.

Employees are not required to provide a note from their GP in relation to absence due to COVID-19 so be sure to keep a track of all absences to support any claim.

Find out more about government support for businesses.

Key person insurance may provide cover if a key member of staff becomes unwell with coronavirus. Be sure to check your policy or contact your provider for details if you are unsure.

Can I upgrade my insurance to cover COVID-19?

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to upgrade your insurance policy to cover COVID-19. However, it’s always worth contacting your insurance provider to discuss the best option for you and your business.

I don’t have business insurance. Is it too late to get cover for coronavirus?

It is most likely too late to get cover for COVID-19 under a new insurance policy. However, it may be worth investing in business insurance to help protect you against disruption in the future.

Is there any other support available for businesses?

The government put forward an initial £330 billion package of measures to help businesses in the coronavirus outbreak. It has since added several new measures, including some specifically targeted at the self-employed. This includes:

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which all UK employers are eligible for
  • Loan support for large firms
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – this will be delivered by the British Business Bank and will support loans of up to £5 million, with the first six months interest free
  • 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England - including nurseries
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief for SMEs, to help them claim back SSP
  • The HMRC Time to Pay Scheme – businesses may be able to get support on a case-by-case basis
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • Relaxing regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application
  • Allowing self-employed people to access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees

Find out more about government support.

Businesses and self-employed people who are having difficulties paying their tax because of coronavirus can call the HMRC Coronavirus Helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Help is also available from Business Debtline on 0800 197 6026.

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