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The impact of COVID-19 is changing the way we all do business, and we recognize that you have questions about your insurance program. As an essential service, we want to assure you that even in these uncertain times we’re here for you.
We remain open for business and committed to providing you with the expert advice and guidance you’ve come to expect from Cowan. We’re all in this together, and we are working to help protect you and your business. We want to share with you answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received since the pandemic began.
Do I need to let you know if my business has reopened?
Any changes made to your business, including reopening, changes in operations, changes in products, or how you are delivering your products or services, should be discussed with your Account Executive to ensure that you have sufficient coverage in place. Our insurance carrier partners continue to review their policies as the situation evolves. As an organization, we are advocating on your behalf, reviewing insurance language, and working to find coverage where available. We encourage all our clients to be familiar with the provincial re-opening guidelines for your specific industry in order to minimize risk.
As the economy reopens, do I need to inform you if my building(s) remains unoccupied?
Several of our insurance carrier partners had adjusted or extended relief measures around unoccupied buildings for businesses that had to temporarily close during the pandemic. As restrictions loosen, and businesses resume operations, our insurance partners are revisiting the definition of a premises that is unoccupied or vacant. We could begin to see new provisions being applied to your policy. For example, failure to occupy the premises on a regular basis and resume operations or abide by the guidelines set by insurance companies for regular property checks could be in breach of the conditions set forth in the policy and reduce or eliminate coverage. You will need to review the vacancy clause in your policy to ensure all conditions are being met. Please contact your Account Executive to discuss any questions you have.
What do I need to do if I plan to put my commercial vehicles back on the road?
If you reduced or removed coverage on your commercial vehicles to comprehensive only, you will need to contact us to update your policy before you or your employees can drive them. As a reminder, it is illegal to operate a vehicle without Liability coverage – fines start at $5,000 and could be as high as $25,000. If you are driving without liability coverage and are involved in an accident, there will be no coverage under the policy and you would be personally liable for any damages.
With businesses beginning to reopen, will there be any changes to my billing process?
If you are on a direct billing plan with your carrier, they may be reverting to their normal billing processes in the next 60 days. Please reach out to your Account Executive if you have any questions or concerns about your payments.
Can I expect to see changes to my insurance policy moving forward?
Some of our insurance partners are clarifying their positions with respect to
COVID-19 and other pandemic situations and are specifically adding exclusions. Your Account Executive is available to work with you should this impact your specific policy and how this may affect your coverage in the future.
What do I do if I made changes to my policy while my business was closed due to COVID-19?
If you made changes to your policy over the past few months, please contact your Account Executive to discuss any updates to your operations, to ensure you have sufficient coverage when you reopen.
What changes should I make to my salon/spa to ensure we maintain proper social distancing?
Allowing adequate space for social distancing is an important step in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Simple actions you can take to assist with social distancing at your business include:
Are there additional health and safety protocols I should implement when I reopen my salon/spa?
While most salons and spas have existing controls in place for cleaning and sanitization, there are additional steps that can be taken, including:
For more information, Ontario Workplace Safety and Prevention Services has put together a helpful guide (.PDF).
What steps can I take to keep my clients safe when they visit my salon/spa?
In addition to adhering to public health guidelines around physical distancing and the use of PPE, other steps you can take to ensure the safety of your clients include:
Can I continue to offer the same services I did previously?
When offering services to clients, it is important to continue to follow public health advice, especially as it relates to physical contact with others. Consider these guidelines:
We encourage you to check the government of Ontario’s website regularly for the most up-to-date information and guidelines.
Is there anything I can do to make my insurance more affordable?
Insurance companies determine premium based on the risk exposure for each individual business operation. If your operations have changed, please contact us. We can explore options for premium savings that are right for your business on a case-by-case basis.
Will filing a business interruption claim due to COVID-19 affect my insurance premium?
Our insurance company partners treat claims on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the frequency and severity of a claim when addressing premium. As the situation evolves, insurance companies continue to review their policies. As an organization, we are meeting regularly with insurance companies as well as keeping abreast of new information in order to understand their claims position. Please contact your Account Executive for more information.
Are there ways for me to save money on my insurance program during the COVID-19 crisis?
Reducing Liability coverage to “Premises Only”
A Commercial General Liability policy covers damage to third parties resulting from bodily injury or property damage. This could arise out of premises that you own or occupy, your business operations, products that you manufacture or sell, the completed operations of your business, advertising, and personal injury liability.
For example, if a product that you manufacture malfunctions and leads to a claim, your Commercial General Liability policy will cover the damages, as well as the legal expenses. Premises Only coverage would protect you from claims that occur on the business’ physical location. There would not be coverage for products or completed operations, and thus you would not be covered in the above scenario.
Reducing Commercial Auto coverage
If you only have one vehicle, removing liability coverage will also remove coverage for Accident Benefits. If you are involved in an accident as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle or are hit as a pedestrian, you would need to rely on the Accident Benefits coverage of others. This could pose a problem as their limits may not be adequate.
Another consideration would be if you have financing on your vehicle or are leasing a vehicle. Review your contract before making any changes, as most financing, and lease agreements require full coverage to be placed on the vehicle.
Fleet policies require you to maintain liability coverage on at least five or ten vehicles (depending on the insurer) to keep your fleet rating. Some insurers allow fleet operators to carry less than five vehicles with liability coverage and still maintain the fleet rating, but this would need to be negotiated before reducing coverage.
For taxi and livery businesses, municipalities may require liability coverage on vehicles to maintain the plate, or may require notice if coverage is removed. It would be the operator’s responsibility to check with their municipality for their regulations.
As a reminder, it is illegal to operate a vehicle without Liability coverage – fines start at $5,000 and could be as high as $25,000.
Can I cancel my insurance?
We would recommend you discuss this with your Cowan Account Executive, as you may still require coverage even if your business is closed. We are here to advise you of the best way to protect your commercial and personal assets against claims now and in the future.
I may have business income loss due to COVID-19. When do I have to report a claim? Can I wait to report it?
Our insurance carrier partners continue to review their policies as the situation evolves. As an organization, we are meeting regularly with insurance companies as well as keeping abreast of new information in order to understand their claims position.
Does my coverage change based on my business being deemed essential or non-essential?
For the most part, being deemed an essential service by your respective level of government does not change the coverage available to you. For Business Interruption coverage to apply, typically an insured peril under your property policy must have occurred, causing physical loss or damage to your building, equipment, or stock. However, insurers may take into consideration the date of your provincially mandated closure when reviewing potential coverage, as well as restrictions around your business being vacant or shut down.
Some insurers may limit your coverage if you have shut down voluntarily but are still considered an essential service. If your business was deemed an essential service in one province but not another, this could also affect your coverage. We recommend contacting your Account Executive to discuss any changes you’ve made to your operations during this time.
In some instances, it may be beneficial to file a claim should coverage become available at a future date. We encourage you to keep detailed records during this time.
We have previously seen situations where clients required proof of a denied insurance claim to be eligible for certain government programs. Your policy may include limitations on when claims may be reported. We recommend our clients complete the Business Interruption Claim Form (.PDF) and submit it to email@example.com and we will continue to advocate on your behalf.
Do I have coverage under any policies other than Trade Credit?
For Business Interruption coverage to apply, typically an insured peril under your property policy must have occurred, causing physical loss or damage to your building, equipment, or stock. This includes things like fire, equipment breakdown, and wind. There are also various extensions available for Business Interruption to provide coverage when there is no damage to your property, such as the Civil Authority extension for mandatory evacuation. Normally these extensions must be related to a covered peril (for example, the fire department requiring you to evacuate due to a nearby wildfire).
Our insurance carrier partners continue to review their policies as the situation evolves, and you may or may not be eligible for some amounts of coverage. As an organization, we are doing all we can by reviewing policies and trying to find coverage for you where available, as well as meeting regularly with insurance companies to understand their claims position.
In some instances, it may be beneficial to file a claim should coverage become available at a future date. We encourage our clients to keep detailed records during this time.
We have previously seen situations where clients required proof of a denied insurance claim to be eligible for certain government programs. Your policy may include limitations on when claims may be reported. We recommend our clients file a Business Interruption claim by sending in the information below, and we will continue to advocate on your behalf.
How do I reach the claims department?
As part of our continued efforts to address COVID-19, our claims team is working remotely. Please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voicemail at 1-866-912-6926. One of our representatives will get back to you as soon as possible.
If you are looking to make a Business Interruption claim, we ask that you please send us the information indicated in the previous answer.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada announced that insurance companies are providing auto insurance premium relief due to vehicles being driven less as a result of COVID-19. Am I able to request this for my policy?
The premium relief announced applies primarily to personal auto insurance policies. We are investigating whether this announcement applies to individually rated commercial vehicles as well. Please contact your Account Executive to discuss your specific situation.
If I have a large fleet of vehicles insured under a 21B Blanket policy and I want to park the vehicles temporarily due to work stoppage, what options do I have?
Under a 21B Blanket policy it is not permitted to change coverage on some of the vehicles and receive a reduced premium. However, you may be able to amend the policy. We recommend contacting your Account Executive to discuss your situation in more detail.
For commercial transportation companies with vehicles being driven fewer kilometers due to COVID-19, am I able to keep coverage on my vehicle but change the rating information?
Most insurers are making policy assessments on a case-by-case basis. Our insurance carrier partners continue to review their policies as the situation evolves. Please contact your Commercial Account Executive and we will gather the options and necessary requirements from the insurer on your behalf.
I’m a director or officer of an organization. What type of claims might I expect to see as a result of COVID-19?
We are predicting COVID-19 may trigger various types of losses against directors and officers of organizations. This may include employment practices liability claims from employees being exposed to the virus through their work, or due to lay-offs and terminations. Losses may also arise from financial hardship or bankruptcy and whether directors and officers properly prepared their organization for business continuity. Only your insurance carrier can determine coverage for these types of losses. Cancelling a directors and officers policy in order to cut costs may expose your personal assets to a claim. Any suspected loss should be reported immediately to confirm how your policy may respond. We recommend contacting your Account Executive to discuss your situation in more detail.
Isn’t COVID-19 a pollutant that should be covered under my pollution coverage?
Currently COVID-19 is not considered a pollutant. Our insurance carrier partners continue to review their policies as the situation evolves. As an organization, we are meeting regularly with insurance companies as well as keeping abreast of new information in order to understand their claims position. Please contact your Account Executive for more information.
If I have a Trade Credit policy, how do I ensure my claim is valid and collectable?
Times are volatile and uncertain, but please be sure you abide by the reporting requirements stipulated in your Accounts Receivable Insurance Program(s). In particular, please adhere to overdue reporting requirements.
Your suppliers will likely request an extension of terms, or repayment plans, or something similar. Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your policy to ensure you respect the requirements it stipulates. If, after a review of the policy, you still have questions, please contact us.
If my business is not currently operational, do I still need insurance?
If you are experiencing a change in your business operations, please inform us as soon as possible, so we can be sure the coverage we are securing on your behalf will suit your business’s unique needs.
If I’m too busy to worry about my insurance renewal right now, can I contact you at a later date?
While we appreciate that many of our clients are experiencing operational challenges at this time, as always, we require your confirmation before we can secure your insurance policy renewal. We are not able to extend your existing policy past the renewal date without hearing from you.
If you have made a change in your business operations, such as moving to a remote working environment, or if you have made the difficult decision to close your business temporarily, please let us know as soon as you can.
If my building(s) are temporarily vacant or unoccupied, or my business is shut down, what do I need to do to ensure I am protected?
Most commercial insurance policies contain provisions around businesses or buildings closing or remaining unoccupied for prolonged periods, even if only temporarily. If your team is working remotely, you need to review the vacancy clause in your insurance policy to ensure you are meeting the specific conditions.
The clause may require a competent individual to be checking the buildings regularly and documenting that there are no water leaks or damage from weather, animals, or intruders. Policy conditions regarding vacancy must be met to have valid coverage in place in case you experience an unforeseen loss.
My business is changing due to the pandemic (for example, making deliveries or changing my manufacturing operation). Does my insurance still provide coverage?
Please call your account executive to discuss how your business is changing and growing. We can determine whether or not the coverage you currently have is appropriate, and find solutions to meet your needs.
How will I get my policy documents and liability slips from you?
We have reached out to our insurance partners, and many can provide these electronically to us during this time. Our offices remain open, and our team can issue liability slips or policies if you are unable to accept them, or your insurer is unable to send them digitally.
Should you need to report a business claim, our team of experts is available to help. As we are dealing with an increased volume of calls as a result of COVID-19, we encourage you to contact us via email at email@example.com
Our 24/7 toll-free number is 1 (866) 912-6926
For additional information about claims, please visit cowangroup.ca/claims
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