Temporary closure of your business due to COVID-19 – Risk Control Measures you need to consider

Due to the coronavirus restrictions, many businesses are having to temporarily close, and allow staff to help sustain operations via home working. Zurich Australia has provided some general advice on how to protect business premises during temporary closures. If the Government restrictions continue for a significant period, further action may be required. This guidance is from an overall risk management perspective only. Any queries relating to insurance cover should be made with your Action Insurance Brokers advisor:-

Risk Control Measures:

• Waste: Remove all external waste, pallets and empty skips ahead of closing.
• Waste bins: Empty all waste bins and relocate to a secure area, ideally at least 10 metres from the building. If this is not possible and bins and skips are within 10m, these should have lockable lids.
• Fire Systems: Ensure that any fire and/or sprinkler systems are fully operational
• Fire Doors: Carry out a check to ensure that internal fire doors are closed
• Building Utilities: Shutdown any non-essential electrical devices and building utilities. Isolate nonessential services, gas valves etc.
• Inspections: Where at all possible (and subject to Government restrictions) try to implement periodic inspections of the building (internally and externally). Please ensure that you comply with existing government guidance regarding vulnerable people and lone worker risk assessments. Consider the provisioning for alternative skilled personnel, such as security guarding/patrolling companies.
• Physical Security: Carry out a check to ensure physical security measures are in place e.g. fences are in good repair, windows are locked, shutters are in place, gates are locked.
• Intruder Alarm: Make sure your intruder alarm is set and that the remote signalling is in place. Ensuresufficient numbers of key holders are available to respond to an alarm activation within 20 minutes.
• Maintenance: so far as is reasonably practical, there is an expectation that essential maintenancecontinues with any remedial measures completed. Premises that have Building Management Systems (BMS) with remote alerts should continue to be responded to. If possible, ensure gutters and drains are clear of debris, ahead of winter setting in.
• Dangerous Goods: If you have any dangerous goods on your premises, ensure they are kept secure in their usual storage place, and review the inventory levels, documentation etc.

It's not business as usual, ICA warns

30 March 2020

Claims, assessment and repair services are continuing but insurance customers should expect delays as the industry struggles under the dual weight of the COVID-19 pandemic and billions of dollars in claims from the summer catastrophes, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says.

Claims settlements and the sales and renewals of most products, along with most back-office functions, are ongoing, although overseas call centres have mostly been shut down by local authorities.

That means Australian staff are taking on this extra load, usually working from home, so call delays may be longer than normal.

“It is inevitable many customers will experience delays and interruptions,” ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller said.

“This is not business as usual. Far from it. COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on the operations of most businesses due to social distancing and shutdown rules.”

He says insurers are committed to helping their customers through the COVID-19 pandemic, but government measures aimed at stalling the spread of the disease are having a dramatic impact on the operations of many businesses, including insurance firms.

It comes at a time insurers and brokers are already under an “extraordinary burden” from more than 252,000 claims worth $4.6 billion following the summer natural disasters.

Mr Fuller says ICA has welcomed general insurance being classified an “essential service” during the COVID-19 crisis and is seeking further clarity from the federal, state and territory governments on essential services arrangements.

For example, ICA wants to know whether insurance workers are able to cross state borders without having to enter isolation.

Insurance is not listed as a restricted activity or business, so insurers can continue to provide services and support to Australians. Most insurance business operations and urgent services will remain available during shutdowns, even if restrictions on the community are toughened.

ICA says its members are seeking to help SME and household customers on an individual basis, especially those experiencing hardship.

Repair and rebuilding work on properties that have been damaged or destroyed over spring and summer is mostly continuing, although some builders are no longer available and supplies of some building and motor vehicle materials are scarce due to disruption in China.

If shutdown measures are ramped up, insurers still expect emergency building repairs to continue. Motor vehicle claims and repairs, and other assistance, should be maintained for vulnerable Australians and for those involved in delivering critical services during the pandemic, ICA says.

How you can help with the bushfire recovery process

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How you can help with the bushfire recovery process

Our hearts go out to all the communities that have suffered and continue to suffer from the bushfire crisis that has been going on since early September. In particular, we pause to think about the tragic loss of life and those who have lost property and businesses. They remain constantly in our prayers.

Whilst fires continue to burn in many areas, large parts of the communities are now starting their recovery phase and the federal government and various state governments have all promised significant funds to help the recovery process.

Aside from the mental health and anguish that these fires caused, the Property recovery process will be long and expensive. Whilst insurance losses are currently estimated in excess of $1 billion, we believe this will more than double over the next couple of months. In addition, there will be at least as much property damage that is uninsured that still needs to be rebuilt or repaired as well.

However money alone won’t help these communities. They need “boots on the ground” and this is where the clients of Action Insurance Brokers may be able to help. For any of you who are involved in building or construction, civil engineering, land clearing or any of the trades that work within these fields, you can register to offer to provide work in these bushfire affected areas.

The Insurance Council of Australia has a disaster recovery database for all trades who are interested in providing business services. This register is not necessarily for volunteers but is for businesses who can help with the rebuilding process and charge for their services. Follow the link below if you are interested in registering your business: -

https://disasters.org.au/trades-register

Governments, insurers and all relevant stakeholders have access to this database and can locate you and seek your assistance in the rebuilding process.

Action Insurance Brokers will continue to provide whatever support it can to affected parties and we support this initiative from the Insurance Council of Australia.