The novel coronavirus has certainly affected our lives, especially since it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. Social distancing measures may seem drastic, but they are helping reduce the impact of COVID-19. Though necessary, these procedures do affect our lives.
We’ll discuss how your insurance is affected by COVID-19 and provide resources to help you through this difficult time.
Our Service to You
We’re happy to announce that our office is now open by appointment for the following:
- Drop off or picking up documents
- Making payments
- Picking up pink cards
We ask clients to pre-order their pink cards and make an appointment to reduce wait time.
We’re taking safety precautions to protect you and our staff, including:
- Plexiglass installations
- Regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces
- Maintaining 2 metres (6 feet) of distance
- Wearing of masks in tighter spaces
Please contact our office if you’d like to make an appointment or have any questions. Our brokers are also happy to continue helping you over the phone or via email.
Insurance Premium Payments
Your options for paying your insurance premium payments will depend on your insurance company and bank. Here is a list of common methods of payment:
- Paying online directly through your insurer
- Paying through online banking through your financial institution
- You will need to add your insurance company as a “bill payee”
- Pay each policy separately
- Paying through telephone banking through your financial institution
- Call your broker and they may be able to accept payment over the phone
- This applies to credit cards only
- A cheque or money order
- Contact your broker to help you with this process as there are several steps you must follow
- We would prefer to not handle cheques at this time for the safety of our employees and clients. Please only use cheque as a last resort.
Some of our branches are open to accept cash and debit payments. However, please call ahead to check.
There may be other options available depending on your policy. Contact your broker for your individual payment options.
Insurance Premium Payment Deferrals
Many insurance companies were waiving NSF fees, allowing payment plan changes, offering payment deferrals and temporarily waiving cancellations or non-renewals for non-payment. However, insurers have mostly ended these programs. Please contact your broker if you requested a payment deferral or had a temporarily waived cancellation or non-renewal or have any issues meeting your payment obligations.
We recognize and empathize that many individuals and businesses are experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19 and it is our goal to work with you on a solution suitable for all parties.
Payment Plan Changes & Financing
To make payments easier, you may be able to change your payment plan. We can look at options directly from the insurance company or we can work with specialized premium finance companies. Finance programs are subject to interest or finance fees which vary depending on the amount financed. Payments can be structured over 9 – 12 months.
Delays with Insurance Companies Due to COVID-19
Insurance companies have largely transitioned to allow their staff to work from home. Your insurer is there to answer your call, however, there may be delays due to call volume. They’re doing their best to minimize delays.
You can always contact your broker with your questions or concerns.
Many insurance companies temporarily suspended or delayed the requirement for appraisals. These are gradually being relaxed and your insurer may be asking for this to be done.
You will be able to submit a claim online or by phone either directly to your insurer or with the help of your insurance broker.
Here is a list of our insurers and how to contact their claims service.
Insurance companies may offer:
- Virtual claims technologies
- Extending additional living expenses when necessary
- Extending loss of use coverage when necessary
- Support in-person when required with adjusters, vendors and more
Every insurance company is responding differently and your insurer may not offer all of the above.
Your Car Insurance
Your car insurance is unaffected by COVID-19 unless:
- You are no longer commuting.
- You are no longer driving your vehicle.
- You have taken a job as a paid delivery driver.
Please talk to your broker if any of the above apply to your situation.
You may be able to save money on your car insurance premiums by removing the commute from your policy or by “parking” your vehicle. Please remember that you will need to add your commute back to your policy when you resume driving to work and that parking your vehicle means you cannot drive it (even just to go get groceries).
If you have taken a job as a paid delivery driver or are in any way being paid to deliver something, you should talk to your broker. Technically, this changes the use of your vehicle from personal use to commercial use. Some insurance companies are allowing delivery work with personal vehicles at no additional charge given the extenuating circumstances. However, some insurers are not, so it is important to talk to your broker.
Insurance companies are beginning to return to normal, so it’s important to contact your broker if:
- You are continuing to use your vehicle for deliveries of any type.
- You are now commuting to work again.
- You are continuing to work from home and are not using your vehicle to commute.
- If there is any change in use to your vehicle.
As we return to work, you should contact your broker if you’ve started commuting again.
Your Home Insurance
If you are now temporarily working from home due to the COVID-19 crisis, you are covered under your home insurance and do not require additional coverage. However, if you are a business owner or work permanently from home, you should talk to your broker.
Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is one of the most affected by COVID-19. Coverage is determined by the Government of Canada’s travel advisories. If the country had a coronavirus travel advisory when you booked, you would not be covered for trip interruption, cancellation or travel medical related to COVID-19.
On March 13, 2020, the Canadian Government issued a travel advisory to avoid all non-essential travel globally. If you had already left your home province and travelled to a destination that did not have a coronavirus-related travel advisory, you would likely have coverage for COVID-19-related claims. However, if you left or booked after this date or travelled to a country with a coronavirus-related travel advisory, you would not have coverage for COVID-19. You may still have coverage for non-coronavirus claims.
Some travel insurance companies considered the coronavirus as a “known event” earlier than March 13, 2020. This means that the traveller is booking while aware of the risks and that coronavirus-related claims will not be covered. Allianz Global Assistance declared COVID-19 a known event on March 11, 2020 while TuGo Insurance and Manulife Insurance declared the virus a known event on March 4 and March 5, 2020, respectively.
If you have a trip booked for the future and decided not to go due to the coronavirus, you may be eligible for trip cancellation or a travel insurance refund, depending on where you were planning to go and when you booked your trip. As countries are constantly changing rules and requirements, you should check when you purchase travel insurance to see if you’re covered for anything covid-related.
If you have questions about your coverage, please contact your broker or travel insurance company.
COVID-19 Personal Insurance FAQs
Visit our COVID-19 personal insurance FAQ page here.
Your Business Insurance
With social distancing and quarantines, we understand that many businesses are struggling.
You may be wondering if there was a policy that you could have purchased to protect your business during a pandemic. Unfortunately, while some speciality insurers provide such a policy, they’re rarely marketed in politically stable countries.
Proof of No Insurance Coverage
If you are applying for Government subsidies or financial assistance with your business, it is possible you will be asked to submit proof that no insurance proceeds are available in order to qualify for government assistance. While we have not seen government communication requiring a claim’s denial, if and when necessary we can open and submit a claim to your insurer at any time during the claims prescription period.
We have also been advised by some clients that Landlords may be asking for proof that insurance will not cover COVID-19 losses. We will be able to help you provide this documentation.
Unfortunately, business interruption insurance will most likely not cover the COVID-19 pandemic. Most policies require an insured claim to trigger the coverage, such as a fire. As pandemics are not physical damage, they do not trigger business interruption coverage. You can learn more about this here.
Pandemic, infectious disease or outbreak of illness do not cause direct physical damage. Our team at A-WIN Insurance has been reviewing our client’s policy wordings to find a way to challenge for coverage consideration, but to date, we have not found anything that we believe can be used to trigger coverage.
In addition to Business Interruption coverage itself, extensions such as Contingent Business Interruption, Extra Expense, Rental Income and “Civil Authority” coverage can be obtained. The majority of these extensions also require there to be direct physical damage to the premises by an insured peril.
We have uncovered some exceptions within a couple of off-the-shelf insurance packages that might allow for a sub-limit of coverage up to $5,000 or $10,000 related only to extra expenses necessary to keep the business running. This small extension does not apply to loss of income. The extra expense is generally defined as the excess of the total costs of conducting your business, during the period required to repair or replace damaged property, over the total cost of conducting your business that would have been incurred had no loss occurred.
It is important to remember that you as a policyholder have up to 2 years to report a claim. We will continue to update you and announce any industry shifts related to coverage considerations as things continue to evolve.
The civil authority clause of your business insurance only gives you coverage if the civil authority direction is triggered by an insured claim, such as a wildfire or flood. Civil authority coverage will not cover business interruption for the coronavirus pandemic.
Vacant or Unoccupied Business Premises
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing state of emergency mandates, social distancing and self-isolation. As a result, many buildings are unoccupied or vacant. If your premises will be left vacant or unoccupied for longer than 30 days as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, please contact your broker. We will discuss this change with your insurance company and ensure coverage is not compromised.
The majority of insurance policies allow for 30 days of vacancy before your insurance company must be notified. Once notified, the insurance company will either provide approval that coverage remains as is or the policy must be revised to include what is commonly referred to as “Vacancy Permit.”
As a guide, we are using March 15th, 2020 as the date when many businesses began closing. It is important to note that insurance companies may take a different approach to one another. This means there are varying definitions and interpretations of the vacancy.
Please note that insurers are now returning to normal and may be tightening their definitions of vacant. Please contact your broker if your business has resumed operations or if the building remains vacant.
Business Insurance COVID-19 FAQs
Please visit our business insurance coronavirus frequently asked question page or contact your broker.
Builder’s Risk Insurance
Provincial and federal governments continue to revise “essential service” parameters which impact how construction projects are planned and managed. Depending on the specific policy contract in place, Course of Construction policies can differ for each insurer. This is particularly evident with the varying exclusions that many insurers have as it relates to a partial or complete cessation of work or interruption of construction.
It is important that you review your policy, particularly the cessation and notification clauses with your insurance professional. Work stoppages can be construed as a material change in risk, in which there is a duty to notify the insurer.
As for Delay of Start-up, this optional coverage, if purchased, is very similar to Business Interruption under a property policy. Like Business Interruption, it must be triggered by a physical loss or damage from an insured peril. In most cases, the shutdowns have not been due to a physical loss.
The Harvard Business Review has some great advice about communicating through this crisis.
Working from home can be a challenge – especially if the kids are home, too. Here are some resources to make it easier:
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. If you’re struggling with anxiety relating to COVID-19, please see these resources:
Finally, we recognize that this situation is difficult and fluid. A-WIN Insurance is here to help you through this as best we can. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Find your branch here.