How to avoid Covid-related insurance claims

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What is EL insurance?

EL insurance covers the cost of compensating employees who are injured or become ill through work, including injury from diseases. This type of insurance is compulsory under the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory) Insurance Act 1969 apart from businesses who have no employees, family businesses where all employees are closely related to the business owner and most public organisations. Cover must be for a minimum of £5 million and a business can be fined £2,500 for every day it does not have the appropriate insurance in place.

What is PL insurance?

PL insurance covers businesses against claims made by third parties for incidents that occur in connection with their business activities, including personal injury. A “third party” is anyone outside of the business that it has contact with (the general public, visitors, customers etc.), and in the case of Covid claims may include family members of employees, or contractors. It therefore does not cover claims made by employees. This type of insurance is only compulsory for a very limited number of businesses, such as riding schools, but businesses who have regular contact with third parties should obtain it as standard.

What Covid-related claims can be made under EL and PL policies?

The most obvious type of claim is where a claimant alleges that Covid-19 was contracted whilst at work in the case of an EL claim, or whilst on the business premises, or at an event organised by the business in the case of a PL claim.

There is also the potential for other types of Covid-related EL claims for examples, for psychological or physical injury due to overwork, or due to working from home without proper equipment and/ or advice. Employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for employees working from home as they do for employees working from the office.

What would a claimant need to prove to be successful?

In short, a claimant would need to show that a business has breached a duty of care owed to them, and that the breach caused, or materially contributed to the injury alleged.

So, what practical steps can be taken to avoid such claims?

  • Comply with legislation, regulations and guidance given by authorities
  • Keep up-to-date with changes in the rules and safeguards against Covid-19
  • Keep documentation to evidence steps taken to reduce risks (such as risk assessments, health and safety minutes, working from home arrangements, etc.) and remember to regularly update these as legislation, regulations and guidance change, or your workforce changes e.g. an employee becomes pregnant
  • Remember that home workers need to be risk assessed
  • Train your employees to ensure that they understand what they need to do to be (and make the business) compliant
  • Provide PPE where necessary
  • Ensure you understand the terms in your insurance policy, especially any exclusions
  • If you do receive notice of a claim, notify your EL/ PL insurer immediately

If you have any questions about the cover provided under your EL or PL policies, please get in touch with Catrin Povey (c.povey@capitallaw.co.uk). If you would like any guidance on how to implement health and safety procedures, please drop a line to Mark Littlejohns (m.littlejohns@capitallaw.co.uk).