COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

The situation with the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and we wanted to provide you with an updated overview of the changes we have implemented to keep business running as smoothly as possible.

The insurance industry is deemed an essential service along with mail and courier services, so we are here and fully operational.

We wanted to reach out and address some of the questions we have been receiving regarding our office and your insurance coverage.

What has changed at Hubbard Insurance?

We remain operational; all staff have secure, confidential, and full system/phone access from home offices.

Our physical office is closed and we will not be having face-to-face meetings. However, we are fully reachable via email and phones in the traditional way, as well as video conference as necessary.  

What is the impact on my insurance coverage if I have to close business locations?

Policy wordings do restrict coverages when locations are unoccupied or vacant. However, in the current situation this is an area where insurers are indicating they will show some flexibility as they completely understand the necessity of everyone needing to play a role and either work remotely or close their business completely.  

While this clause will only kick in typically over the 30 days mark, we think it is a wise risk management process to have someone check on your business location every 2-3 days just to make sure the heat is still on and everything is okay.

Government of Canada Announcements  

The Government of Canada announced an aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with COVID-19, including income supports, wage subsidies, and tax deferrals. The Emergency Care Benefit, of up to $900 bi-weekly and 15 weeks, provides income support for workers, including self-employed who have to stay home and do not qualify for employment insurance. There is also an Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion for workers not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.  

What if I can’t pay my monthly premium or miss a payment?

We are, as previously indicated, still waiting for formal written positions from each of the insurance companies; however, they are indicating:

·      They will NOT cancel policies for non-payment in the current environment

·      They will NOT charge NSF fee’s

·      They will offer some flexibility on monthly withdrawals should there need to be a delay in payment(s)

Why doesn’t Business Interruption coverage for my business respond due to COVID 19?

The current Covid-19 pandemic situation we are all faced with is not something that insurance polices are designed to cover.

Business interruption insurance is usually triggered only because of a peril covered under a commercial property policy as previously indicated. As such, we are expecting to see insurance carriers take the position that COVID-19 does not trigger coverage and generally speaking, that this is a largely uninsurable event.

We are however, taking the position that it is in our clients’ best interests – if they are not sure and this situation has had an impact on their business – to report a claim and let the insurance company come back with a formal decision on coverage.

Our feeling is that if the Government does offer support for businesses that have lost income, we imagine that it would require evidence that the insurance policy does not respond – before a businesses can access those funds. Therefore, in our view, having a formal written position from the insurance company could be a valuable tool.

To this end, we are advising business insurance clients to maintain records detailing any reduction in revenue and other costs.

What steps should we take in regard to our Group Benefits Coverage?

As you can probably expect, there have been many questions asked by employers regarding the impact to Benefit Plans resulting from Covid-19. Most common questions (so far) have been. 

·         What if my benefits are up for renewal now?

o   Every situation is different and insurers recognize the challenging times we are in. There may be delays with renewals getting to you. Premium payment deferments may be able to be arranged but again this is insurer dependent.  It is best to have a conversation with us in advance to better understand your situation before we approach insurer(s) on your behalf.

·         What if I have to lay off employees or reduce their hours? What happens to their benefits?

o   Insurers are stepping up here and allowing for continuation of benefits (Short Term Disability and Long Term Disability on a limited basis) for 90 days and this is subject to change depending on how long we are under this Covid-19 cloud. Again, it is best to have a conversation with us.

·         What if I have to reduce work hours for my employees?

o   Effective immediately and until May 31st, 2020 most insurers are waiving the ‘minimum hours’ required to be eligible for benefits.

·         Out-of-country trip limit increases

o   If an employee and/or family member is quarantined or unable to get back to Canada in a timely fashion, these exceptional cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with a view to providing further support.

·         Providing paramedical services virtually

o   Many providers have started offering services virtually (i.e. Dietitian, Naturopath, Physiotherapist, Psychologist, etc.) and most insurers are accepting these claims assuming they are part of your plan design and covered services.

Our office is participating at the provincial level on calls with brokers and insurers and as more information is available, we will reach out to you and will, as promised, continue to keep you up to date. This is, of course, still a very fluid situation.

In the interim, if you have questions, reach out and talk to us. We are here for you.

Useful Links

5 Tips For Working From Home

Essential Workplaces in Ontario

Canada’s Economic Response Plan

Again, we are available to connect with you by phone or email if you have questions or concerns.

We greatly value our relationship with you and maybe it is time that all of us take stock of what really matters, family & community. Let us look after each other, be good neighbours - stay healthy and take care!

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