What does Covid-19 mean for your liability insurance?

Covid-19 continues to change everyday life, with new restrictions and practices coming and going on almost a daily basis. Businesses have seen dramatic changes to their working practices and have had to adapt these rapidly to an unprecedented and unexpected situation.

With any dramatic change comes new challenges and unseen, unintended consequences, and the insurance world is no different. Liability insurers are already starting to predict what the consequences of these changes will be for injury claims.

The expectation is that the market will begin to see a shift in the areas where employees and third parties will make claims against businesses, many of these related to how businesses have been forced to adapt to the added pressures of keeping both workforce and public safe from Covid-19. Indeed, some insurers are already seeing increases in ‘ambulance chaser’ solicitors advertising services for Covid-19 related claims!


There are several key areas insurers have already identified:

  • Insurers expect there will be a rise in manual handling injuries arising from lone working or distancing rules, citing a lack of supervision or appropriate training for rapidly changing processes.
  • Home working claims may also rise as employers come to grips with a new way of working, as employees may look to claim for injuries in the home while on work time or face musculoskeletal injuries from inadequate workspaces and set ups.
  • Respiratory illnesses will undoubtedly increase from workforce and public alike, not just from the immediate consequences of Covid-19 diagnosis, but also the latent long-term effects which continue to become apparent
  • Psychological injuries, in particular occupational stress and mental health, are likely to rise especially as awareness towards mental health issues increases, as employers struggle to see the signs of stress remotely and employees may be worried about coming forward with issues surrounding their workloads for fears of job loss
  • Third Party claims from the public, especially in relation to known property defects or perceived lack of Covid-19 protections, are also expected to rise as the economy continues to struggle, with a reduction in jobs and income making people more willing to claim where they may not have done so before, especially if solicitors advertising for Covid-19 related claims becomes the norm

What can be done to help mitigate these claims?

  • Update current risk assessments to accommodate new working practices and ensure personal protective equipment and now working practice training is given and recorded as appropriate
  • Ensure your accident books are filled out fully and kept up to date and obtain any witness details you can where reasonable and possible
  • Keep relevant documentation to show you have been keeping up to date with Covid-19 guidance and implemented changes and protections as required
  • Ensure risk assessments are undertaken for those now working from home, to make sure their working environment is as comfortable as possible and that employees have the correct equipment to work safely and effectively
  • Retain frequent contact with employees – video calls, while potentially unpopular, may mean it is easier to read body language and see the signs of stress
  • Regularly inspect your property and Covid-19 protections, log any defects, and ensure maintenance or any required action is undertaken in as timely a manner as possible.

If you would like to talk to ProAktive about your commercial insurance requirements, you can contact us on 01302 341 344 or 0114 243 9914. 

By Sam Harby Dip CIICommercial Account Handler

Covid-19 Update 23.09.2020

Yesterday the Government once again introduced new measures to tackle the rise in Coronavirus cases.

During his address the Prime Minster was keen to make it clear that this was not a general instruction to stay at home and that we are not returning to a full a full lock down, like the one in March. The new measures will, however, have an impact on how businesses trade and the way in which employees work.

So, what has changed?

  • Office workers who can work from home should do so.
    • In all professions where homeworking is not possible, such as construction or retail – people should continue to attend their workplaces.
  • From Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways.
  • All hospitality venues must close at 10pm. This means closing and not just calling for last orders. The same will apply to takeaways – though deliveries can continue thereafter.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings is extended to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
  • In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, the Government’s Covid-19 secure guidelines will become legal obligations. Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach these rules.
  • From Monday 28th September, a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions with up to 30 people being able to attend a funeral.
  • The rule of six is extended to all adult indoor team sports.
  • The reopening of business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events will not go ahead as planned from 1 October.
  • The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.

What remains the same?

  • Schools, colleges and universities will stay open.
  • Businesses can stay open in a Covid-19 compliant way.
  • The rule of six remains in place.
  • The Government will continue to act against local flare-ups, working alongside councils and strengthening measures where necessary.
  • Those who were previously advised to shield do not need to return to shielding – except in local lockdown areas – and this will be kept under constant review.

The Government has advised that unless anything changes, we should assume that the restrictions announced are likely to remain in place for the next six months.

These updates may result in the need for you to review working practices and require changes to current Coronavirus Risk Assessments. Equally employees will no doubt have questions about what this means for the way they work. Businesses should consider if employees who have previously worked from home should now return to this or if there are roles in business where working from home is possible. Communicating with staff about the action the business is taking in response to the new measure may help to alleviate concerns employees have.

If you need support on the impact any of these changes may have to your business we will be happy to help. Call 01302 341 344. 

By Louise Turner Dip Mgmt (Open) Assoc CIPDHR Business Partner

and Rachel Cuff CMIOSH Risk Consultant 

When should employees self-isolate and/or get tested for Covid-19?

As cases of Coronavirus are increasing it is important to understand when employees should self-isolate and when they need to get tested.

When to self-isolate

You must self-isolate immediately if:

  • you have any symptoms of Coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • you’ve tested positive for Coronavirus
  • you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
  • you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk

When to get a test

Get a test as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of Coronavirus.

The test needs to be done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

How long to self-isolate

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for Coronavirus, you’ll usually need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

You’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days if:

  • someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

If you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

Stay at home for 14 days

If you’re told to self-isolate because you’ve been in contact with a person who has Coronavirus:

  • self-isolate for 14 days from the day you were last in contact with the person – as it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear

If you get symptoms of Coronavirus

If you get any symptoms of Coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) while you’re self-isolating:

  • get a test to check if you have Coronavirus as soon as possible
  • If you test negative keep self-isolating for the rest of the 14 days from when you were last in contact with the person who has Coronavirus
  • If you test positive self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started – even if it means you’re self-isolating for longer than 14 days

If you do not get symptoms of Coronavirus

If you do not get any symptoms of Coronavirus while self-isolating:

  • you can stop self-isolating after 14 days
  • you do not need to have a test

Please visit the links below if you’re not sure whether to self-isolate or get a test:



Making Your Office Covid Secure

With schools and Parliament having returned following the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has also been pushing for office staff to return to work. Surveys suggest that only 34% of office workers have gone back to work in Britain compared to 68% elsewhere in Europe.

It is understandable that there is a reluctance to get office staff back into the workplace. There are risks involved in returning and most companies have harnessed the power of technology to successfully allow employees to work from home in a way that hasn’t affected business. However, there are benefits to bringing employees back, the most important of these being the mental health of your staff.

Some surveys have suggested that up to 80% of people working from home feel that it has negatively impacted their mental health. Bringing people back to work safely will allow them to get back a bit of the ‘normal’ that they have missed. Things like routine, being able to take a break from their computers and socially distanced interaction with colleagues can really boost a person’s mental health.


So how do we do it safely?

The Government has released guidance for all workplaces with advice on how to make your workplace Covid secure and keep everyone safe.

The main things to consider are:

Environmental changes

  • Enhanced cleaning regimes
  • Increased airflow
  • Signage and stickers reminding people of the importance of hand hygiene and maintaining a social distance
  • Screens to create physical barriers between people
  • Having people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face
  • Managing occupancy levels


Behavioural changes

  • Respecting and understanding social distancing and other measures in place through good communication and training
  • Following one-way systems
  • Adhering to clear desk policies to ensure workstations can be cleaned

Having discussions with your employees and ensuring good communication about their return to work will help everyone to feel involved and secure in the knowledge that on their return they will be safe.

A flexible approach is the best option as it is likely that a combination of office and home working is here to stay for most office premises. Embracing the new normal is a learning curve for us all!

If you need any help making your office Covid secure, please call ProAktive.

By Rachel Cuff CMIOSHRisk Consultant


What to do if redundancies are a possibility

As managers and business owners we never want to find ourselves in a position where we have to place staff at risk of redundancy, however it is clear that as a result of the global economic crisis caused by Covid-19, this may be the position businesses find themselves in over the coming months and indeed into next year.

Going through a redundancy process is stressful for all involved and comes with some employment risks and therefore it is important that businesses take advice on the process and also consider how they can support staff through this difficult time.

Staff under notice of redundancy

One way to support staff is by helping them find alternative employment or allowing them to attend training which may help them find alternative employment.

You must allow staff a reasonable amount of paid time off to look for another job or to do training if:

  • you’re making them redundant
  • they’ve worked for 2 full years (including the notice period)


You do not have to pay more than 40% of a week’s pay, no matter how much time off you allow.

You can also signpost employees to organisations which may be able to offer them support. Jobcentre Plus for example offers a ‘Rapid Response Service’ to help people get straight back into work and can also help employees write or update CVs.

But supporting staff doesn’t just stop with those who are under notice of redundancy. We also need to consider others within the business.


Managers who deliver the news and lead the consultation

Throughout the redundancy process employees within the business will have questions and therefore it is important that the manager or supervisor leading the redundancy process:

  • understands the detail of the organisation’s plans
  • knows why redundancies are being made
  • is trained or understands the redundancy process
  • has the capacity to carry out of the required meetings

The manager’s handling of a redundancy process can act to reassure staff that the redundancy is being dealt with fairly and that all reasonable alternatives to redundancy are being considered.


Staff that are remaining within the business

The impact on employees within the business who have watched friends and colleagues go through a redundancy process or who have been part of the selection process for redundancy can often be overlooked. Employees can be left feeling insecure about their role and wondering if they are likely to be affected in the future.

You can help with this process by ensuring that all employees understand the business reason for considering redundancies and know who they can speak to if they have any questions or ideas on how the business can avoid redundancies.

Like any change process which takes place within a business, it can be stressful for all concerned but keeping clear accessible lines of communication open for all can alleviate some of the worries.

If you would like our advice and assistance, please contact us on either 01302 341 344 or email me – louiseturner@proaktive.co.uk

Mental Health First Aid Awareness Course


4-hour online course via Zoom (with a 1-hour break between 2-hour tutor led sessions). Spaces limited to 14 delegates.

Supporting your employee’s awareness of mental health, covering:

– Raising awareness and mental health literacy
– Brief overview of some of the major health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and suicide
– An understanding of the factors that affect mental health
– Identify the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues
– Increasing knowledge and confidence to start mental health conversations
– Understanding the importance of looking after you own mental health


Cost: £140+VAT
Venue: Virtual, via Zoom
Date: 5th Nov 2020

If you are interested in attending the above training session please confirm your interest to Kris Kerins on either 01302 341344 or kriskerins@proaktive.co.uk

Face masks in secondary schools

The Department for Education has revised its guidance for the wearing of face masks in secondary schools only. Previously the guidance for all schools was that face masks were not recommended in a school setting. The new guidance is that headteachers have the flexibility to require that masks should now be worn by all pupils (Year 7 and above) in communal areas, when moving about the school, where it is unlikely that social distancing can be enforced.

We would comment as follows:

  1. The guidance only applies to secondary schools. Primary schools are not included in this update and the advice for those schools remains unchanged.
  2. The government is not enforcing the mandatory wearing of face masks. The guidance is designed to allow headteachers to make a decision in respect of their individual settings as and when required.
  3. If you do wish to implement the wearing of face masks, then we would recommend that you do so in the following areas:

– Inside buildings when moving between classrooms and particularly if corridors are likely to be crowded.

– Within dining halls, except when sat at a table to eat. This would mirror the guidance given to the wearing of face masks within cafes etc.

This might allow you to control pinch points within your school where crowding cannot be avoided.

  1. The use of face masks within classrooms is not recommended, however you may wish to allow this selectively if it would serve to encourage staff or pupils to feel safe within the school setting. We would recommend that this be the exception rather than the rule, however.
  2. There will be persons for whom the wearing of face masks is not appropriate. These persons should not be included in any plans to wear face masks.
  3. Where schools are located within areas where local restrictions are in force (these are listed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-restrictions-areas-with-an-outbreak-of-coronavirus-covid-19) the wearing of masks will be required in communal spaces when moving around the school, and the discretion of the headteacher will be removed. Again, those persons for whom the wearing of masks is inappropriate should be excluded from this requirement.


We appreciate that the new update will provide confusion and concern for you, your staff, pupils and parents. If you wish to discuss your individual circumstance please do not hesitate to contact us.

Lockdown – the next steps

When we entered the first stages of lockdown, we were advised to abandon our workplaces and if possible work from home. This resulted in the majority of commercial properties and contract sites being unoccupied with no clear indication as to when they might re-open.

Insurers reacted by providing guidance on the measures necessary to protect and secure premises. For the most part, insurers waived the usual policy clauses that would have resulted in restrictions in policy cover as a result of unoccupancy. Whilst temporary, these waivers were extended through to 5th August, however, from this point on, normal policy terms and conditions apply.

We recognise that not all restrictions on businesses have been lifted and some businesses could be required by law to remain closed as a result of localised lockdowns.

Please contact us if:

  • You have had to temporarily close your business or site due to localised lockdown, or indeed any government regulations, for a period that is in excess of 30 days.
  • You have not already advised us if of changes you have made to your business or sites during lockdown period.
  • You have unfortunately had to cease trading.
  • You are a property owner and your tenants are no longer trading and/or it is known they will not return to the premises.


The temporary closure of buildings in an effort to contain coronavirus has unwittingly created conditions that enable another potentially lethal pathogen, in this case, a bacterium to thrive. This threat is legionella pneumophila, a common pathogen in many environments that flourishes in water pipes and cooling towers.

Legionnaires disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. It is usually transmitted by breathing-in mist or droplets from water containing the bacteria. The mist may come from hot tubs, showers, or air-conditioning units for large buildings.

What you need to do

Companies have an obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees, customers and suppliers. With Legionnaires disease, that means taking reasonable precautions to ensure that the water in a facility, wherever it appears, does not contain harmful levels of Legionella.

Employers should carry out a full risk assessment of their hot and cold water systems and ensure adequate measures are in place to control the risks.

The primary method used to control the risk from Legionella is water temperature control.

Water services should be operated at temperatures that prevent Legionella growth:


  • Hot water storage cylinders (calorifiers) should store water at 60°C or higher
  • Hot water should be distributed at 50°C or higher (thermostatic mixer valves need to be fitted as close as possible to outlets, where a scald risk is identified).
  • Cold water should be stored and distributed below 20°C.


A competent person should routinely check, inspect and clean the system, in accordance with the risk assessment.

Stagnant water aids Legionella growth. Where buildings were not entirely closed down during the lockdown, it may be safe to open if:

  • the water system was flushed out at least every three days
  • the water temperatures at the taps have been checked and reach at least 55°C (131°F)
  • microbiological tests performed during the lockdown showed no significant change in the total number of bacteria.


For buildings that were idle for at least seven days, and especially those where the water pipes and relevant water-reliant systems were turned off for more than a month, the water needs to be tested, and, as necessary, flushed and disinfected.


Note that all these provisions, testing, flushing, disinfecting, also apply to cooling towers, air conditioning systems and any other machinery or equipment with water reservoirs.

All things considered, preventing an outbreak of Legionnaires disease is far easier and less expensive for businesses to undertake than preventing the spread of coronavirus. Testing for Legionella and, if necessary, flushing out or disinfecting building water should be a fundamental part of all plans for resuming operations.

By Samantha Geddes Cert CII Commercial Account Handler



Reopening of Soft Play

Keeping Customers Safe


The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You need to assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.

Indoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (including support bubbles) while outdoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households. It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 30 people, except for the limited circumstances as set out in law. You need to prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place.

To ensure the safety of your customers you should:

  • Calculate the maximum number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines at the venue. Upon opening, operate at reduced capacity with extended cleaning periods between each session. This should be kept under review.
  • Tables should be spaced to allow for social distancing.
  • Reduce the need for customers to queue, but where this is unavoidable, discourage customers from queueing indoors and using outside spaces for queueing where available and safe. A safe space for queueing will be highlighted.
  • Provide clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids and before arrival, such as by phone, on the website or by email.
  • Manage the entry of customers, and the number of customers at a venue, so that all indoor customers are seated with appropriate distancing. Managing entry numbers can be done through online booking.
  • Manage outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals and protecting queues from traffic by putting up barriers.
  • Make customers aware of, and encourage compliance with, limits on gatherings at booking. Indoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), while outdoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households.
  • Encourage customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the venue.
  • Remind customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Look at how people move through the venue and how this can be adjusted to reduce congestion and contact between customers. Introduce a one way system where possible.
  • Reduce the volume level of the music played in the venue so that conversation is not difficult, and customers do not need to shout.
  • Encourage card payments, contactless preferred.
  • Identify workers as designated supervisors for each area to ensure social distancing measures are being adhered to by customers.
  • Have clearly designated positions from which employees supervising can provide advice or assistance to customers whilst maintaining social distance.
  • Allowing a sufficient break time between sessions in order to appropriately clean the premises and equipment and to prevent waiting in groups.
  • Use signage such as ground markings to mark out required social distance to allow controlled flows of people.
  • Suspend all children’s parties and group bookings.
  • Permit only one parent/carer per child to supervise their child while following social distancing.
  • Provide safety information to customers online at the time of booking to prevent the need for large numbers of people to congregate to receive this before each session.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are mandatory for visitors when they are inside the venue, children under 11 may be exempt with valid reasoning.

Adults and children over the age of 11 must wear a face covering when entering the venue and throughout their stay.

Face coverings may be removed when eating and drinking at their table, however groups should not mix tables during their stay.

Staff are not required to frequently check visitors for exemptions when not wearing a face covering but should reasonably ask them to abide by the law.

Face coverings do not need to be worn when entering or while inside the play structure.


Soft Play


Cleaning of Soft Play Areas and frames

  • High contact surfaces should be cleaned between booked sessions. Particular attention will be paid to areas such as slides, monkey bars, enclosed crawl through ‘tunnels’ or tube slides and handholds.
  • Separate sensory rooms must remain closed.
  • Ball pits must be closed or physically removed from frames before opening.
  • Roleplay props must also be considered as single-use items and a suitable system must be in place for the handling, cleaning and sanitisation of props to facilitate this. Role play rooms must be cleaned in line with other indoor area frequencies. Role play areas must be restricted to one booked group, to reduce the risk of items being shared between different groups of children.
  • Difficult to clean items must be removed making it easier to clean the soft play area. For example, this would cover items such as soft punch bags, plastic balls and other easily removable items.
  • Any loose soft play items will either be removed or identified in a way that allows them to be included in the enhanced cleaning schedule. The risk of unidentified and mobile items is that they are missed or not included in an enhanced cleaning schedule. Identifying marks should be used, alongside a check sheet to record that each item has been cleaned. Pay particular attention to the withdrawal of unnecessary play items that children will put in their mouths or around their faces which are a high transmission hazard.


Soft Play Frame Operations


  • Before anyone is permitted to enter the soft play frame they should apply hand sanitiser at the point of entry to the play area. These sanitisation points should be adjacent to each separate play area (not just at the entrance to the building), supervised and the application of sanitiser made mandatory.
  • A written zero-tolerance policy dealing with non-compliance should be in place. Staff should be trained in the handling of non-compliant persons.
  • Where customers are required to queue, clear social distancing floor markings to stop clumping should be in place.
  • The capacity of the soft play frame should be calculated to allow for the current guidance on social distancing – this will allow households to socially distance. On the basis of normal play frame capacity calculations which is based on active floor area, capacity/occupancy should be reduced to maximum 40%, based on the total number of users including parents or guardian supervising. This should be monitored when in use as part of the ongoing risk assessment process, to ensure that capacities deliver social distance requirements.
  • Capacity management and social distancing should be controlled by:
  • Separate entrance and exit points, which will be staffed, to monitor/regulate numbers to no more than the maximum persons allowed to enter the play structure at any one time, with staff using tally counters to help monitor this.
  • Control via groups i.e. coloured wrist bands, all-in all-out systems.
  • Signage displayed at the entrance to the frame;
  • Encouraging parents to accompany children through the frame;
  • The natural one-way flow already built into structures (i.e. hard to climb slides);
  • Total centre capacity will not exceed the total number of persons allowed within the soft play frame.


The capacity for smaller play areas should be calculated as above. Where there isn’t sufficient space to facilitate social distancing only one household per area will be permitted at any one time.


To aid social distancing and avoid pinch points the following examples may be used:

  • Direction arrows or minor alterations to establish a flow system. For example log ramps to be up only and deck climbs and slides to be down only. Floor pads are typically 1.2m square so additional signage can be erected to remind customers to remain two square floor pads apart from others while playing in the structure unless they are from one family group or bubble.
  • Risk assessments of pinch points within the frame. Control measures such as temporary closure of confined spaces or areas that encourage users to congregate may be necessary.
  • Staggered start times for people entering the play frame.


If you would like any further advice, please call our Health & Safety Team on 01302 341 344. 

How can good risk management help your insurance premiums?

You may have heard in the business news that the insurance market is hardening. This means that premiums can increase, cover can be restricted and insurers are less inclined to take on new clients; essentially it can become  difficult for a business to keep their costs down for those essential insurance covers and unfortunately shopping around for competitive alternative quotes rarely delivers results , so how can premiums be managed – well, Risk Management can play a key role.

We understand that every business needs to manage their bottom line and insurance can be a large expense which is likely to grow over the next year or so. It is therefore important to understand how you can gain the best possible rates and cover from your insurer.

To understand where risk management fits in, it’s worth considering some of the factors that contribute towards insurance premiums. The insurer takes into consideration the inherent risk the business presents together with physical hazards and the amount of risk exposure i.e the likely cost of claims. They then add in their own expenses and this, produces a premium. The underwriting features behind this are much more complex but the insurer is aiming to charge a premium that covers all these elements and delivers a profit. The more that a business claims from an insurer, the tighter their profit margin becomes and so they look to increase the future premium hence the saying ‘those who claim less pay less’.


As we enter a hard market you have little control over the increase in the base rates insurers charge they will also increasingly become more selective as they look to choose the businesses who can deliver the best profit margins. This means it is vital that your business does everything it can to reduce the risk of having a claim, hence improving your risk management. The better the presentation to insurers as to how well you are managing your risk, the better the terms or premiums you will have, even if in these tough times, it is still an increase on previous years.

The nature of your business will determine where you should focus time and possibly money to improve your risk profile. For example, for business in perceived high risk environments such as manufacturing and construction, it is vital that the focus is on  employee safety, whether this is training or better PPE and of course it is essential that your insurers are aware of the investment that has been made.

Whatever your industry, good risk management will be an important element of your business and that can have a positive impact on your insurance costs. For more information on how we can help with Risk Management, please contact Rachel Storey on 07823 880202.