Worldwide Products Risks

With the impending Brexit date (29th March 2019) nearly upon us, one consequence could be that companies become less likely to trade in Europe and more likely to look further afield.  One option could be to source products from China and the Far East.  When products are bought in bulk from China for wholesale or retail in the UK it is imperative that your insurer knows what type of product is being imported and in what quantity.

When goods manufactured in Europe are imported, it is usually the case that a clear chain can be followed back to the manufacturer so that, should issues arise with a product, the liability can be passed back up the chain.  When goods come from China this could prove to be more difficult; it can be problematic to identify the original manufacturer of the product, & even if the supplier is identified, Chinese manufacturers rarely purchase products liability insurance. The legal framework in China also makes it more difficult for your insurers to pursue a recovery should a claim occur.  In this instance your insurers will take the view that you are effectively the manufacturer of the product and charge a higher premium to reflect their lack of recovery potential.

The Insurance Act 2015 now means that a policyholder has a duty to provide a “fair presentation of the risk” to insurers.  Therefore, when discussing your risk with a broker you should always provide as much information as possible regarding which products are imported, where they are imported from and how much of your turnover relates to each product.  Only then can insurers assess the risk fully and charge the appropriate premium.   If a claim occurs & an insurer feels that they have not been given the full information about the origin of the products, to the extent that they might not have taken on the risk in the first place, the insurer could avoid the insurance contract or refuse to pay a claim.

So, should you think about importing any products from the Far East please pick up the phone and talk to your broker about how to best protect yourself.

By Peter RyderAccount Executive

 

Is your business Brexit ready?

Currently the UK is bracing itself for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit on 29th March 2019, and we realise this may affect every business in the country in very different ways & to many varying degrees.

In fact it could have already affected you, as many businesses have experienced changes to the labour market and the fluctuating rate of the pound for many months. This in turn could have had a knock- on effect as the cost and availability of your supplies and goods may have changed. 

The uncertainty surrounding border controls are in the press constantly and again this may have an impact on your supply chain directly or indirectly.

With this in mind ProAktive is talking to businesses to ensure their insurance programmes are ‘Brexit ready’, specifically discussing your business interruption cover to ensure your indemnity period is sufficient to enable your business to run as effectively as possible following a loss. If your key supplier is outside the UK post 29th March 2019 how long will it take your business to be up and running to the same level as it was prior to your loss?

With all this uncertainty it would be easy to be concerned over the path we will be going down over the next few months.  But be assured that the UK insurance market will remain, post Brexit,  a world leading, global centre of expertise that provides vital cover and investment and that ProAktive is here to assist you in your own Brexit plans.

If you’d like to speak to ProAktive about your insurances please call our office on 01302 341344 or 0114 243 9914.  

By Laura Scott FCIIChartered Insurance Broker & Commercial Account Handler

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Campaigns

The HSE periodically undertake campaigns for various topics. A recent campaign was to look into occupational ill health issues, particularly those caused by silica dust.

Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite and many other minerals, Quartz being the most common form of crystalline silica.

Regularly breathing construction dust can cause diseases like Lung Cancer, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Silicosis. Construction workers have a high risk of developing these diseases due to many common construction tasks creating high dust levels.

Workplace exposure limits (WEL) for Silica (respirable crystalline from construction products) are given at 0.1mg/m3 which is much lower than hard or softwood (5mg/m3 ). 

This might not mean much, but essentially what it means is that you have a duty to protect your employees from even the smallest amounts of Silica. It is unlikely that you will have a process that generates silica at levels below the WEL, so controls will be necessary at all times.

The sort of tasks/processes where this exposure could arise could be :

  • Stripping out buildings
  • Demolition of structures
  • Moving old objects to skips
  • Housekeeping (sweeping up)
  • Cutting materials (wood dust / silica from concrete products)
  • Cabling in roof spaces
  • Stripping off tiles from roofs

Adequate controls must be in place to prevent ill health to personnel.

Your task, or dynamic risk assessment, will define the controls needed for the activity and will be combined with preventing dust causing issue with the individual and others working in the vacinity.

As a recent example, one of our clients had employed a Sub-contractor on a construction site. The Sub-contractor wasn’t actually doing any work which generated silica dust at the time of the visit. They had, however, been sawing through some materials. On closer inspection, it was apparent that:

  • the Sub-contractor’s controls included damping down with water, however this hadn’t been done
  • PPE / RPE was available but there was no face fit record to show that the mask fitted the user
  • the employee was not clean shaven, which meant that the RPE / PPE in use would not have been effective

The Inspector commented that the site was well run but the Principal Contractor (PC) is in charge of the sub-contractors, as well as their own Employees; they should make sure they are following their high standards.

No Fee for Intervention (FFI) or Improvement Notice was issued but the Inspector said, “If I had witnessed them dry cutting I would have issued a Prohibition Notice to the Principal Contractor for not managing the site properly and the Sub-contractor for exposing the Employee to hazardous substances.”

The Site Management has a hard job, running the site, controlling costs and time, but must keep health and safety a top priority and ensure a high standard at all times to keep all on the site safe.

If you would like help managing the health and safety at your workplace, please contact our team for a chat on 01302 341 344.

By Richard Wadkin CMIOSHRisk Consultant

New Year’s Resolution – Let’s promote better mental well being at work

With Blue Monday* (the so-called ‘most depressing day of the year’) coming up on 21st January, what can we do to promote better mental health in the workplace?

According to Mental Health Charity MIND, these 5 steps may help with general mental wellbeing: 

Connect: Social relationships are critical as a buffer against mental ill health. Encourage your employees to ‘talk, ask & listen’ to colleagues

Be Active: physical activity = lower rates of depression. Suggest staff take a lunchtime break, get out in the fresh air and take a short walk or other exercise

Take Notice: Being aware and ‘in the moment’ is good for us. Enjoy your surroundings, de-clutter, savour that coffee, try somewhere new for lunch

Learn: The opportunity to engage in learning activities can lift people out of depression.

Give: People who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Acts of kindness can lead to an increase in wellbeing. Get staff involved in fundraising or a charity event and lift morale

Take it from us as HR consultants, it’s much easier to promote mental well-being in the workplace than to deal with what can be challenging consequences of poor mental health, including increased absence rates, declining performance and high staff turnover.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of HR management with us, please contact our team on 01302 341 344.

By Angela Stancer Group HR Manager

*Blue Monday was actually a concept dreamt up in 2005 by Sky Travel (with an equation claiming to factor in weather, debt level, time since Christmas, failing new year resolutions & low motivation) to encourage us to book a holiday!

Why was the HR Director so unpopular at Christmas?

…because he gave Santa the sack!

It has been a tough year for those in the world of employment and therefore as it’s coming up to Christmas we thought we’d share a couple of the stranger and sometimes controversial employment laws being implemented around the world just to lighten the mood a little.

We’ll be starting with a policy which is suggested to be the next ‘big thing’ for British Employers to consider. We are of course talking about Menopause Policies.

We aren’t pulling your leg as recent cases have seen women, who have experienced serious symptoms from the Menopause; winning disability discrimination claims (Davies vs. Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service).  There is now serious talk of introducing Menopause policies for companies when there is a male dominated environment. These policies would tackle allowing for changes in temperature and alternative working arrangements to allow for forgetfulness or loss of concentration.

Moving across to the land of the rising sun where in 2008 Japan passed the ‘Metabo Law’ as a solution to the epidemic of obesity. Through this act, Employers have to annually measure the waists of workers between the ages of 40 and 75 and they are allowed to measure Employees they suspect of having too large of a waistline. For men anything more than 33.5 inches is considered a breach and for women it’s 35.4 inches. Companies need to maintain 65% Employee compliance with these measurements or else face fines and the company’s health insurers are obliged to run weight loss classes to Employees that have exceeded this threshold.

Japan’s neighbours, China, have taken a different approach to equality as women are prohibited from engaging in any work that the government deems ‘physically demanding’ and this includes mining, logging, any work at high altitude and jobs that require lifting more than 44 pounds.

An interesting law in India means that Employers cannot fire Employees without the government’s permission when they have more than 100 Employees. There is an exception where the Employee is found guilty of criminal misconduct however we’re sure many UK Employers are grateful that this is a regulation that they don’t have to follow.

Finally to end one of the favourite strange employment practices that we came across, we need to head to New Zealand.  Apparently New Zealand Employers faced a ‘funny hat’ epidemic so much so, that employment law was introduced which allows for Employers to enforce a 10% pay cut if an Employee wears a hat to work that results in them breaking the companies dress and uniform code. So no elf hats at Christmas for New Zealand Employees!

Although these may seem odd to those of us in the UK, all of the above (with the exception of the Menopause policy) have been integrated into normal employment practice and even to this day we find strange legacy employment policies when conducting document reviews for our new clients.

If you would like to make sure that there aren’t any legacy or outdated policies in your HR pack contact us on 01302 346 825 and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from ProAktive’s HR Consultancy Team.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt)Risk Services Adviser

O2 or NO2?

Following last week’s downtime from O2 of 24 hours, which to most of us felt like a lifetime, it has given us a prompt to remind our clients of how important Cyber Insurance can be, in particular for mobile phones.

It is scary to think how much we rely on our smart phones for lots of different things. Where originally mobile phones were for the use of making and receiving calls, how many of us rely on this for other everyday tasks? Calendars/diaries, social media, banking, maps, credit reports, shopping, even rail tickets?

As we know, O2 are suggesting compensation for the downtime and it has even been mentioned that we can claim for additional expenses through the loss of apps. An example of this is being unable to use the railcard app, meaning tickets were purchased at an inflated rate. Not an obvious one, but nonetheless, something that can cost your business additional money. A cyber policy wouldn’t have covered last weeks’ events, as the loss of service was due to a technical fault rather than a cyber attack. Therefore the cost of compensation will be entirely down to O2 to pay.

The downtime a lot of us experienced has highlighted to us the question of how we cope as a business if we can’t access our phones.

When looking at the risks of a cyber attack in your business, generally speaking our biggest vulnerability is our people. Not intentionally, but in simple things that most of us do daily that we probably don’t even think about. Using free Wi-Fi that doesn’t have proper encryption is a huge trigger, suspect attachments on emails etc.

Many people don’t consider their smart phones, or other mobile devices, as computers and therefore don’t tend to worry much about protecting them. The reality is that smart phones can be compromised relatively easily, especially since we now use them for so much more than just calls. Our phones contain so much personal sensitive data and company/client data that most of our information is ready for criminals to steal.

If our smart phones or other mobile devices are compromised by a cyber attack, a cyber policy would be there to assist with the many problems that you could face, including rebuilding of servers, fines for breach of loss of data, costs to recover the data and costs associated with loss of earnings. Cyber attacks are the new burglary and can happen to us irrespective of the size of our company. So in the aftermath of the O2 network issues, let’s think about the impact a cyber attack can have on the use of our company phones.

To discuss cyber cover in more details please do not hesitate to contact us.

By Leah KendallAccount Executive 

 

 

Liquidations and Non-disclosure – why does the past matter?

First, a little definition – an insurance contract is based on the principle of ‘utmost good faith’ – that is, a person seeking insurance must disclose any information that would constitute a ‘material fact’ or  anything that would affect an insurer’s view of the hazard you pose in offering you cover. This can be both physical hazards (such as the construction of the building) but also moral hazards such as criminal convictions.

Non-disclosure of a material fact can lead an insurer to reduce or reject a claim payment, or even cancelling insurance overall.

One of the most common reasons we find insurers reject claims is through non-disclosure of previously liquidated companies or County Court Judgements (CCJs). This falls into the moral hazard category and is often overlooked when insurance is being arranged, as the impact of these aren’t directly obvious.

We have been asked before about why this matters – why should you be penalised for the mistakes of the past? Simply put, an insurance contract is a promise for you to pay your annual premiums in return for insurers to pay your claims. A previous liquidation or CCJ suggests you are a higher moral risk to insurers, and insurers prefer to take the moral high ground – without further information insurers will automatically assume the worst and believe you might renege on your side of the contract.

There are many legitimate reasons why a company may be liquidated, from changing market conditions and consumer demands (such as many high street chains have struggled with over the past few years), to bad debt from their own customers (see Carillion), to even companies never having traded and being closed off. The vast majority of liquidations can be readily explained, and insurers are more than happy to offer cover with a quick explanation of the past.

If you have had any liquidations or CCJs you must let your insurer or broker know to ensure insurers are aware of all the facts. ProAktive have excellent relationships with insurers and will be able to help.

By Sam Harby Dip CIICommercial Account Handler

5 Health & Safety Christmas Myths

Christmas is an interesting time for businesses. There are lots of temporary changes to work patterns, lots of parties (hopefully!) and most important of all, it’s the time of the year to dust off the decorations and make your office suitably festive. None of these things form part of your usual work activities and so you’ve probably not really thought of these things from a H&S perspective. Happily, a few years ago, the HSE published their “Twelve Myths of Christmas” and so we thought it would be a good time to revisit just a couple of the more relevant points that they raised.

(The full list is here http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/xmasmyths.htm)

1. Workers are banned from putting up Christmas decorations in the office

We’ve heard this one a lot over the years. Workers are definitely not banned from putting up decorations; however as a responsible Employer it just means that you’ve got to be practical about how you do this. Essentially this means using the correct access equipment (step ladders are fine as this would be classed as short duration and infrequent), being careful with decorations near to sources of heat and ensuring that things such as lights are turned off when your premises are unoccupied.

2. Indoor Christmas lights need a portable appliance test (PAT) every year

This is a contentious one. We would suggest that if you have an in-house PAT testing facility, then this would be a good, practical, thing to do to ensure that the lights aren’t damaged. The HSE actually advise that as long as you are checking for obvious signs of damage and not using obviously faulty lights, then this would be okay.

3. You can’t throw sweets out at a Pantomime

It has been seen in the papers. This is a case where the original company involved was simply afraid of having to pay compensation if anyone got hurt and blamed H&S in order to get their way. Our opinion, and that of the HSE, is that it’s a case of “oh yes you can!” Obviously on the proviso that you don’t have someone like Steve Backley (famous javelin thrower for our younger readers) machine-gunning sweets at 100mph!

4. Carol singers are a health and safety risk

They might be a form of noise pollution to some but as long as you follow sensible precautions, such as not signing in the middle of the road or carrying large quantities of cash, then there’s little risk from a hearty rendition of “Jingle Bells”.

We’ve also heard talk of the necessity to apply for a permit to carol sing. Again, we’re not aware of any legal requirement to do this either! Feel free to belt out your favourites at the top of your voice!

5. You cannot clear snow and ice from pavements

We would encourage everyone to ensure that access to their premises is maintained throughout cold spells. It is incredibly unlikely that you’ll be held responsible if you’ve attempted to do the right thing by clearing a path and then someone slips. In fact, we’ve never seen anybody succeed with any claims of this nature in the past 10 years. There are a few tips though to do this successfully:

    • Do it early in the day.
    • Don’t use water as it might refreeze and turn to black ice.
    • Use salt if possible or ash and sand if you don’t have enough salt.
    • Pay extra attention when clearing steps and steep pathways. Add more salt if you can.

Remember to enjoy yourself!

Christmas is a time to have fun, not to be swamped by health and safety regulations. As long as you take a reasonable and practical method of planning whatever you’re wanting to do to get into the festive spirit, we’re sure that you will be fine!

By Ian Clayton CMIOSHHealth & Safety Manager

Is the Professional Indemnity tide turning?

Over the last ten years Professional Indemnity premiums for the traditional and emerging professions have been pretty stable. This has also been the case for the ‘design and build’ construction sector. The market has been characterised by a benign claims climate and a ready supply of Insurers prepared to offer terms at generally competitive rates, even to businesses that had suffered claims. However, in the last 6 months there have been warnings that the market is turning and not for the better! 

The first signs of market change started to show with the solicitors Professional Indemnity Insurance season. This sector is unusual in that for the majority of the legal professions, Professional Indemnity falls due for renewal in October. During the Summer, a number of major insurers withdrew from the market, as a result of worsening claims and increased awards, and this caused something of a price shock. This situation was further exacerbated by the Grenfell Fire Disaster. Following the terrible events of July 2017 the investigation has started to raise questions about the professional advisers involved in the construction and refurbishment of the building. Queries have been raised in relation to professional standards and the duty of care owed by companies involved in the construction and related sectors and this has resulted in a number of significant notifications being made to insurers. As a corollary to this, a number of organisations have started retrospective reviews of their own property portfolios which has lead to an additional spate of insurance notifications against construction related professionals.

To say that this has destabilised insurers is something of an understatement. Premiums have increased, restrictive conditions are being applied and levels of cover that have previously been agreed have been reduced. Policies that previously applied a limit of indemnity per claim are now being limited to providing the limit of indemnity on an aggregate basis which may be in breach of contractual conditions or possibly collateral warranties.

With this background in mind it is essential that your Professional Indemnity cover is reviewed early and you ensure that you are speaking with a specialist broker, such as ProAktive, who can ensure that you receive the correct level of technical advice and support.

This cloud does have a silver lining in that cover for emerging professions is still widely available at sensible rates!

By Andy MorleyGroup Managing Director

Terrorism Disruption Insurance

A traditional terrorism policy within the UK operates in the event of physical damage to premises as a result of a terrorist attack, targeting loss of life and creating fear and panic.

However, terrorism in the UK is evolving – The changing nature of more recent attacks can cause significant disruption to businesses located in the vicinity of an incident, even if the business has not been directly targeted in the attack.

This means businesses in the vicinity of such attacks will suffer, whether or not they incur physical damage, for the time the area is cordoned off by the police.

Denial of Access covers loss sustained during the period of time when access to your property is prevented. The trigger is physical damage and insurers commonly apply a radius to the impact area to include in the coverage. Policy extensions for aspects like Denial of Access following an act of terrorism are therefore important coverage to consider.

A broader form of Denial of Access Business Interruption cover is when there is no physical damage policy trigger but either a lock-down or a certified threat to a particular area occurs.

Meanwhile, Loss of Attraction may occur where there has been no direct damage to a business’ premises or where there has been no physical damage at all. A loss of turnover or revenue resulting from a physical loss to a property in the vicinity of the premises or as a result of a non-damage/threat type event can be significant. If there is a closure of an important landmark, airport, transport hub or of a particular place where large numbers of people come together (for example, a shopping mall, theme park or nightclub) a reduced number of visitors will result. Industries which are particularly exposed are retail, hospitality and leisure.

While terrorism can occur anytime and anywhere, any size of business can suffer, either directly or indirectly. Businesses located in large urban areas should be even more concerned.

The potential cost of future terrorist attacks is now every bit as great as the physical loss of buildings.

If you would like to discuss terrorism cover in more detail please speak to your usual contact at ProAktive.

By Sam Geddes Cert CIICommercial Account Handler