COVID-19 Insurance Update: 29 May 2020

Our latest thinking into the insurance impacts arising from the ongoing crisis is offered against the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, having confirmed that the five tests which must be satisfied before lockdown can be adjusted have been met. The Government will now move forward with its easing of restrictions in England on Monday 1 June.

Other countries are following suit in relaxing lockdown rules, including Scotland and Northern Ireland. Nearly all mainland regions of France will move into the “green zone” from 2 June and is rolling out a new tracing app called StopCovid from next week.

Nevertheless, the disruption caused by the pandemic continues to gain pace across all sectors. That includes a fall in UK car production, retailer Monsoon Accessorize reportedly close to contacting administrators and extended shutdown on domestic cricket until at least 1 August. The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) have said that international tourism is expected to fall by 70% this year, the biggest slump since the 1950s. Tour operator Tui has extended the suspension of holidays for UK customers until at least the end of June due to ongoing travel restrictions.

Further, The British Chambers of Commerce has released its latest COVID-19 Business Impact Tracker which warns that one in ten firms said they would not be ready to implement Government guidance safely and restart operations soon. However, 83% of firms surveyed said they had “high levels” of awareness of the Government’s new workplace guidance, while 85% said they have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

And with the Government having last week introduced the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Bill and announced changes to the Large Business Interruption Loan and Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Schemes, the expectation is that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce details on the extension of the Job Retention Scheme at the Government’s afternoon press conference today. 

We start this edition by looking at the prospect of human challenge trials as part of the response to develop a vaccine. Involving the deliberate infection of human volunteers, the balancing of legal, medical and ethical considerations is no easy task.

Turning to the risks of home working, we consider the use of display screen equipment (DSE) and mental health. With businesses having seen a movement of millions of their workers from the office to an enforced home office environment, a key risk at this time is in the use of DSE.

Similarly, working in isolation is a key factor that should be considered by an employer on undertaking a risk assessment for home workers, to help ensure good mental health. As lockdown arrangements continue, regular contact with employees becomes ever more important as the feelings of isolation and anxiety increase.

Turning to the mechanics of dispute resolution, we consider the implications of instructions to issue court proceedings to protect the time bar but not to press ahead with service during a pandemic. With the current crisis making service of a claim form ever more difficult, we offer some tips on the best course of action to take. And with the litany of disputes arising out of COVID-19, many parties are forum shopping to identify the jurisdiction they perceive to be the most favourable to them to determine their disputes. We look at the importance of English anti-suit injunctions during the pandemic.

In our last update, we considered some of the challenges encountered by cargo owners, shippers and insurers as a result of goods being held at ports, at warehouses and forwarders’ premises due to the COVID-19 crisis. Here, we look at the costs implications of unclaimed cargo and the problems for both cargo owners and the forwarding agents appointed to transport the goods.

Finally, we are delighted to direct you to our latest research thought leadership report – The future of care: is technology the answer? The COVID-19 outbreak has confirmed the inflexibility and lack of innovation in personal care systems around the world. Whereas there had previously been persistent obstacles to the take up of health-related technology, the spread of COVID-19 is seeing healthcare professionals turning to technology to provide a solution to some of the barriers created by reduced face-to-face contact.

We hope you enjoy this update and welcome your thoughts and observations.

Links to all articles included in the update:

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