Aqueous adds lockdown unoccupancy cover as standard

Aqueous Underwriting has moved to incorporate lockdown unoccupancy cover as standard for all of its non-essential retail and hospitality customers, providing insureds with automatic cover following any future government-driven regional or national lockdown resulting from an existing or future COVID or SARS variant.

The specialist managing general agent was among the first in the UK to respond to the original national lockdown last March, by providing temporary, unoccupied cover for customers forced to vacate their premises, including claims for material damage, theft and escape of water, at no additional cost.

Tom Hill, executive director at Aqueous said the first lockdown caught customers, brokers and insurers unawares, but it is now a foreseeable event and it is only right, with a view to treating customers fairly, that such an eventuality now be recognised as a foreseeable circumstance.

“Some commentators have cast doubt on the value of commercial insurance in a pandemic, particularly in light of the business interruption confusion, and we believe that by taking this action we are taking a step to filling any perceived value void and helping to redress the balance in public opinion.

“Our new standard cover aims to future-proof our policy for our customers, as pandemics and the associated lockdowns may well be a more regular occurrence.”

The move also means that brokers will no longer have to apply for individual client extensions.

“We hope that the measures we’re offering our brokers will help business owners as they try to weather the impact of a pandemic both now and in the future,” Hill added.

As part of its coronavirus pandemic response, Aqueous is also providing free EL, PL and products liability insurance to existing SME customers, enabling them to switch to providing takeaway food and drink services in response to future lockdowns.

The new standard policies include clear definitions for both COVID and lockdown:

COVID-19:

a) Coronavirus disease (COVID-19);
b) Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2);
c) any mutation or variation of a) or b);
d) any fear or threat of a), b) or c) above.

Lockdown:

"The time during which the insured’s building(s) and/or premises become unoccupied solely as a direct result of the national and/or devolved governments of the UK issuing orders and/or restrictions imposed on a national, regional, or local basis and/or imposed on types of businesses similar to the business due to COVID-19 which orders and/or restrictions legally require the Insured to cease all trading activity in respect of the business from the building(s) and/or premises."

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