CGU SUPPORTING BROKERS AND THEIR SMALL BUSINESS CUSTOMERS IMPACTED BY COVID-19
Frequently Asked Questions
As the situation around COVID-19 rapidly develops, we will continuously review our position and update our broker partners via this page. The responses shown here supersede previous releases from CGU. The below information is current as at 23 April 2020.
What premium deferral initiatives are available?
We will allow brokers to provide existing CGU Small Business Customers who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship with the option to defer payment of their premium for up to six months. This applies to both annual payments and monthly instalments.
Why is CGU providing these initiatives?
We want to support our customers suffering the impacts of COVID-19. Ultimately, we want to help our vulnerable customers stay insured and protected to help them through these incredibly difficult times.
What is the effective date?
For Annual Policies, this is available for policies with a renewal date between 15 March 2020 and 30 September 2020.
For monthly instalment policies, this is available between 15 March 2020 and 30 September 2020.
Which policies does it apply to?
Premiums may be deferred for existing policies that are held by a Small Business Customer experiencing financial hardship except for Workers Compensation policies (and other statutory classes).
Who is eligible for deferral of payments?
We define a Small Business Customer as either a company, sole trader or partnership with an annual turnover of less than $50 million and/or a sum-insured asset value of up to $10 million.
This initiative is not mandated to be applied to all Small Business Customers, and the period of deferral can also be shorter than 6 months. We trust brokers will use discretion to offer this initiative, in whole or in part, to eligible Small Business Customers that are in financial hardship because of COVID-19.
What if we have a request from a customer who does not meet the eligibility criteria?
We may consider requests that fall outside of present criteria. Brokers should make a request to the relevant underwriting team and we will discuss this with you directly.
How is a Small Business Customer identified as experiencing financial hardship?
Our view is that the customer’s broker, as their advisor, is in the best position to determine whether their small business customers are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19. Each case will be different so we won’t be applying additional tests or qualifying criteria that could unfairly exclude some customers.
The intention of this initiative is that only those customers that are experiencing financial hardship will be offered the premium deferral option.
What do I need to do to apply for this on behalf of an eligible customer?
- For annual payments – please send an email referencing the Insured Name, Policy number and period of deferral to CGUPAC@cgu.com.au. Premiums can be deferred up to 6 months from the Premium Renewal Date.
- For monthly payments – contact our Premium Administration team via email on CGUPAC@cgu.com.au. Payments can be deferred by up to 6 months. This can only be applied to products that support instalment billing and brokers who are set up for instalment billing.
Once notice is received, you can extend your credit terms for that customer and their eligible policies for up to 180 days and remit payment to CGU as soon as possible but no later than 195 days. We will adapt our credit control and collection procedures to accommodate payments outside your standard credit term agreement with us and you will continue to receive your monthly statement from CGU which will highlight all unpaid policies over 90 days. Please continue to remit payments for customers that are not in financial hardship as usual.
If you are not currently set-up for instalment billing or if you would like to find out how, please contact your Account Partner.
Can I apply for this on behalf of a customer who has less than 6 months of monthly instalments owing?
A small business customer in financial hardship can request deferral and have the remaining portion of instalments for an existing policy period collected during the following policy period up to a maximum of six months (over both policy periods).
For example, if a customer requests to defer payments for six months on a monthly instalment policy with three months remaining on the 19/20 period, CGU will defer collection of the final three instalments for the 19/20 period. Upon renewal acceptance, we will defer the first three instalments for the 20/21 period. Monthly instalments will recommence at the end of the 6-month deferral period, with outstanding payments for the 19/20 period and 20/21 period being deducted at the same time.
We are working on a monthly report that will outline those instalments policies that have been deferred to help with your management and collection of intermediary fees.
How will commissions be collected during the deferral period?
For annual premiums, commission will be received by you when the customer remits premium to you, as is the case currently. With respect to monthly payments, where there has been a deferral, when the payment re-commences, the commission payment to you will also re-commence.
What will happen to additional premiums due to endorsements?
If an endorsement is processed between 15 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 on an annually paid policy with deferred payment, then the endorsement premium can also be deferred.
If an endorsement is processed between 15 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 on a monthly instalment policy with deferred payments, the change to premium will be applied to the payments that are deferred.
Can payments be deferred on New Business?
No, deferral of payments is for existing policies as at 15 March 2020.
What will happen if a customer cancels the policy while premium deferral is in place?
There will be no change to the standard credit control procedures for cancellation including due to non-payment. The standard procedures will take into consideration any agreed premium deferral.
What additional support is CGU providing to our Small Business Customers?
We are offering for free counselling service to Small Business Customers and their family members if they need help during these tough times. This service is provided by an independent psychological services organisation called Assure. Customers can call Assure on 1800 001 018 anytime to have an initial discussion with a specialist that can direct them to access a psychologist or any other form of counselling they might need.
We’ll provide up to four one-hour sessions for each family member (spouse, partner, children and other dependent) who wants counselling. All the counselling is from qualified psychologists, and all the sessions are confidential. To use this service, customers just need to have a current policy with us (they don’t need to make a claim).
What do I need to do if the customers business activities have changed?
It is important that changes to business activities are notified to the relevant underwriters so they can consider this and provide you with advice on possible solutions to ensure that the customers continue to be adequately covered. Many Small Business Customers may be trading under limited conditions which could result in adjustment of cover or a lower basis for rating. Similarly, certain businesses may have increased exposure or a change in activities that require changes to their policy.
What if a customer asks to extend their current policy?
We will continue to consider policy extensions under our current underwriting guidelines, on a case by case basis which can be discussed and negotiated with the underwriters.
Would you support requests to reduce sums insured?
Our underwriters can consider requests where a reduction or removal of cover is requested due to a change in the customers business profile.
What is CGU’s approach where the insured has temporarily removed equipment to alternative premises to enable continued trading including work from home?
Our Business Pack and ISR Policies has a temporary removal extension which in many cases will deal with such removal without any concerns. For removal of assets above the limits provided by this extension, we would allow this at no charge, provided that such assets have already been declared at the original insured location and the assets are not being relocated to a premises or location that we are unable to insure.
If you are unsure of the application of the above or for all other policies, please refer through to the relevant underwriting team for consideration.
What is CGU’s approach to risk surveys and existing risk improvement recommendations given COVID-19?
As a result of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions we are currently unable to conduct onsite surveys. Where we would normally seek a risk survey prior to renewal or new business, we will endeavour to seek this information through other means in order to assess the risk being presented (such as, virtual surveys, video walk throughs, questionnaires etc).
Where an insured customer has been proactively working with us to complete risk recommendations prior to renewal, we will consider a time extension on these recommendations being completed.
What is our approach to Laid-Up vehicles?
Fleet and Commercial Motor customers whose vehicles in current market conditions have been impacted by COVID-19 can contact our underwriters to discuss options to adjust the policy coverage, for example Comprehensive to TPO, TPFT, TPFT and Natural Perils or Laid Up* cover with appropriate reduction in premium. Our Underwriters can provide several options to one or any number of vehicles as well as guidance on risk management of these vehicles such as vehicle preparation, adequate spacing, on site security and key storage.
*Laid Up cover is specifically those vehicles that are locked and secured and off road such as locked garages, depots and fenced yards where any road use is strictly prohibited, and only Section 1 is operative.
Each request will be different to the clients own unique circumstances and solutions will be on a case by case basis.
Please see this document prepared by IAG Risk Partners which could help you and our customers manage the risk of Laid-Up vehicles.
Can an Insured request a midterm adjustment to their declared values on an ISR policy?
Within Mark IV/V policies, there are provisions that allow for adjustment of premiums. This provision addresses an adjustment in premium due to the difference between the actual values (determined at the end of the policy) and the provisional declared (at the start of the Policy). This means that for most ISR policies, adjustment in declared values occurs at the end of the policy term and there is no need to request this mid-term. This is our preferred way of dealing with these requests.
In circumstances where the Adjustment of Premium clause does not form part of the insured’s policy, we will consider requests for mid-term adjustment on a case by case basis. Please refer requests through to our underwriting team for consideration.
How will the policy conditions “Cessation of Works” under a Construction policy respond as a result of COVID19?
Annual and Single contract works policies have a Cessation of Works condition that has 30 days cover built into the wordings which under usual circumstances provides an adequate buffer for our insureds. Due to the rapidly evolving situation, CGU has prepared the following endorsement that will be applied in the event that construction is no longer deemed an ‘essential’ service that leads to an industry-wide shut-down.
“Where any cessation of work exceeding 30 consecutive days, or immediately following abandonment, which is not a direct consequence of a restriction to working practices of the construction industry as a result of the exercise of statutory powers and/or authority by any government or statutory authority due to the human coronavirus with pandemic potential (COVID-19), shall be notified to CGU and CGU reserve the right to alter the terms and conditions of cover, including cancellation of the policy.
Where a cessation of works is a direct consequence of a restriction to working practices of the construction industry as a result of the exercise of statutory powers and/or authority by any government or statutory authority due to the human coronavirus with pandemic potential (COVID-19), CGU will provide cover under the policy until the restriction to working practices is removed or the expiry of the Construction Period or after 120 days, whichever is the earliest.”
If you have any questions about this, please contact our Construction & Engineering underwriters.
Is Rent Default covered as a result of COVID-19 on domestic Landlord and Padlock insurance policies?
There is no exclusion for COVID-19 under Rent Default cover as this section of the policy does not specifically consider the reasons for depressed economic conditions that may cause a tenant to default on rent and be evicted. Due to the unprecedented circumstances, we will not enforce our policy condition around formal eviction of tenants where it is directly related to COVID-19. The quantifiable cover that can be granted under the policy will be determined by CGU with guidance that we receive from both State and Federal Governments which continues to evolve.
Will CGU continue to offer Rent Default under Landlords and Padlock policies?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have temporarily suspended the sale of Rent Default cover on new business policies and also endorsement onto existing policies.
We continue to offer renewal of Landlords and Padlock Policies with Rent Default to existing customers.
Can we still include Theft by Tenant within the Landlords policy?
Not currently. Under our policies, Theft by Tenant is bundled with Rent Default therefore the embargo applies to both covers.
Which customers are eligible for unoccupancy relief?
This is available to Small Business Customers with an annual turnover of less than $50 million and/or a sum-insured asset value of up to $10 million who have a current policy with CGU. If required, our underwriters can consider options for businesses that that do not meet these criteria.
What do CGU define as an Unoccupied or Vacant Risk?
Where the location is not occupied by any person during normal business hours, we would deem this to be a vacant and unoccupied risk.
What relief is CGU providing to customers whose premises become unoccupied due to COVID-19?
Certain insurance policies rely on occupancy of business premises because vacant premises are higher risk and typically attract higher premiums and/or excess. With the impact of COVID-19, many small businesses have been forced to shut down business operations, leaving their premises to be unoccupied. For our existing small business customers who find themselves in this situation, CGU will maintain full cover on the premises with no changes to premium, excess or conditions up to 30 June 2020.
All our policies contain a condition that applies to when premises become unoccupied and when cover will cease without notification to us unless we have otherwise agreed in writing. We will need to be notified prior to expiration of the policy condition of the vacancy of the premises.
How can I help my customer manage the increased risk to their unoccupied premises?
Please see this document prepared by IAG Risk Partners which could help you and our customers manage the risk of unoccupied premises.
Is CGU able to apply mid-term adjustments to Workers Compensation policies?
We will consider requests on a case by case basis, any mid-term adjustments should accurately account for the full-term wages over the policy period. Employers are reminded to be aware of their obligations under Workers Compensation legislation. Severe penalties may apply to employers who fail to maintain a current policy of insurance for the full amount of their liability under the legislation and/or who knowingly provide false information relating to the declaration of wages.
Brokers are to put mid-term request through sunrise. If the policy premium value is above $5,000 it can be approved by underwriter referral. You can download the following mid-term wages adjustment declaration form to assist in collecting revised information.
What will happen if adjustment to wages results in a credit?
Credits resulting from the mid-term adjustment will be offset with any current outstanding premiums or the renewal premium, where it is applicable. Where not available, please discuss this with us to determine the approach on a case by case basis.
Has CGU made changes to claims and assessing processes in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Where possible, our claims assessing processes have been revised to allow desktop and digital assessments to minimise face-to-face interaction. If we need to allocate a builder or supplier, or arrange for a claims assessment, we will ask screening questions regarding travel and health to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Our assessors will also use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and follow the appropriate health and safety advice of authorities. We’re continuing to work with our partner builders, repairers and supply chain to ensure we are supporting them and your customers throughout the claims process.
To ensure the health and safety of our customers and our motor repair partners, we are currently providing a temporary one-off payment of up to $25 per vehicle towards the disinfection of the vehicle before and after repair work has been done. The additional payment will be provided to repairers for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist with the additional health and safety expenses incurred by those businesses.