Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic it is a very difficult time for communities across the country. We are in unprecedented times and are having to review our policy and the cover provided as new issues emerge.
We have received a number of enquiries as to whether Village Halls would be insured should they be forced to cancel activities or if hirers cancel their bookings owing to the coronavirus. Business Interruption cover under the policy would not provide cover for this type of loss so there is no insurance for loss of earnings. This situation will not change – even if the government decide to officially close all community buildings.
Some of our halls have asked their hirers to ensure that, if one of their members is ill, they should not attend the Hall. Should a visitor have been in contact with anyone suffering from the virus they should self-isolate. If an outbreak were to be traced to the Hall it would not be possible for you to be held liable. However, it may be best to ensure you have a good supply of soap, hand sanitisers and paper towels.
There is an unoccupancy condition on this policy that restricts cover if the period between hirings exceeds 30 consecutive days. However, in light of the current situation Ansvar have agreed to withhold the unoccupancy restrictions and you do not have to inform insurers of unoccupied properties. This is initially up to 30th June 2020, but this will be reviewed as it is currently unclear when businesses will be able to resume operations.
However, if your building is no longer occupied this represents a greater risk and it is important that you take measures to protect it. Ansvar have provided the following guidelines for unoccupied properties to ensure that cover is still provided:
We would advise, where you are able to do so safely and within the current government guidelines, you try to ensure that:
the buildings are inspected internally and externally by an authorised person once a week to check the security and general condition of the premises;
all waste, refuse and other disused combustible materials is cleared from the buildings and any grounds adjacent to it;
all external doors are securely locked and all opening windows closed and locked (where fitted with locking devices);
all tanks and pipes are drained down where and when you are able to do this, and all taps, stopcocks and mains supply valves turned off. If this is not possible, because you need to maintain a central heating system, a minimum temperature of 7°C should be maintained.
a) gas supplies should be switched off unless to maintain a central heating system b) electricity supplies should be switched off unless to maintain a central heating system or existing intruder alarm systems, fire protection systems, CCTV, security lighting or sprinkler systems.
all existing physical devices for securing, or preventing access to the buildings must be kept in full and effective operation at all times and to have all keys removed from the locks and kept in a secure place away from the premises;
We recognise that you may not be able to complete all of the items listed above, either partially or in their entirety but we would encourage you to consider anything you can do, to reduce the risk of damage or loss, particularly through escaping water from heating systems and security of the premises generally. Your cooperation during this difficult time is very much appreciated.
We are not able to offer advice regarding procedures for the cleaning of halls and we would refer you to the National Health Service website for information of this sort: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-prevent-germs-from-spreading/
Advice for employers and employees can be found on the ACAS website: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
We are updating our website as more information becomes available about coronavirus and the effect on your policy.