Coronavirus (COVID-19) help and support

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting all of us in a variety of ways, and we know that customers are concerned about multiple elements of the Coronavirus pandemic. These are unprecedented times for us and for you, and we appreciate your cooperation as we find the best ways to protect and assist customers. We're getting a lot of calls right now and wait times are very long, so please don't phone unless it's absolutely necessary.

Please be reassured that we're doing everything we can to keep you updated on how Coronavirus (COVID-19) affects your business, landlord and van insurance policies. Many of your questions can be answered by our FAQs below. Additionally, both the Government and NHS have FAQ pages which offer further guidance and support. Stay safe.

General

  • Q What if I can't afford to pay for my policy?

    We are aware of the impact of COVID-19 on many peoples' jobs and livelihoods. If you find that you can't pay for your cover this month, through no fault of your own, you should speak to us as soon as possible as it gives us the best chance of providing support. Don't cancel any payments or direct debits through your bank as this can affect your policy with us and impact your credit history.

    For example, we may be able to support you by:

    • Reviewing your levels of cover
    • Changing your payment date
    • Offering a payment deferral

    A payment deferral means putting off your payments for a short period. When you start paying again, the amount that has been ‘missed' gets spread over the remainder of the agreement. We will not charge any additional interest to you so the total amount payable won't increase as a result.

    Payment deferrals should only be used when necessary, as the full credit agreement balance will still be due but will be paid for over a shorter period. Agreed payment deferrals will not have a negative impact on your credit score (if applicable).

    Furthermore, the UK Government has announced a range of financial measures to support individuals and businesses through the pandemic, and you can find more details on how to access this support here.

    If you feel that you would benefit from speaking to someone about your situation, our insurance policies include access to a 24/7 stress counselling helpline, provided on our behalf by DAS Legal. You can find out how to use this service on page 2 of your policy documents (if you're a landlord) or page 1 (if you have a business policy).

  • Q Can I remove covers from my policy?

    You can remove covers on your policy provided they are not deemed by us as a core cover and you haven't made any claim(s) in the current period of insurance. This can be done by giving us notice on the phone. We will refund any premium paid for the remaining period of your insurance contract, and no administration fees will be charged. However, to ensure you do not remove any covers essential to your needs, please contact us to discuss your policy.

    Equally, if you need to make any amendments to your policy, no administration fees will be charged.

    If you're facing difficulty paying for your cover, we may be able to help you in other ways. Please speak to us as soon as possible as it gives us the best chance of providing support.

  • Q Can I freeze my insurance policy?

    We're not able to freeze policies, but we can offer payment options if you find that you can't pay for your policy this month. Please get in touch with us as soon as possible to discuss the options available.

    For example, we may be able to support you by:

    • Reviewing your levels of cover
    • Changing your payment date
    • Offering a payment deferral

    If you have closed your business temporarily, we have waived our cancellation fees during this pandemic, allowing you to cancel your policy without charges. When you're back up and running, you can take out a new policy with us.

  • Q What if I need to renew my policy?

    You can still renew your policy with us, but as our phone lines are busy at the moment there may be a longer wait time. If your policy is on automatic renewal and if there are no changes you don't need to do anything.

  • Q What if I need to claim for something unrelated to COVID-19?

    If your claim is urgent please call us, alternatively you can start some claims online, so please visit our claims page to find out more.

  • Q What do I need to consider before reopening my business?

    Here are some things to think about relating to your return to business, ahead of lockdown restrictions easing:

    • Consult and follow the recommended Government guidelines
    • How will you implement social distancing requirements for staff and visitors to your business premises?
    • Utilise PPE, shielding, additional hand washing facilities and restricted access to keep everyone safe
    • Consider your contingency plan if employees display symptoms e.g. temporarily suspend trading or conduct deep clean
    • Ensure all employees are aware of any changes to safe system of work and changes are documented
    • Has equipment/machinery been idle for a period of time? What needs to be done to ensure safe operation?
    • Document additional staff re-training

    We've outlined further safety measures for reopening your business here.

  • Q Where can I find more information on the Financial Conduct Authority's Business Interruption test case?

    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has commenced a test case in the High Court to determine how some insurance policies, which do not require damage to property, react to Business Interruption claims resulting from losses due to Covid-19. Once the hearing is concluded, a Court ruling will be made. Direct Line for Business standard policies are not affected by the outcome of the test case. The FCA website has useful information on the topic of COVID-19 and business interruption insurance which will be kept up to date on developments.

Frequently asked questions for...

  • Q Can I claim on my business insurance for COVID-19?

    We're aware that our small business customers may have concerns in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on their business.

    Firstly, we advise all customers to follow the latest Government guidance.

    Our commercial policies cover a range of specified diseases. However, we don't provide cover for losses or interruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Our small business customers have access to a legal advice helpline through their Direct Line business cover. Customers with questions relating to their legal obligations in relation to their commercial contracts for example, can seek advice through the helpline. You can use this by calling 0345 878 5024 (lines are open 24/7, but if you require specialist advice this will take place between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public and bank holidays). Our insurance policies also include access to a 24/7 stress counselling helpline, provided on our behalf by DAS Legal. Both you and your employees can use this service. You can find out how to use this service on page 1 of your policy documents.

    In addition, the UK Government has announced a range of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow this link for more details on how to access this support.

  • Q Is it possible to add business interruption cover to my existing policy?

    Yes, although please note that our business interruption policies do not cover for interruption or loss as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19). For further information and to get a quote please click here.

  • Q If I'm self-employed and have to self-isolate, will my insurance cover my time off work?

    Self-isolation, the inability or the reduced ability to work as a result of COVID-19, is not covered under our business interruption insurance.

    For additional information on how different policies respond to the COVID-19 please refer to the Association of British Insurers' website.

    In addition, the UK Government has announced a range of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow this link for more details on how to access this support.

  • Q My main supplier or client can't trade due to the effects of COVID-19, am I covered for my loss of income?

    While our business interruption cover insures you for losses due to a main supplier or client being unable to trade, we don't cover losses or interruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Q Can I claim on my business insurance if the Government enforce a mandatory shutdown?

    Our business interruption policies have a standard policy extension to cover losses arising from the closure of the premises due to "disease", however, the extension applies to specified diseases and we don't provide cover for losses or interruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Q My policy includes an extension for 'denial of access', will this cover me if the Government forces a mandatory business closure?

    The 'denial of access' extension requires physical damage to the business premises. It will not cover interruption or loss as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    The UK Government has announced a range of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow this link for more details on how to access this support.

  • Q My policy includes an extension for 'closure' by a competent authority, will this cover me if the Government forces a mandatory business closure?

    This relates to closure as a result of defective drains or other sanitary arrangements such as toilets/sinks, or the removal of vermin or pests. This extension will not cover interruption or loss as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    For the latest information on the Government support available to small businesses please see here.

  • Q My policy includes a 'Public Emergency extension' will this cover me if the Government forces a mandatory business closure?

    The Public Emergency extension specifically excludes any infectious or contagious disease. As such it will not provide cover for losses or interruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    The UK Government has announced a range of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow this link for more details on how to access this support.

  • Q What do I do if my premises becomes temporarily unoccupied due to COVID-19?

    At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Direct Line for Business implemented measures to support customers whose properties both commercial and residential may have become temporarily unoccupied as a result of COVID-19. With effect from 24th March 2020 we extended the period which a property can be temporarily unoccupied for to 90 consecutive days. The end of this initial 90-day period falls on the 22nd June 2020.

    The easing of the UK lockdown is phased, allowing a range of businesses to reopen, albeit at different times. Car showrooms, garden centres and schools all opened at the start of June, with non-essential retail due to open from mid-June. However, this will mean that some properties will still be temporarily unoccupied for a variety of reasons. It may be that the businesses are not permitted to open yet, have chosen not to (e.g. due to working from home) or are permitted to open but cannot make necessary changes (e.g. due to space restrictions).

    As a result, we would like to confirm our stance regarding temporarily unoccupied premises as we reach the end of this initial 90-day period. Direct Line for Business will agree to extend this period until the 5th of August 2020 for any existing customers with premises that are still unoccupied after 90 days due to the pandemic; subject to customers following the below guidelines:

    • Ensure that the Premises is secured by putting all protective, locking devices and any alarm protection in effective operation.
    • Where practical, turn off the gas, water and electricity supply at the mains (except electricity needed to maintain any fire or intruder alarm systems, or water and heating systems for sprinklered Premises).
    • Where possible, You or a responsible person acting on your behalf should visit once every 7 days to physically check the premises and carry out immediately any work necessary to maintain the security of the Premises.
    • Ensure any accumulations of combustible materials such as junk mail and newspapers are removed during each inspection of the Premises.
    • Remove all trade refuse and waste materials from the interior of the Premises, allowing no accumulation of refuse or waste in the adjoining yards or spaces owned by You.
    • Police response or alarm companies response to alarm activations should remain intact, but the reaction times may be significantly lower. Where Policyholders are made formally aware that services are to be withdrawn, this should be notified to us by phone.

    Where possible, you must:

    • Secure all stock, wines, spirits, tobacco and other theft-attractive items to secure locations.
    • Remove/dispose of any perishables as the closure of the premises may be for a period of months.
    • Keep an inventory of non-perishable items that remain stored at the premises.
    • Remove all stock of spirits from bars and displays and locked away in more secure areas.
    • Ensure that security arrangements are in place with any key-holder when an auto dialler alarm is installed at the premises, including any arrangements with landlords in relation to 'tenanted' locations. It can be expected that some 'live-in' arrangements will continue, even where the main premises are not in use.

    All other conditions that require policyholders to take action or respond to intruder alarm activations, faults or other maintenance-related matters will continue to apply, unless otherwise agreed as impractical due to COVID-19 Government guidance.

    If you're concerned about the unoccupancy conditions, the security of your property, or anything else relating to this then please call us.

  • Q If I start running my business from home during the lockdown, will my insurance still cover me?

    The Government have issued advice on which businesses and venues must remain closed and the exceptions that apply.

    If you are one of these businesses that is an exception and can remain trading from home, your insurance remains in place providing you follow the specific directions and safety measures set out by the Government. For example, ensuring suitable personal distancing precautions are being taken if you are delivering items, subject to our normal policy terms and conditions.

  • Q My employees are working from home due to recent Government guidance, will they still be covered by my employer's liability insurance policy?

    Yes, your employer's liability cover will extend to cover your employees while they are working from home during this period. You must ensure that everyone working from home is doing so in a safe manner.

  • Q Some of my employees have had to take work equipment home with them in order to work there. Will my insurance cover work equipment at my employees' homes?

    If you currently insure business contents and stock at your business premises, we will extend this cover to include these insured items while they are temporarily at your home or your employees' home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes business or electrical equipment, such as computers or laptops, that are needed at home to enable you (or them) to continue to work, or where stock has been taken home to fulfil deliveries or for safe storage.

    We will cover your business contents, electrical equipment and stock up to a maximum of 20% of the sum insured stated in your schedule or £10,000, whichever is the higher amount. This extension does not provide any additional cover in excess of the sum insured currently stated in your policy schedule. If you need to be covered for a higher amount, please contact us.

  • Q I'm now working from home and aware of potential cyber threats. Am I covered?

    If you have cyber insurance within your policy, you and any employees will still be covered if you’re working from home, provided you still follow the conditions of the policy, such as ensuring you back up your data every 30 days and keep your anti-virus software up to date. The full list can be found in the Cyber section of your policy documents (you can access these within your online account).

    It's important to be aware that you may have weaker security on your home networks compared to work systems, so we recommend that you update your security systems accordingly. In addition, not all video conferencing platforms are secure, so choose wisely, particularly if you're using them to share confidential information. You may find these tips on keeping data secure useful, as well as this article on preventing common cyber crimes.

    If you don't have cyber insurance, you may want to consider adding it. You can do this on the phone or via live chat.

  • Q Will my business insurance cover the cost of sanitising my business premises if required?

    Our commercial policies cover a range of specified diseases. However, they will not cover the costs of cleaning or sanitising business premises as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Q My B&B/guest house has no new bookings and existing bookings are being cancelled in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Will my insurance cover me for this loss of income?

    Our commercial policies cover a range of specified diseases. However, we don't provide cover for losses or interruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    For the latest information on the Government support available to small businesses please see here.

    Our business insurance policies include access to a 24/7 stress counselling helpline, provided on our behalf by DAS Legal. Both you and your employees can use this service You can find out how to use this service on page 1 of your policy documents.

  • Q I'm still trading but now offering food delivery/takeaway service, am I covered?

    If you're able to maintain staffing levels for kitchen services without breaching any self-isolation requirements and can comply with Government requirements, we'll cover you throughout the pandemic to deliver your goods to your customers or operate as a takeaway. You don't need to tell us that you're doing this.

    You'll need to follow the specific directions and safety measures set out by the Government, for example, ensuring suitable personal distancing precautions are being taken if you are delivering items. You may also need to check with your motor insurance provider to check you're covered to use your vehicle for business deliveries.

Our rent guarantee cover is an extension of our legal expenses cover. Claims are administered and managed by DAS Legal on our behalf so to stay up-to-date with the latest information and support available during this time, please visit their FAQ page.

  • Q Can I claim on my rent guarantee cover if my tenant stops paying due to COVID-19?

    We are currently in unprecedented times as the impact of COVID-19 spreads through all aspects of the UK economy. In response to the spread of COVID-19, the Government amended the law on the 23rd March so that no tenant would be evicted for a period of three months. The Government have now extended this period so no tenant will be evicted until the 23rd August. Landlords were able to apply for a three-month payment holiday on their Buy to Let mortgages and this too has been extended so landlords will still be able to apply for a further payment holiday if necessary.

    Our rent guarantee cover is an extension of our legal expenses cover. It covers the unpaid rent required by the tenancy agreement. It is contingent on several factors being established, one of which being the landlords' individual prospects of succeeding in legally regaining possession of their property. The latest announcement from the Government on 5th June states that the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action until the 23rd August. The Government is also intending to change the requirements for landlords to undertake before they can apply for a possession hearing. The Government's announcements mean that all repossession actions will fail during this period and there is no legal mechanism to assess the prospects of success of a claim during the same period.

    As a result of the change to the law and the suspension of the usual legal mechanism used to process claims, we have implemented a new claims process to assist our customers during this unprecedented period. If your tenant is struggling to pay their rent please notify DAS as soon as possible by calling 0345 878 5024. DAS are providing additional support to landlords during this period and early notification of any potential claims will allow DAS to support you ahead of the Government re-establishing the legal process. For further information please visit the DAS FAQ page.

    We are offering landlords additional support so they can help their tenants during this uncertain period. These measures include digital templates for payment plans and our legal advice helpline will continue to be available throughout this period. Our landlord customers can use this service by visiting www.dasbusinesslaw.co.uk and entering the code found on page 3 of your policy documents, or calling 0345 878 5024 (lines are open 24/7, but if you require specialist advice this will take place between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public and bank holidays). If you experience any problems accessing the service, please email details to businesslaw@das.co.uk with your policy number in the subject box.

  • Q What if I already have a repossession and rent guarantee claim underway, will that continue to be paid?

    If your claim has already been accepted and you are in receipt of rent guarantee payments, these will continue to be paid during the pandemic. For discussion on individual claims, you will need to contact the rent guarantee claims team on 0345 878 5024.

  • Q Given the current Government legislation regarding evictions, can I remove rent guarantee cover from my policy?

    In response to the spread of COVID-19, the Government has extended the initial three month suspension period for evictions, this period will now be in force until the 23rd August. During this period landlords can apply for a three-month payment holiday on their Buy to Let mortgages if necessary. Because of the change to the law, we cannot pay any new rent guarantee claims as there is no legal mechanism to process a claim. Once this extended period has ended, and providing the Government re-establishes the legal process, we will be able to progress with the claim as per the policy guidelines.

    The Government have confirmed that as part of the new legal process they are intending to amend the pre-action protocols for all housing possessions, meaning that there are currently undefined new requirements for landlords to undertake before they can apply to court for a possession hearing. As a result, the law may change again.

    Our rent guarantee cover is an extension of our legal expenses cover. In the meantime, we (along with DAS, who administer claims on our behalf) are supporting landlords by issuing new tools to enable them to work with tenants to agree compromises and payment plans. This follows the spirit of the Government's recommendations and may help to establish a solution without the need for legal action. This should also help our customers to demonstrate that they have complied with likely future Governmental pre-action protocol requirements. When the full legal details of this have been released we will update our tools to ensure detailed legal compliance.

    Should you still wish to remove rent guarantee cover from your policy, we will be happy to assist. However, should you do this, please note that once the new legal process is in place you will not be eligible to submit any new claims for rent arrears.

    In addition, we have taken the decision to temporarily halt all sales of new rent guarantee cover until the Government re-establishes the legal process. Therefore, should you choose to remove rent guarantee from your policy, you will not currently be able to add this back on at a later date.

  • Q What additional support are you offering landlords during this pandemic?

    Our landlord customers are able to obtain the latest legal advice throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by contacting our legal advice helpline, meaning you can speak to a qualified legal advisor for no extra charge. You can use this by calling 0345 878 5024 (lines are open 24/7, but if you require specialist advice this will take place between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public and bank holidays).

    Customers also have access to additional support, such as temporary payment plan templates to help you help tenants who have seen a reduction in income. You can find these and other helpful templates at www.dasbusinesslaw.co.uk by entering the code found on page 3 of your policy documents. If you experience any problems accessing the service, please email details to businesslaw@das.co.uk with your policy number in the subject box.

  • Q I'm self-isolating but my tenant has asked me to fix something that's broken, will my insurance cover me to send a contractor round?

    Landlords who have selected Landlord Emergency cover have access to a 24-hour claims line which will send out a certified contractor to secure or prevent further damage to the property. Contractors covered include drainage engineers, electricians, glaziers, locksmiths, plumbers, pest control, roofers, gas and heating engineers and general trades people.

    Our Landlord Emergency insurance will cover call-out charges, the costs for labour and materials up to £1,500 per claim, with policy-holders able to make as many claims as they need. Furthermore, tenants are able to make a claim and have an emergency dealt with on behalf of the landlord, saving time and potentially further damage.

  • Q How can I carry out right to rent checks when we're being advised to self-isolate or practice social distancing?

    The legislation on right to rent process has not changed. The guidance requires you to copy certain documents and ensure that any photo ID matches the likeness of the holder. You will need to adopt social distancing in order to carry out this task in line with Government recommendations.

  • Q What do I do if my property becomes temporarily unoccupied due to COVID-19?

    At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Direct Line for Business implemented measures to support customers whose properties both commercial and residential may have become temporarily unoccupied as a result of COVID-19. With effect from 24th March 2020 we extended the period which a property can be temporarily unoccupied for to 90 consecutive days. The end of this initial 90-day period falls on the 22nd June 2020.

    The easing of the UK lockdown is phased, allowing a range of businesses to reopen, albeit at different times. Car showrooms, garden centres and schools all opened at the start of June, with non-essential retail due to open from mid-June. However, this will mean that some properties will still be temporarily unoccupied for a variety of reasons.

    As a result, we would like to confirm our stance regarding temporarily unoccupied premises as we reach the end of this initial 90-day period. Direct Line for Business will agree to extend this period until the 5th of August 2020 for any existing customers with premises that are still unoccupied after 90 days due to the pandemic; subject to customers following the below guidelines:

    • Ensure that the Premises is secured by putting all protective, locking devices and any alarm protection in effective operation.
    • Where practical, turn off the gas, water and electricity supply at the mains (except electricity needed to maintain any fire or intruder alarm systems, or water and heating systems for sprinklered Premises).
    • Where possible, You or a responsible person acting on your behalf should visit once every 7 days to physically check the premises and carry out immediately any work necessary to maintain the security of the Premises.
    • Ensure any accumulations of combustible materials such as junk mail and newspapers are removed during each inspection of the Premises.
    • Remove all trade refuse and waste materials from the interior of the Premises, allowing no accumulation of refuse or waste in the adjoining yards or spaces owned by You.

    All other conditions that require policyholders to take action or respond to intruder alarm activations, faults or other maintenance-related matters will continue to apply, unless otherwise agreed as impractical due to COVID-19 Government guidance.
    If you're concerned about the unoccupancy conditions, the security of your property, or anything else relating to this then please call us.

Van insurance refunds

We know that many customers will have been driving their vans less because of lockdown. Your insurance premium is partially based upon your estimated mileage, so if you haven’t been on the road as much, your mileage will have reduced.

If you expect your annual mileage to reduce by at least 1,000 miles, use this form to let us know, as you may be eligible to receive a refund from us.

Remember though, even if you’re not driving your van, it’s a legal requirement for your vehicle to be insured, unless it has been registered with a SORN and is declared 'off the road' with the DVLA. You can find more information here.

Please see our FAQs for more information:

General van insurance FAQs

  • Q I'm volunteering for the NHS to help with the COVID-19 pandemic and using my van. Do I need to let you know?

    No, you don’t need to contact us to extend your cover or update your documents if:

    • You are volunteering for the NHS voluntary service
    • You are using your vehicle for unpaid voluntary work, such as transporting medicines or groceries to support people affected by COVID-19
  • Q My occupation has changed, am I still covered on my van insurance?

    If your occupation or employment status has permanently changed, you must tell us to ensure you have the correct cover in place.

    If it has temporarily changed for the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, you don't need to tell us and you will automatically be covered to drive your vehicle to various places of work, regardless of whether or not your employer has changed, unless:

    • You are working as a chauffeur, courier or driver (except when you are using your vehicle for voluntary work, i.e. transporting medicines or groceries to support people affected by
      COVID-19, in which case you are covered)
    • You work in the motor trade
    • You are being paid to deliver goods that are not owned by you or your employer.

    In these cases, we can only insure your van for social, domestic and pleasure (SDP) purposes. If you require additional cover, please seek specialist insurance through a different provider or through your employer.

  • Q My van MOT is expiring/has expired, but I cannot get a new one as my local garage is closed. Will my insurance still be valid?

    The Department for Transport has issued a six-month extension to all MOTs due for expiry from 30th March. Please take the time to carry out basic vehicle checks such as checking tyre pressure, water levels, ensuring oil and windscreen liquid are at the correct levels and that lights work - your safety is paramount. More details can be found here.