With COVID-19 tightening its grip on the global economy and insurance sector, we have taken a look at the potential claim trends that may develop over the next 12 months.
Professional Indemnity - Solicitors
The COVID-19 pandemic naturally encouraged the general public to get their personal affairs in order. This led to solicitors receiving an influx of instructions to draft wills on behalf of clients.
Although an upturn in work was positive news, such instructions came with one significant logistical issue. During the UK-wide lockdown, solicitors were prevented from physically meeting with clients, whether it be in the office, at home or in the hospital. This meant that instructions needed to be obtained via telephone or video call, increasing the risk of instructions being improperly recorded.
We anticipate an increase in probate negligence claims against solicitors over the next 12 months mostly on the basis that a deceased’s intentions are not accurately reflected in their will.
Professional Indemnity - Surveyors and Valuers
The potential impact of COVID-19 on the UK property market could prove to be problematic for valuers and surveyors.
Earlier in 2020, risk exposure was heightened by the implementation of the UK Government’s COVID-19 guidance. Such guidance limited physical inspections of properties, meaning that Surveyors / Valuers were required to complete desktop inspections and/or rely on third party information to calculate valuations. Inevitably, greater care will need to be taken when documenting the reasoning for valuation figures.
This potential spike in Valuers and Surveyors claims should last well into 2021.
Directors & Officers
The deterioration of the global economy will inevitably impact the solvency of businesses to the point where they are no longer sustainable. An increase in company liquidations is anticipated during late 2020/early 2021.
Where liquidators are appointed to wind up the affairs of a company, the conduct of Directors and Officers will be heavily scrutinised. There is a likelihood that D&O claims will increase generally over the next 12 month period.
As a consequence we may also see greater activity in claims against Insolvency Practitioners simply due to the greater amount of work being done.
The recent decision of the High Court in relation to the FCA intervened BI coverage litigation has, pending a leapfrog appeal to the Supreme Court, opened the way for a large number of BI claims to proceed. There are still coverage arguments in relation to claims on “denial of access” covers. If nothing else, the decision highlights the complexity of the provision of BI cover and when businesses find they do not have a cover that works for them insurance brokers may well see a surge in claims. No doubt there will also be litigation arising from difficulties in agreeing on the extent of payments in covered BI claims.[LC1]
The majority of the UK’s workforce has worked from home since the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March 2020. This has created an increased risk of mental health issues and work related stress due to the continued isolation away from an office environment. There is also a heightened risk of workplace injuries (such as repetitive stress injuries) due to inadequate workstation assessments. This could potentially lead to a surge in Employer Liability claims. See our report - https://www.crawco.co.uk/resources/covid-19-and-liability-claims
If workers are made to return to their places of work, employers’ compliance with the coronavirus guidelines will come under intense scrutiny. Given that COVID-19 is a novel disease, it is imperative for employers to evidence that they have followed such guidance.
With a global economic recession and a spike in unemployment levels in the UK, a significant increase in fraudulent claims is almost inevitable. Over the next 12 months, we expect a rise in EL, PL and RTA claims pursued by opportunistic claimants attempting to supplement their diminished income. This will especially be the case once the UK Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end on 31 October 2020.
Some claimant law firms could also exacerbate the problem by actively inviting instructions from claimants in relation to COVID-19 claims. Although it may prove difficult to bring a fraudulent COVID-19 claim successfully in the EL/PL sphere, we do predict that there will be a significant increase in notifications that could mostly relate to speculative claims.
Why not look at our recent webinar with RSA on ‘the rise of the pandemic fraudster’ https://registration.livegroup.co.uk/airmicfest/contenttabs/embed.aspx?dfid=46887&ctid=3839&cat=0
As with many aspects of our daily life, COVID-19 is having a major impact on the insurance market and our recent report https://www.crawco.co.uk/resources/responding-to-a-market-in-flux-what-does-the-pandemic-mean-for-the-insurance-industry explores the macro-dynamics created by the COVID-19 pandemic and how these will potentially disrupt current operating “norms” and alter the future insurance landscape.