The last year has brought about a dramatic change in lifestyles. As a result of the pandemic, the majority of the population has been forced to work from home, while children have faced school closures.
With so many people in their homes much more than before the pandemic, the likelihood of things going wrong has soared. As a result, a number of changes have been made to the popular Hiscox 606 Home Insurance policy to better reflect the different circumstances people find themselves in. From Covid-19 related additions to simplifications of existing cover, the new policy will ensure that your clients will continue to receive best-in-class home insurance throughout the rest of lockdown and beyond.
The key changes
Tim Slattery, Personal Lines Underwriting Manager at Hiscox, says that part of the reason for announcing these changes is to ensure that your clients receive the cover they need for these changing times. But it’s also about raising awareness about cover included in the existing policy that they might not be aware of.
“People have understandably had a lot to think about over the last year, and so maybe insurance hasn’t been at the front of their minds,” he says. “But it’s a really important thing to have. People are in their houses all the time. That creates much more opportunity things to break, or red wine to spill on the carpet, or kids to break things like iPads.”
The Hiscox 606 policy is an ‘all-risks’ insurance policy, whereby everything is covered except for specifically listed areas. “We’re aiming to give your clients complete peace of mind,” says Tim. “We want to remove stress and financial worries from your clients’ lives.”
Some of the key changes reflect the different circumstances people find themselves in now. With so many people working from home, one of the main areas of concern has been broadband. The strain on the nation’s broadband services has jumped significantly, with data by Openreach suggesting that 2020 saw usage double on the previous year. Home broadband services that previously saw most of their usage in the evenings are now experiencing round the clock demand. And as a result, some have buckled under the pressure. At the same time, for users that are having to work from home, they can’t afford to have a faulty service interrupt their jobs.
“If your clients broadband provider fails to provide a service for more than 24 hours, we will cover your client for any additional costs they might incur in order to work,” says Tim. So this could mean the use of mobile data use that can sometimes be eye-wateringly expensive is covered by their 606 policy. Similarly, once lockdown is over, if your client has to go to a café and use their Wi-Fi for most of the day in order to work, they will be covered for those costs. “It’s about getting your clients back up and running as quickly as possible,” says Tim. The same principle also applies to other utilities failing, such as electricity or gas.
As part of the 606 cover, Hiscox has always provided your clients with alternative accommodation in the event of them needing to move out. But now with the increased need to work from home, the policy is extending cover to ensure that people get like-for-like home office facilities too.
Many of your clients will also own second homes that they’ve been unable to visit because of lockdown. The worry of something going wrong and not being able to check is considerable, but it’s important to note that the 606 policy will ensure those properties are also covered. Tim says: “People might not know if there’s a burst pipe or if there’s been a burglary at a second home.”
Another change to the policy is around commuting. Few people are desperate to get back on the tube once workplaces reopen and have sought alternative modes of transport. While e-scooters aren’t currently allowed to be ridden in the UK by law, the sharp rise in sales (Halfords reported sales had tripled in 2020) means they are likely to be regulated in the not-too-distant future. As a result, Hiscox will provide cover both for the e-scooters as well as any accidents, once the law has changed.
One of the biggest changes to the policy is around purchases. Many people have spent a lot of money during the last year, and so Hiscox is providing a free 25% uplift on contents, jewellery and art cover for new acquisitions bought during the policy period. All your clients need to do is to inform you when they’re renewing their policy of any new purchases so that the items are listed in the event of any disasters occurring and claims needing to be made. “It gives your clients protection throughout the year and removes the admin burden of having to call us every time they make a purchase,” says Tim.
Obviously, this year has seen very little travel take place, as well as a lot of disappointed people forced to cancel their holidays because of the pandemic. But as things open up in the coming months, people will be eager to venture out and explore the world (or just somewhere different to the home they’ve been for the past 12 months).
Our annual travel policy add on has been changed to include Covid-19 cover as standard. That means your clients can go abroad safe in the knowledge that their policy will cover them for cancellation, curtailment and medical expenses that arise as a result of the pandemic.
“Your clients can plan ahead and book their trips in the knowledge they’ve got good cover. Should they need to cancel a trip, then we will refund them any money spent because of Covid-19.” says Tim. “And if they need medical assistance while overseas, then we will also cover the cost of that.”
Beyond the pandemic
Hopefully the end is in sight for lockdown: certainly, there appears to be a glimmer of light on the horizon. But life has changed dramatically over the last year, and with many people getting accustomed to working from their homes, such a lifestyle is likely to continue long after lockdown ends. It’s important that policyholders know that the changes to the 606 Home Insurance policy will remain beyond lockdown, says Tim. “I’m sure that in the future, many people will want to strike the balance of working from home and in the office. I think a lot of the risks people are facing, in terms of their homes, will stay as a result. And that’s why the changes will stay in place after lockdown ends.”
There are a whole range of additional changes to the policy, including a simplification of the personal cyber coverage, that you can explore further for your clients here.