As the UK looks forward to moving, hopefully, out of a year of on-off lockdowns, Simon Jones reflects on the trends Quadra has seen in the specialist and heritage property claims sector during the pandemic.
Simon Jones on Covid, claims, and emerging trends
As we move into the second, and hopefully last, year of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, it is perhaps timely to reflect on the impact of the pandemic over the last 12-18 months.
Early last year, with the newspapers widely predicting the announcement of a full lockdown, we acted quickly in order to ensure all our staff were equipped and able to work from home. We identified any vulnerable staff working in our offices and prioritised supporting them in the switch to home working. As Covid-19 spread, and ahead of the introduction of Government regulations, all remaining office-based staff were also relocated to homeworking in a controlled, managed environment over a period of five days and without any disruption to our service. This exercise was completed ahead of the 23 March introduction of enforceable Government regulations.
Following the eventual easing of restrictions the first time around, and at the request of some staff, we reopened our Manchester office and satellite offices in June last year. All offices have since remained open to this day, although office attendance remains entirely optional.
As the crisis unfolded, we focused on identifying any vulnerable customers and actioned welfare phone calls. Bulletins were also issued to all clients and staff detailing our response and, as restrictions were eased, detailed guidance was issued to our approved contractors and suppliers providing direction on how to interpret the Government published advice.
We had expected lockdown to result in a surge in claims around property-owners, especially with heritage buildings and others being left vacant and moth balled. However, property owners were very vigilant, and the lockdown was so widespread that a spike in theft and malicious damage cases did not materialise.
Generally, the number of commercial loss instructions that we received remained static, with many commercial enterprises continuing to trade BAU. We did see a fall in the number of instructions received from some clients specialising in the provision of HNW insurance, which was inevitable with more people working from home and therefore vigilant to incidents such as water leaks occurring, and also holidays being so difficult over the last 14 months or so. With some good business wins over the period, however, this decline was discounted and instructions for the year exceeded forecast.
We did see a slight increase in instructions from the Heritage Sector over the summer when Churches and other heritage sites reopened, with an increased number of storm and escape of water cases also being reported.
A new environment
Traditional claims did not increase, but we did see a rise in requests for our environmental claims services from prospective clients. It is too early to say if this is due to a general increase in this type of claim as a consequence of more people working from home, or more as a direct result of other claims service providers moving away from providing environmental repair and validation services.
Overall, looking back over the past year, it has been a fairly smooth ride for the sectors we operate in, in terms of claims. And, despite internal predictions of a fall in instructions from insurers, it has been the opposite. In addition to the business wins that we have had, we also saw a general increase in work and we ended the year 10% ahead of forecast.
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Find our latest Covid-19 client update here.
Simon Jones looks at the year ahead in our next blog: Looking forward with Quadra’s Simon Jones