Unimutual works with Members to cover new business practices for COVID-19

CEO Connect #8: Managing through a challenging time, Unimutual services and benefits, and a market update
June 17, 2020

Unimutual works with Members to cover new business practices for COVID-19

Young Talented Male and Female Engineers In a Modern Laboratory Discussing Prototype built with the Help of 3D Printer.

Where Members are diversifying their business practices in response to the crisis, we are working with reinsurers to ensure that these new activities are included under your existing protections. Reinsurers are open to reviewing and extending cover for the activities that may not be covered. This article explains the situation, the implications for your cover, and what to do next if you are changing your business practices.

One of the silver linings of Coronavirus has been humanity’s adaptability and willingness to reorientate and collaborate for the greater good. For many of our Members, because of their industry (and their mutuality) this is their usual state of operating. Nonetheless, good news has come in from every corner about good acts, heart-warming stories and positive medical and scientific developments.

Globally universities have heeded the call to action and Australian universities are no exception. We have been delighted to share the good news with our Members that our valued reinsurers are doing their part by being open to extending existing covers to include such activities.

Members are diversifying their business practices during the crisis and some of these new activities that haven’t been previously declared to Unimutual, may have restrictions applying to coverage.

New business practices

Prior to the pandemic, many products with many functions were imported, and as a result supply was delayed with lockdown provisions put in place across the globe. Since April, some Members have been involved in the design, manufacture and distribution of certain products to help with the COVID-19 response. These have included ventilator and respirator parts, 3D printed face shields, face masks, and hand sanitiser.

These are mainly created for use in hospitals and remote locations. Most universities involved are planning to produce them over the next 6 months and then reassess or extend, depending upon developments.

Implications for cover

Because some of these products are medical products, exclusions may apply. Essentially, protection for product manufacturing of this kind sits under two classes of protection. The professional services provided to a third party – in this instance product design – are covered by your Professional Liability protection, if taken out with Unimutual. The exposures of property damage or personal injury arising from the product manufactured are covered under the General and Products Liability protection offered and accepted by Unimutual Members.

Whilst it’s true that certain Member exposures have reduced – because, say, people traffic on campus is down – it is also true that in other areas there have been exposure increases, such as student grievances arising from COVID. This is currently being balanced without the need for additional contribution.

In addition to risks related to the products, it is important to note that the usual work health and safety obligations apply. Many universities are applying careful measures – such as temperature checks, and of course masks and hand sanitiser – for students, staff, and anyone coming to a campus. For more on this, read our advice on the Return to Operations after COVID-19.

What to do next

If there is a change in your business activities, and these haven’t been declared to and agreed by Unimutual, you will be required to supply the following information:

  1. What is your new business and professional description?
  2. Do the protections comply with any contractual or legal obligations?
  3. Do you have a copy of the agreement?
  4. Do you have a copy of product specifications?
  5. Are you manufacturing, or distributing?
  6. If commercially sold, what process is in place to manage a recall?
  7. Does the product comply with all applicable legislative requirements? E.g. some products require regulatory approvals under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (TGA) or other legislation before they can be supplied.

Please note additional information may be required.

If this relates to you, please get in touch with the team in your usual way, or advise Salinda Saat via email.

Members are pivoting their business practices in other ways, including online learning, provision of telehealth services, etc. For more information on these, read about 10 risks you may not have considered in transitioning to online learning or watch the recent webinar on cyber protection. For further information on your cover regarding COVID, read our COVID-19 FAQs.

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