NFU Mutual has extended its coverage to include the risks posed by coronavirus, as well as guaranteeing full pay for employees and support for agents
Rural insurer NFU Mutual has announced a £32m ($40m) support package for customers and employees, with £24m ($30m) allocated to pay accident claims relating to coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19.
The firm has extended its coverage for personal accident and group personal accident claims, two extensions available to existing home and business customers, so both will now pay out if policyholders are incapacitated by the disease.
Its announcement has come after a spate of insurance companies and industry associations affirmed that claims related to Covid-19 will only be covered for those with extensions for pandemics — a position NFU Mutual adheres to regarding its business interruption policies.
NFU Mutual CEO Lindsay Sinclair said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on everybody, including our customers and their local communities, which is why we have committed to this unique package of support.
“Not only are we significantly increasing our charitable donations and utilising our local agency network to help those most in need, but we are also in the process of making real changes to our insurance products that will benefit our customers.”
Through expanding accident coverage on policy extensions, NFU Mutual said it expects to pay out £12m ($15m) in 2020 to members of the mutual affected by Covid-19.
A further £8m ($10m) will be split into charitable donations, improvements to the company’s claims procedure, and support for its employees and network of insurance agents.
“On top of that, despite the challenges we are also facing, we have decided to continue to offer a high level of Mutual Bonus, because we recognise this is a difficult period for all,” Sinclair said.
“This is expected to save our loyal customers £250m ($307m) in the form of premium discounts.”
In a message specifically aimed at reassuring key workers, he added: “Many of our customers have been affected by this outbreak and a significant number of them are key workers, responsible for helping to feed and support the nation in difficult circumstances.
“On behalf of NFU Mutual, I would like to personally thank you for all you are doing for the country and assure you we will continue to look at more ways to support our customers.”
Outside of the financial package, the company also said its staff of more than 4,000 will continue to be paid in full — including any unable to work because they are looking after dependents during the crisis.
A breakdown of NFU Mutual coronavirus support package
£24m to increase cover
NFU Mutual will be including Covid-19 on the personal accident and group personal accident extensions available for existing home and business customers, and this will also be available to new policyholders.
It will also extend cover for businesses to allow for expanded commercial activities and volunteering during the coronavirus pandemic in line with recent principles set out by the Association of British Insurers.
The firm also said home insurance customers will continue to have access to annual travel coverage that includes claims related to Covid-19.
£5m in support for agents
NFU works with around 300 Mutual Agencies around the UK employing about 2,750 people.
Mutual Agents are self-employed and work alongside the National Farmers’ Union.
The company’s £5m ($6m) support scheme is aimed at allowing them to remain open while working remotely.
£1.8m in charitable donations
NFU Mutual said it set up a £1m ($1.2m) emergency fund to be released through its agency network to local charities and communities “from the Highlands and Islands to rural towns and remote villages”.
There will also be an additional £750,000 ($920,000) donation to the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust — which supports rural charities — and a £50,000 ($61,000) donation to affiliated charity, the Farm Safety Foundation, to support and extend its mental health work during this period of isolation.
£1.35m to speed up claims
NFU Mutual said it is spending £1.35m ($1.6m) to streamline its claims process and ensure claims can be paid quickly and easily, and without the need for “unnecessary contact”.