QBE Insurance is rolling out measures to support its small and medium enterprise (SME) customers in Australia and New Zealand who have been impacted by COVID-19.
The announcement follows industry-wide discussion and regulatory approval for the initiatives from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and is on top of existing measures to support customers experiencing financial difficulty, the insurer said in a statement.
These measures will be available for policies that will expire on or before September 30, and it will reassess their availability as needed.
QBE said that for business packages, commercial motor and individual personal accident renewals, it will maintain the expiring premium where the sum insured hasn’t changed.
Premium payments will be deferred, excluding workers’ compensation and accident & health, for SME customers experiencing financial hardship, and insurance cover for vacant business premises will be continued.
QBE will provide ‘laid up’ cover for commercial motor policies where vehicles are no longer on the road, as well as workers’ compensation premium support, including premium instalments for SME customers and mid-term wage adjustments for businesses that have material changes in estimated wages.
The insurer will implement an accelerated cash-settlement process for customers who have a natural disaster claim underway and would prefer to manage their own repairs, as well as changes to claims processes to avoid infection between suppliers and customers. It also pledged to pay its suppliers faster.
QBE will reinstate trade credit coverage for the vast majority of buyers whose cover has been reduced to nil. This is in response to customer and broker feedback and includes key businesses in the construction industry.
According to QBE Australia Pacific CEO Vivek Bhatia, the company recognises that many businesses and individuals across Australia and New Zealand are in need of support at this challenging time.
“We have listened to our customers and understand they need support now and will continue to do so over the coming months. We are committed to helping them through this challenging time.
“The initiatives announced today are focused on meeting the immediate needs of our small and medium business customers and we are working hard to ensure that these can be delivered quickly. These measures are in addition to initiatives already in place supporting all customers experiencing financial hardship.”