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BDMA director on requesting "essential worker" status for members

BDMA director on requesting "essential worker" status for members | Insurance Business

BDMA director on requesting "essential worker" status for members

Under the current FCA guidelines, essential services are deemed to include those who are involved in processing insurance claims, Adrian Jolly (pictured), the strategic development director of the British Damage Management Association (BDMA) noted, highlighting that the ABI’s take on this has been that this would extend into the insurers’ supply chains.

During the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, Jolly noted, insurance claims such as water damage and fire damage are not going to stop, and the BDMA is currently in the process of lobbying government on behalf of the industry to ask for property damage restoration technicians to be listed as key workers during the pandemic.

“Members remain involved in site visits, and good examples of this are the recent flooding events created by storms Ciara and Dennis,” he said. “In fact, we’ve got a number of members who are still involved in projects as a result of those incidents. Heaven forbid we have another bad weather situation, but there are going to be situations where there needs to be some sort of response to an emergency insurance claim.”

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It is on this basis that restoration technicians, restorers, and loss adjusters should be deemed essential workers, he said. The concern for Jolly is that, in the event of a greater lockdown which he believes is inevitable if the crisis continues tracking along its current trajectory, then if damage management contractors don’t have this essential worker status they will be unable to respond to any emergency situations.

The request to be listed as essential workers in the event of a greater lockdown has been driven by the BDMA at the request of its members, many of which have been asking the question of whether or not they will be able to keep restoration technicians on the road. With over 2,000 individual BDMA members, he noted, such a lockdown would put both their businesses and their customers in a difficult position.

“What we’re seeking at the moment,” he said, “would be some definitive clarity around this. As it is, if there is an imposed lockdown then we would simply not be able to respond to insurance claims emergencies. If some essential service provision is allowed then obviously we can continue to respond.”

A real concern, Jolly stated, is that that the serious flood damage situations faced by many properties in the UK due to inclement weather can take anything between six and 12 months to fully dry and then reinstate. For those floods that only happened recently, and which are in the early phases of their restoration projects, he said, in the event of a total lockdown, those properties would not be worked on for several months and the people affected will have to remain in alternative accommodation.

“That’s the concern at the moment,” he said “but I don’t think anybody within our industry would seek to underplay the importance of this. If government guidance, and this may well be the case, is a total lockdown and only emergency services are able to move in then so be it. This is just about understanding what kind of effect this will have and whether that effect can be mitigated in some way, shape or form.”

Jolly paid tribute to the members of the BDMA who he said are often on the scene of serious emergencies in a matter of hours and are often the first on-site, effectively taking over after the initial emergency. For the BDMA this has been a great opportunity to give back and highlight the work done by these members through its lobbying efforts and through providing them with guidance on how best to manage this crisis.

To support its members who are now working from home, the association has also broadened its e-learning platforms, he said, and discounted many of its e-learning modules, offering others free of charge to encourage continued learning and development at this time.

“At the end of the day, however, we can only follow the lead set by our government and the public health services because, ultimately, that’s where the final decision-making processes end,” he said. “I suspect that the effect of this on the country is going to be measured not in weeks but in months. And we can only hope that the measures that have been taken have been successful in slowing the progress of [the virus]. We fully support the measures so far, and if a total lockdown is warranted, we would fully support that as well.”