5th October 2020

Protective Vehicle Screens – An impact on your insurance cover?

By Colin Powell
Account Handler

Over the last few weeks, with the reintroduction of local lockdowns and fears of a second spike, many of you continue to enquire about the installation of protective screening, from permanent installations to temporary Perspex or PVC plastic screens, and how this could possibly impact on your insurance coverage.

As a specialist provider of insurance to the funeral director profession, I wanted to take this opportunity to address some frequently asked questions with you to clearly outline our approach to the subject. Hopefully, this is useful advice which you can take forward with your own insurance provider.

Q: I am thinking of having a screen installed. Is this considered a notifiable modification to the vehicle in the eyes of the insurer and do I have to notify them every time a screen is installed?

A: The installation of an additional item to the fabric of any vehicle which was not present in, or on, the vehicle beforehand, would ordinarily be considered a modification to the vehicle and would therefore need to be notified. This might not always be the case, however. For example, our insurer partners, NIG, have confirmed that there is a genuine requirement for dividing screens to be installed in your vehicles for the ongoing safety of your drivers and your passengers, and to ensure that you are able to continue to service your clients as effectively as possible, and therefore they do not require notification from you about the installation of screens.

Check your modification declaration requirements with your own insurance provider if you are thinking of installing a screen, or have recently done so. If you’re not sure, always speak to your insurer.

Q: I have installed a protective screen and I worry that the screen itself may cause additional injury to passengers in the event of an incident taking place. What can I do?

A: It is particularly difficult to give a definitive answer to this question as there are always so many unique variants to the claims made on UK roads. NIG advise that they would treat claims involving dividing screens very much in the same way that they would do for an air bag being deployed, for example, and any settlement for injury would only be made once they were certain that there were no contributory factors to the injury itself, such as not wearing a seat belt. The overriding concern is the general safety of all occupants in your vehicle, and insurers will deal with each claim for injury in its own right, should the worst occur.  

Q: How often should the screen be sanitised and can we be found liable for not doing so if a passenger contracts the virus?

A:  You will all have received advice from the Government and trade associations regarding best practice when it comes to sanitising your vehicles after use. Regarding liability if a passenger contracts the virus whilst in your vehicle, they would need to prove that the virus was indeed contracted in your vehicle, evidencing your negligence. If best practices are being followed, with mitigating measures taken such as the installation of dividing screens, this would be valuable evidence in your defence, so you should notify your insurer promptly should any allegation be made.

Q: The screen has become badly damaged, is there insurance cover for its replacement?

A: In short, yes. The damage sustained to the screen will have to be fortuitous, unforeseen and not as a result of general wear and tear but the insurers would deal with the claim for a replacement screen, subject to policy excess.

I very much hope that this addresses some concerns you may have about protective screening.  I encourage you all to have conversations with your insurance providers if you have any other questions. I can also be contacted on 0208 256 4927 or at [email protected] should you wish to speak to me.