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This news story was published on: 16 May 2017
On March 1st, the penalties for using a mobile phone while driving were doubled. If you are caught using your mobile phone while behind the wheel, you will receive a £200 fine and six points. New drivers who have been on the road for less than two years will have their licences revoked and they will have to retake their practical and theory exams.
The penalty increase is in response to the large number of people that are killed or seriously injured every year as a result of drivers using mobile phones at the wheel. In 2015, 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured.
When Can I Use My Mobile Behind the Wheel?
Review the following guidance to ensure you follow the rules and avoid the consequences.
You are not allowed to check social media or texts if you are queuing in traffic or stopped at traffic lights.
You are not allowed to answer your mobile while driving. However, if your mobile is connected by Bluetooth, you can answer the call, but you should keep the conversation brief.
You can listen to music or podcasts on your mobile phone as long as it is in a hands-free mount or connected by Bluetooth.
You can use sat-nav on your mobile phone as long as it is mounted in a hands-free holder.
You can pull over to check your mobile phone as long as you are safely parked with the engine switched off in a lay-by.
How Does This Affect Me as a Driver?
If you are prosecuted for using your mobile phone while driving, this can impact you beyond just the fines and penalties. On average, industry research shows that your premium will increase between 20 and 29 per cent, which is more than the standard 14 per cent for speeding. In addition, nearly 30% of surveyed insurers indicated they would withdraw cover for offenders.
This news story was published on: 17 March 2017
Burst water pipes can cost thousands to businesses as well as leading to potential disruption. This article explains how you can protect your organisation should the worst happen.
If a water pipe bursts it can have a devastating effect on your organisation. No matter where it happens, escaping water can cause huge delays in day-to-day dealings, particularly when there are time-sensitive projects underway or expensive electronic equipment in use. The damage that burst pipes can cause often means an organisation is left without somewhere permanent for employees to work for days or even weeks on end.
This is something many organisations worry about as it often comes out of the blue. There are, however, a number of things you can do in order to limit the damage a burst pipe can do:
Ensure pipes are well-insulated
It is well worth checking to see if pipes and water tanks are insulated or not. Sometimes pipes are left open to the elements, but insulating them will help protect them from fluctuating temperatures and minimise the risk of bursting. It is also relatively cheap and most plumbers will be able to carry out the task.
Keep the building temperature stable
If possible, try to keep the heating on for 24 hours a day, this will keep the average temperature of the water pipes at a constant level and make it less likely that they will burst. If the building is to be left empty for an extended period of time, check the insurance policy to see if it needs to be kept above a certain temperature in order for a claim to be valid should the worst happen.
Regularly service the boiler
Ensuring the boiler is serviced regularly by a professional will help you identify any potential problems before they cause serious damage. If a boiler breaks down, particularly in the cold winter months, then pipes could be exposed to adverse weather; it is therefore always best to check the boiler is in good working order as often as possible.
Know where the water stop tap is
If a water pipe does burst, it is important to know where the water stop tap is and that it is working properly, so that leaking water can be stopped as soon as possible. It is recommended that you familiarise yourself with where the water stop tap is and how it works.
Drain the water pipes and central heating system
It may be worth considering completely draining the water pipes and central heating system of a building if it is going to be left empty and unused for a long period of time. This will completely remove the risk of pipes bursting.
Allow warm air to enter the loft
Finally, leaving a loft hatch open or ensuring there is a gap for warm air to enter and circulate around the loft will help keep pipes from freezing.
What to do if a pipe does burst
Even by following all of the above points, sometimes a burst water pipe is inevitable. If this does happen then it is best to act quickly.
Take immediate action
Once a pipe does burst, it is a race against time. Turn off the water stop tap ASAP to stop any more water from leaking and don’t forget to turn off the central heating. So long as it is safe, try to soak up as much of the leaked water as possible with whatever you have to hand and move furniture away from the flooded area. Steer clear of anything electronic that may have been damaged by the water.
Tell your insurance providers
Do not leave this task for a later time – tell your insurer about the problem at the most convenient time, as they will have specialist knowledge and be able to advise you about the best course of action. Check your insurance details to find out what is covered by your policy (emergency plumber call-outs, for example), and remember to keep invoices to pass onto them if repairs do need to be made. Do not, however, start repair proceedings before talking to your providers and discussing the next steps with them; it may be that your insurance providers prefer to use specialist firms and will potentially organise the repairs for you.
This news story was published on: 08 November 2016
The colder months can bring extreme weather conditions that have the ability to cause real damage to business premises, costing owners a small fortune in repairs as well as lost trade.
Organisations have a certain level of responsibility to keep their pavements, car parks and private land clear of hazardous ice; meaning that if a member of staff or the public were to slip, they could find themselves being sued or prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
In order to prepare themselves for the threat of ice and snow, organisations need to make sure that they are properly insured and up-to-date with the latest guidelines. With this in mind, here is some advice on how to minimise cold-weather damage before it occurs, as well as what to do if the worst does happen.
Improve your building’s energy efficiency
Search your premises thoroughly for ways that you can help to reduce heat loss, such as sealing gaps around doors and windows; covering water heaters with the recommended blankets; getting insulation for exterior walls and loft spaces; and fitting draft excluders underneath external doors.
This is ideally something that needs to be done before the winter months arrive, so that it’s not a case of ‘too little, too late.’ Prevention is the best form of protection when it comes to limiting damage caused by low temperatures, so think of it as a year-round philosophy as opposed to something you only think about when winter comes around.
Service your boiler
Your heating system will have to work harder than ever in sub-zero temperatures, which could bring out any underlying issues already present. To reduce the chances of it breaking down when you need it most, get a qualified boiler engineer to service and possibly repair your boiler earlier in the year, perhaps just after the summer. Don’t leave it until the middle of winter, when you may have to pay over the odds for an emergency call-out.
Pipes are often the first thing to be affected by cold weather, and if they freeze or break it can affect a building’s entire utility system. Protect them by insulating external pipes and those in unheated internal areas, such as basements or attics with foam or rubber tubes. These tubes should then be checked regularly, as they can erode over time.
If pipes do freeze up, locate the stop tap and switch off the water supply. Check to see if the pipe has burst, then open the affected tap so that the water can flow through as it melts. You can try warming pipes with a hairdryer or towels soaked in hot water, but do not ever use a naked flame or blowtorch to do this.
Building roofs can be damaged by the weight of heavy snow, as well as ice dams which form when a large amount of moisture freezes on the roof, and is topped with more snow. These can be a particular concern for building owners, as when build-ups of ice melt the water can leak through to the entire property.
Try to get your roof inspected a couple of times a year from ground level, as fallen debris such as slates or tiles can be signs of a potential problem. You should also pay attention to leaning chimneys, which can indicate that the roof is unstable and in need of repair. Remember: a heavy bout of snow is enough to collapse a worn-out roof.
If you are worried that there is a substantial build-up of snow on your roof, get a professional who has the right safety equipment to remove it for you.
Sometimes, the best preparation in the world is not enough; so it’s essential to have adequate insurance in place should your business be affected by heavy snowfall or ice. Building and contents insurance will cover your premises in the event of damage; while business interruption cover can make up for lost income caused by being away from the site while repairs take place.
This news story was published on: 08 November 2016
An unpredictable event, such as a flood, can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to your property and possessions. This article explains how you can protect your organisation against flooding.
Over the past few years, flooding has been one of the most devastating and commonly-occurring natural disasters in Britain, with the country suffering from at least one major flood each year.
It’s essential that organisations prepare themselves, their staff and their premises for the possibility of a flood. This can help to limit the potentially devastating effects on valuable stock and equipment; and what’s more, advance planning will save on lost time and stress should flood damage occur.
When it comes to protecting your organisation from a flood, here are some of the key questions that you need to ask yourself:
Are you at risk?
The Environmental Agency is an essential source for finding out if your premises is in an area that’s at risk of flood; simply contact them to find out, or enter your postcode into their website. You can also use their site to look at sea and river levels, meaning that you can be aware of water levels
as well as the weather at all times.
Can you be contacted about a flood warning?
If you are told that your business is at risk, the next step is signing up to receive flood warnings via the Environmental Agency’s free telephone service. This automated service operates 24 hours a day, so you should provide them with a number that you can always be reached on, such as your
mobile. You can provide your details on their website or by calling them on 0345 988 1188
Do you have a flood plan?
Having a documented flood plan at your premises is just as important as having health and safety documents available, particularly if you are a small organisation. A detailed and easy-to-read plan will make it easier to understand and communicate what to do if the worst does happen.
As well as featuring preventative action, useful contacts, a map detailing the location of service shut-off points and protective items (eg. sandbags), your plan should also include a checklist of procedures that staff can tick off, such as:
• Switch off gas and electricity supplies
• Move valuable equipment from the ground to somewhere higher
• Contact a nearby disaster recovery firm, using the directory provided in the plan
It can also be a good idea to carry out actions such as:
covering ventilation bricks; raising damp proof courses; fitting water-resistant skirting boards and non-return valves on drains and water pipes; decorating rooms with flooring tiles as opposed to fitted carpets; ensuring electrical sockets, controls, wiring and fuse-boxes are at least 1.5 metres above floor level; and fitting bathrooms and kitchens with watertight materials, not absorbent ones.
This news story was published on: 08 November 2016
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) has written to the government and called for the UK to remain in the single market in order to support UK insurance brokers.
The trade association, alongside the London Market Group (LMG) and the London and International Insurance Brokers’ Association (LIIBA), has outlined 11 key points for the government to consider following the referendum vote which saw the UK elect to leave the EU.
Biba stated in the letter that the three most important matters they want the government to consider are:
1. Remain in the single market (with passporting capacity) or have access to it with regulatory equivalence
2. The UK Regulator to be given a statutory objective in supporting international competitiveness
3. To achieve a positive solution for UK staff working in Europe and EU nationals working at our member firms in the UK
The letter said of the single market and passporting: “The ability to passport both into (to obtain customers) and out of the EU (to use EU insurers to increase competition and choice for customers) is critical to maintaining the level of trade that the UK currently benefits from.”
Biba stated in the letter: “Many of our member firms enjoy the benefits of tariff-free cross-border trade within the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA).
“Partly as a result of this freedom, the UK is the third largest insurance market in the world and enjoys a balance of trade surplus in insurance-based products.p.
“Much of this will be at risk if the UK were to lose the ability to trade freely with the EU.”
On regulation, the letter read: “In a post-Brexit economy, regulation will be an even bigger factor for foreign investors in deciding where to place capital investment and it is vital that our regulatory regime helps the UK actively compete.”
The 11 issues of concern explained in the document were the single market and passporting; equivalence regime; the imperative of UK regulatory reform; captive insurance arrangements; maintaining employment opportunities; motor insurance cover; travel insurance; acquisition activity – HM Government must ensure that barriers are not raised against UK brokers looking to acquire EU domiciled businesses; under-insurance risk for customers; taxation; and, opportunities with trade credit insurance.
A key request from the association was that Government to consider tax exemptions and relief that would benefit UK business.
It also said of regulation: “To continue the free flow of business between the EU and the UK, it is important that our regulatory regimes remain comparable. This must be agreed regardless of Brexit…”
This news story was published on: 29 July 2016