A new survey finds that seven in 10 companies which manage claims have already received litigation claims related to COVID-19, despite being in the first month of 2021.
New research conducted by Gallagher, a risk management and insurance brokerage, shows that 2021 is likely to bring a surge of litigation claims linked to COVID-19.
Data collected by claims management companies reveal that seven in 10 (70 per cent) have already received claims.
Litigation not only refers to alleged safety violations and negligence during the pandemic, but also from workers who were overworked or believe they were unfairly dismissed.
It has been predicted that claims linked to COVID-19 are set to cause litigation claims overall to rise by almost half (40 per cent), showing the significant impact that the pandemic has had on employers and employees alike.
The research further found that the majority of claims management companies had received litigation claims. However, of those who had not, over three-quarters (76 per cent) stated that they were expecting to see an increase over the next few months.
UK firms are facing a wide range of issues that are both indirectly and directly related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The most common claims were found to be lodged by employees (14 per cent) or customers (11 per cent). So far, nine per cent of the claims were linked to poor working conditions which includes a lack of PPE.
Over one in 10 (12 per cent) of claims are linked to staff feeling unsupported or overworked in the workplace. Eight per cent were discrimination cases and four per cent of claims were concerning unfair dismissals.
Additional research commissioned by Gallagher shows almost one in 10 (9 per cent) of businesses or organisations have been subject to complaints. The top three comprise of concern regarding lack of safety provisions, fear of catching the virus at the workplace and wrongful termination.
This has shown to be a significant fear for business leaders with over half (52 per cent) saying that they are “seriously concerned” that they will be sued by someone in the future who accuses them of contracting COVID-19 on their premises.
This appears to be justified as almost a third of adults in the UK (31 per cent) stated that if they caught COVID-19 from a particular place, they would consider making a claim.
Neil Hodgson, Managing Director at Gallagher Risk Management, said:
Organisations operating during COVID-19 face a variety of risks and organisations could find themselves with claims from employees, customers and third parties in the event they were put at risk or contracted COVID-19 on their premises and it can be proved they haven’t followed Government guidelines as closely as possible.
Businesses could also face claims that they have mismanaged the situation generally, which has damaged the value of the firm, or cost individuals their jobs and these types of claims can be particularly costly.
From an employer perspective, failing to take measures to safeguard staff, such as lack of PPE or defective equipment, could result in an employers’ liability claim being made.
Organisations that can prove they have kept abreast of advice and can show they have interpreted it carefully, taking into account the particular characteristics of the business and workforce, should be well-placed to defend claims.
* All data is taken from research conducted by 3Gem, between 1 December and 15 December, among 3,200 respondents including 200 claims management companies, 1,000 senior decision makers in UK businesses and 2,000 UK workers.