The death of Diana, Princess of Wales. 9/11. The Boxing Day tsunami: Our subconscious is littered with poignant dates that shaped the world, and many others beside them that are deeply personal. Forever etched with the when, our whereabouts and what we were doing.
Coronavirus COVID-19 will make that list too. For the coach and bus industry, Thursday 12 March will be marked as a day that is long remembered for desperate news on what the government was going to do next, progressing from the contain to delay phase of the current pandemic.
The following week was worrying for all. Schools closed indefinitely from Friday 20 March and private hire, tours and holiday diaries were torn up across the country.
It was almost as if we had a week or so head start on what was coming.
There have been many stories of the number of vehicles being parked with SORN declarations in place. For each one, there is a conversation and a procedure for us as insurance brokers, and further reciprocated by an insurer.
While there has been some negative press for one or two commercial insurers over their handling of business interruption claims, it would be irresponsible to portray coach and bus insurers and the wider insurance community as anything but sympathetic.
The Wrightsure Insurance Group put its disaster recovery strategy in place from Monday 23 March. From that date, 99% of staff were working from home. Seven UK hubs became 90, seamlessly keeping 45 years of independent insurance broking operational.
Insurance is a people business. At every level throughout the Group, staff have been working above and beyond the call of duty. All the training and planning in the world could never have prepared us for such an extraordinary situation.
With each notification of a portion of a fleet, or a fleet in its entirety, being parked came another heart-breaking conversation with a first-, second- or third-generation business that was padlocking the gate.
Yes, we are first and foremost insurance intermediaries. But for the coach and bus industry, we have in the last six weeks also been business advisors, mentors, counsellors and above all, friends to our clients. Those attributes will enhance our relationship with the industry for many years.
For all Wrightsure Group clients, and the probable 10,000 vehicles that we have processed as SORN in the last six weeks; the hotels that are closed; the much-needed respite of a coach holiday cancelled for our most vulnerable: We are sincere in our wish that we have been there for you.
For all the operators that have joined the Wrightsure family in the same period, and where perhaps the insurance industry has failed you in some way, welcome and thank you for trusting us.
For any operators that are worried that their voice is not being heard at this difficult time, and who need an additional level of protection for their business, our door is open.
To all operators, tour organisers and hoteliers across the country, we are here and we are listening. We will do everything we can to assist you through this devastating period and be ready for when our great industry can get back to doing what it does best.
Wrightsure Insurance Group