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Schools and residential trip providers fear they will no longer be covered by insurance for visits cancelled because of coronavirus.

After changes last week, advice on the Association of British Insurers website no longer says schools will be covered for the loss of trips.

It now says schools should “seek a refund from the venue”.

The ABI says the advice was amended to reflect exclusions in policies as the pandemic continues.

Outdoor education centres across the UK have been closed since March under government coronavirus restrictions.

Last week providers wrote to the prime minister asking him to save outdoor education, which they said “faces an existential threat”.

Advising schools to ask for refunds rather than claim on their insurance for cancelled trips is another blow, according to Vanessa Fox, chief executive of the charity Farms for City Children.

Ms Fox says she spotted changes to the ABI’s Frequently Asked Questions section last week after following a link from the Department for Education website.

She told the BBC she had copied and pasted the section into an email to a colleague on 6 October.

At the time it promised: “In general, most schools will be covered under their insurance policy.”

The guidance advised schools to first seek a refund from the venue or tour provider – but said if the venue could no longer host the trip “because of official government guidance, the closure of the venue, or their reluctance to accept school trips due to their stated concerns about the spread of coronavirus, the school will be covered”.

However, she says the following day, the mention of cover had disappeared, with the answer just saying “the school should seek a refund from the venue”.

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ABI website

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The guidance changed overnight, says Vanessa Fox

State Farm Ranks Highest in Individual Life Insurance; Nationwide, New York Life Tie for Highest in Annuity

Even as deaths associated with COVID-19 eclipse 200,000 in the United States, consumers don’t seem motivated to buy life insurance and life insurance customers are largely apathetic toward their insurer despite some standout performances. According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study,SM released today, a combination of infrequent client communications and a pervasive perception of high cost and transaction complexity have suppressed consumer interest and customer satisfaction with life insurance providers.

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J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study (Graphic: Business Wire)

“The life insurance industry has a significant perception problem because, in the throes of a pandemic, consumers naturally should be more engaged with their insurer—but they aren’t,” said Robert M. Lajdziak, senior consultant of insurance intelligence at J.D. Power. “We’ve been observing a trend for several years that customer satisfaction with life insurance companies starts declining the moment a policy is purchased and continues to decline throughout the relationship due to a lack of policyholder contact from most insurers. The fact that insurers and agents have not been able to reverse this trend during a historic global pandemic speaks to the depth of the challenge the industry faces. Life insurance providers need to dramatically ratchet up their client communications efforts and demonstrate their value to their end customers—not just to advisors and sales representatives.”

Following are some key findings of the 2020 study:

  • Life insurance customer satisfaction flat year over year: The overall customer satisfaction score for life insurance providers is 763 (on a 1,000-point scale), up just two points from 2019. Annuity customer satisfaction increases to 778, also just two points higher than in 2019.

  • Customer

“I do feel very sorry for younger people in this business,” says Malik Karim, the founder of Fenchurch Advisory Partners.

“This is a relationship business. It is a business where you learn talking to people or sitting alongside people or listening to their calls. But the young people who are starting and have been thinking about coming to the office are going to be stuck at home.”

Karim, 59, is one of very few people working from Fenchurch’s new offices in 110 Bishopsgate, the 46-floor skyscraper that towers over Liverpool Street station. This year was supposed to mark the next phase of development for the business, an investment banking boutique that specialises in financial services. Instead, Karim is working hard to keep his team together.

“It’s all our problem,” he says. “We have to find a new way of working and staying in touch. We can’t have 330 people on a Zoom call having a drink together. Even eight is hard. So however the next few months work out, it is going to be disruptive.”

Yet deals are being done. Fenchurch is advising the mutual insurer LV= on its potential buy-out by the private equity firm Bain. Karim’s team is also helping the Post Office examine the options for its insurance business. Fenchurch has done 10 deals so far in 2020, including the £1.7bn buy-out of Hastings, and expects to complete more even as coronavirus restrictions tighten and the economic recovery is cut off.

Hunt for talent

The firm is part of the long-standing trend in investment banking towards specialist boutiques that can provide advice free of the potential conflicts of big banks. The giants of the City and Wall Street want to provide financing as well as advice.

Karim left that world when he was sacked by Credit Suisse

Nervous investors have bought more than 1,000 tonnes of gold this year, a record figure equivalent to the entire hoard the Swiss National Bank has stashed away in its vaults.

For centuries people have considered gold a store of value in turbulent times. In 2020 they have been buying it in droves.

Gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) recorded their tenth consecutive month of positive inflows in September for only the third time since the financial crisis. This was despite gold experiencing its biggest monthly price drop since November 2016, falling 3.6%, after reaching a new all-time high in August.

With concerns mounting about the outcome of the upcoming U.S. election and a second wave of coronavirus infections, will the precious metal retain its lustre in the fourth quarter?

Investors certainly believe so. Figures this week from the World Gold Council (WGC) show globally, they have poured $55.7 billion into gold ETFs this year. ETF managers have had to buy 1,003 tonnes of the metal to meet rising demand, smashing the 2009 peak of 646 tonnes and taking inventories up to a record 3,880 tonnes or $235 billion.

This wall of money helped push the gold price up to a new high of $2,075 an ounce in early August. Despite the pullback in September, the yellow metal ended the third quarter up 6%, its eighth straight quarter of price gains. Gold is now up more than 20% this year, way ahead of the S&P 500’s gains.

The WGC believes last month’s price fall was “likely tactical in nature”, resulting mainly from profit-taking and rebalancing around the quarter-end.

Global investors still increased their gold exposure by 7%, or $4.6 billion, overall in September.

Anxious American investors have been


Alarm: Chandlers Lane

A resident called police at 10:56 p.m. Oct. 4 about hearing an unknown alarm. She wasn’t sure whether it was from a car or house. She said she heard a loud bang prior to the alarm starting to sound. Police went to the location to find the source of the alarm. Someone stopped them and said it was coming from the back of the property. At 11:15 p.m. they found a personal flashing alarm devise that someone threw on one of the balconies. They disabled it but realized there was another in the area. That alarm was on the lawn. They also disabled it one as well.

Speeding: Bagley Road

An officer stopped a motorist on Lynway Avenue at 7:54 a.m. Oct. 1 for speeding within a school zone.

Solicitor complaint: River Road

A resident called police at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 3 that someone was aggressively trying to get her to answer her door. The suspect was ringing the doorbell nonstop. A bit later when she went out to get the mail, the man started yelling at her to come toward him to talk to him. He was at the neighbor’s house. The man arrived in the area in a large gray van that had a rack on the top. The woman went back inside her house. The man came over again and started ringing her doorbell again. She said the knocking finally stopped, but wants the man to leave.

Welfare Check: Raintree Boulevard

Police received a call from a woman Oct. 1 who said an employee at their Richmond Heights workplace did not show up for work again. No one had heard from her all week and they were concerned. An officer went to the worker’s home where he heard a dog