Expectations for how general insurance firms should deal with customers during the coronavirus pandemic have been set out today by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The City watchdog also provided information for consumers about what they should see from their insurance provider, covering topics including travel, motor and home, and private medical insurance. It also provided clarification in relation to suspension of products and policy renewals.

For insurers it comments: "We expect firms to consider very carefully the needs of their customers and show flexibility in their treatment of them. We are likely to see customers’ behaviours change because of the pandemic. For example, this could mean that customers may need to work from home or commute by car. We would not expect to see their ability to claim impacted by circumstances over which they have little control.

"We expect firms to clearly communicate any policy exclusions that may impact the cover and use of individual policies. This applies both to new sales or changes to existing policies (either mid-term or at renewal) – they must clearly meet consumers’ demands and needs."

Separate advice for consumers explains how the virus could impact travel insurance, and warns of scams relating to financial services generally.

Christopher Woolard, interim chief executive of the FCA said: "We have already seen some firms make significant efforts in difficult operating conditions. We expect all firms to be clear and not misleading whenever they communicate and be fair and professional in how they deal with their customers.  

"Customer behaviour is changing. We expect insurance firms to recognise this and treat their customers fairly, recognising the circumstances customers may find themselves in. We would not expect to see a customer’s ability to claim affected by circumstances over which they have little control.

"Any customer concerned about their insurance should consider contacting their provider with any questions they may have."