Brokers expecting corporate hospitality for the race were left disappointed

Brokers hoping to enjoy RSA’s corporate hospitality at the Cheltenham Festival were left stunned when no one from the insurer turned up due to fears over exposing staff to coronavirus fears, Insurance Times can reveal.

RSA sponsors the 14:10 Novices’ Chase, held yesterday on the first day of the horse-racing festival, but brokers told Insurance Times that corporate hospitality was withdrawn for the event with less than a day’s warning, due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The 14:10 Cheltenham RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase had 10 runners and was held on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. It was won by Nicky Henderson-trained eight-year old Champ ridden by Barry Geraghty.

A broker said “frankly we think it’s appalling that we’ve been left like this”.

The Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall presented the medal for the winner of the race, which has been sponsored by RSA for 46 years.

RSA told Insurance Times that “the safety and welfare of our employees is paramount and, due to the developing situation in relation to coronavirus, we took the difficult decision not to attend Cheltenham this year.

”Our sponsorship of course stood and our congratulations to the winner of the RSA Novices’ Chase, Champ.”

The insurer said it was taking a range of measures to mitigate the risk of its staff contracting coronavirus, including limiting employee attendance of external events. The decision not to attend Cheltenham was part of this.

It added that a number of attendees had pulled out of its hospitality beforehand, and all guests had been contacted.

Yesterday RSA confirmed to Insurance Times that it was assessing whether or not customers could claim for coronavirus losses on their business interruption policies on a case-by-case basis, as other insurers including Aviva admitted that it could not provide such cover.

RSA is one of several insurers to be rolling back on external meetings to protect staff.

An RSA spokesperson told Insurance Times on Monday: “We are following government advice as well as putting safeguards in place around international travel to help our employees stay safe.

“We have robust business continuity plans in place to ensure we can continue to support our customers should employees be required to adopt a different way of working for a period of time.

“We will be watching the situation closely and will evolve our guidance as required.”