In most policies, business interruption coverage will only pay out if there has been a direct physical loss under the property section of the policy. In the case of Coronavirus here are some things to think through:
Event Cancellation Insurance
We’re starting to see governments enforce the cancellation of events, particularly large music festivals, such as South by Southwest, and quite a few other major events for the 2020 calendar.
Defense Base Act (DBA) Workers Compensation
All US contractors and subcontractors who work on military bases overseas are required to buy Defense Base Act Workers’ Compensation insurance. Regarding disease, a DBA policy states “Bodily injury by disease must be caused or aggravated by the conditions of your employment.” Courts have generally taken a broad view of what should be covered by DBA laws and by extension, DBA insurance.
Foreign Voluntary Workers Compensation
Policies typically cover disease caused or aggravated by employment outside of the US. In addition, policies cover endemic disease. Malaria is a classic example of an endemic disease in various parts of the world.
An insurance company could take the position that:
Our hope is that If an employee contracts the disease while outside of their home country, while on business travel, it should be considered ‘caused or aggravated by’ their employment. We hope to see insurance companies backing claims, but until then, only time and possible legal battles will clarify every carrier’s position
Personal Accident and Business Travel Accident policies are excellent supplementary medical options as we all know. Most of the medical claims that may come under these sorts of policies will likely be covered. Evacuation extensions or policies, however, are a different animal entirely that only trigger in specific situations. Insurers working with crisis management companies to evacuate their clients may run into major difficulties. In situations such as Coronavirus, this becomes nearly impossible for two main reasons:
1. Evacuations will be subject to the approval of authorities in both the originating and receiving country and subsequently become logistical nightmares. As soon as governments become involved, for example Italy restricting travel, it becomes almost impossible for these companies to perform evacuations.
2. Evacuations are generally only performed because of a dire situation, such as needing medical care that cannot be provided locally. A client wishing to be home due to panic will likely be rejected.
Reaching out to a crisis management group could be a good place to receive advice. We’d recommend checking with your own carriers to learn more about how they may plan to respond.
As this epidemic continues to spread, please stay informed by checking the WHO and CDC websites regularly. You can also join us in compulsively refreshing John Hopkin’s live heat map. As the situation continues to change at breakneck speeds, we will send any additional updates out as we receive them. If you have heard from any carriers, insureds, or have any industry news, please reach out, we’d love to learn more.