On Coronavirus: Insurance Guidance
March 20, 2020
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As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to develop, many people are naturally looking toward their insurance policies to see what type and levels of cover they have in place, should they need to call on insurance in these unprecedented times. The simple advice is to check your own policy wording and speak to your insurer, or broker if you have one. In the meantime, I thought it would be helpful to provide a brief overview of the types of policies you may have and whether or not they are likely to offer protection.
It is highly unlikely that any standard business insurance, which most typically covers things like floods, fire, damage and theft, will provide any protection against global pandemics such as Coronavirus. Some policies may well have bolt on clauses that cover business interruption as a result of named diseases; check your policy for ‘notifiable disease’ and speak to your insurance partner.
If employees cannot enter your premises, I’d also advise you to check for any add-ons you may have for ‘restricted/denial of access’, or ‘non-damaged business interruption clauses. These may well trigger some cover if your business has been forced to close following any intervention.
What I think it is important to say is that these are unprecedent times and insurers will be considering how they respond on a case by case basis – so do speak to them.
Trade Credit Insurance
This policy is designed to cover you if a customer cannot pay for goods or services due to insolvency or late payment. Again, insurers seem to be adopting a case-by-case approach to this, setting out specific conditions for credit limits and claims. Yet again, it’s time to check with your insurer.
Employers’ and Public Liability
Of course, these policies are restricted to providing cover for injuries. Coronavirus is forcing employers to make some tough decisions that could lead to legal liability further down the track. Please make sure you follow the advice of the government and authorities in your decision making. We are still working out whether an insurer may pay out of these types of policies. You’ve guessed it; talk to your insurance partner.
Initial indications are that because working from home is clerical in its nature, your home insurance will not be affected. However, if you don’t normally work from home and you now meet clients there you should check with your insurer that you are okay to do this. What would happen if someone had an accident in your home and you were not covered?
Any business equipment is unlikely to be covered, but an employer is likely to have adequate cover for this. Finally, if you are stuck abroad right now and your home is
unoccupied for more than your policy allows, we fully expect insurers to be sympathetic, but please check with them.
Alas, ATOL do not look at claims for pandemics, but insurers may offer some comfort; they will differentiate between cancellations and government directives. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel for 30 days, so your insurer should cover you if you have appropriate travel disruption cover.
Please do be aware that if you travel in spite of FCO advice and you suffer a loss you will not be covered. If you are already quarantined overseas your insurer should cover medical treatment and any repatriation expenses after the period of quarantine.
Finally, these things are changing by the day, so please keep an eye out for FCO announcements.
Income Protection Insurance
You may have your own policy or be part of an employer’s one. They are always subject to a qualifying period, but those can vary in length. Whether you are covered is very much dependent on that. What is clear though is that if you are merely self-isolating you will not be able to claim for loss of earnings.
As you will have seen, there is no easy answer to whether or not your various insurance policies will offer you protection during the Coronavirus outbreak. The conclusion is therefore pretty simple; get in contact with your insurance partner and see where you stand.