Covid-19 Briefing note
The priority of the Government at present is to contain the spread of the virus by isolation. This involves physical locations being locked down and those known or suspected of having the virus being locked in. Voluntary measures are also being taken by event organisers to support this.
If this strategy fails to sufficiently contain the spread, the Government has announced it will ask people who can to work from home.
Should this, in turn, fail and the virus does not have a limited life cycle like flu, then we may have a new normal to contend with.
For now the prime duty of organisations is to their staff, visitors and residents. Mortality rates from the virus indicate this is particularly relevant for the elderly and those with respiratory conditions or with compromised immune systems.
Consensus appears to be that organisations who can facilitate working from home should rehearse this lest a location, building or transport is restricted; or, so that if staff present symptoms, or suspicion thereof, they can self-isolate.
This could be for a period of weeks or months rather than days, so thought should also be given to staff working from home from a Health and Safety, IT security and resilience perspective.
Additionally employers need to be mindful of the mental health effect of stress from fear of the unknown.
A couple of particularly well thought out advice notes can be found below, one from ACAS in the UK and one from CDC in the USA.
Travel insurance policies will pay if you contract Covid-19 while abroad and require treatment, provided that you have not deliberately entered an area the Foreign Office advises against travel
Most policies will also reimburse you if you need to cancel your trip because the location you are going to is in an area where the Foreign Office advises against travel, provided you booked the trip before you were aware of the outbreak at your destination. (Voluntary cancellation is not insured)
The BIBA website is being kept up to date on travel issues
Interruption to your revenue, operations or events
To date, those most affected appear to be businesses dependent on imports from the Far East, particularly those who rely on just-in-time stock delivery, such as fashion and the motor industries.
However factories are beginning to return to work in China and anecdotally from our clients we hear concerns are easing.
Those most likely to be affected by a major containment exercise in the UK, similar to Northern Italy, will be those dependent on people being physically present to create revenue, or deliver service.
This could apply particularly to shops, visitor attractions, events, hotels and residential homes and private schools.
A few areas of insurance recognise this risk in their policies and provide cover following both a contagious disease and a public authority closing a location (note the double trigger).
This wording is common in many hotels, schools and care home wordings.
However, it seems unlikely if there were an outbreak within a care home the public authority would close it, as they would have to house the residents elsewhere which would be counter-intuitive to a strategy of containment.
Event policies, and some other more modern business interruption policies provide cover for what they describe as “business interruption in the absence of damage to the property”.
Most of these policies are drafted with an exclusion of claims for pandemic type events, which are generally not insured, in a similar way that war is not insured.
There is a small possibility some of these extensions to modern policies may respond due to technical drafting language gaps, despite it being clear that underwriters had no intention to provide cover. Other than event policies, extensions to cover such occurrences are normally to low limits.
We hope the briefing note is helpful and please note that this is generic advice and all policies vary in their wordings.
We hope the briefing note is helpful and please note that this is generic advice for our client base, and all policies vary in their wordings.
To better understand your particular policy wording and its application please call us on +44 (0)1923 222211
Innovation Broking is a specialist insurance broker arranging insurance for a range of upper mid-market clients based in the United Kingdom, many with global operations.