The disruption to business and everyday life caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is resulting in an economic impact for insureds. With hourly announcements from health agencies calling for social distancing, school closings, business restrictions and event cancellations, current news reports indicate the crisis will get worse before it gets better.
Property policies are triggered by physical loss and/or damage to insured property. Since the virus is not a covered peril nor does it cause direct physical loss or damage to covered property, carriers will likely say no cover. Property policies can cover fortuitous events, but this event is generally excluded under standard policy exclusions (delay of market, loss of use or indirect/remote loss or damage). Most policies contain a contamination exclusion which includes virus, disease or illness causing agents within the definition of contaminant. ISO policies, specific carrier forms and most manuscripts do not cover losses resulting from virus.
By definition, the Commercial General Liability Policy (CGL) “provides coverage to a business for bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage caused by the business’ operations, products, or injury that occurs on the business’ premises” for which the insured is legally liable. Liability for COVID-19 or any similar outbreak could arise out of an insured’s failure to protect individuals and or their property against infection of such viruses. ID-19.
At this time, Workers Compensation carriers are handling coronavirus claims in the same manner as the standard flu. Under most states’ Workers’ Compensation statutes, employees are entitled to benefits for “occupational diseases,” while “ordinary diseases of life” that the general public is equally exposed to are typically excluded. This means that COVID-19 claims are non-compensable unless the claimant works in a vulnerable field such as healthcare and can prove the illness was contracted at work or while traveling for work. As COVID-19 becomes more widespread, this burden of proof will become increasingly difficult.
Insureds could see COVID-19 losses in many professional areas. Medical professionals in both hospitals and senior care facilities are on the front lines of handling patients infected with COVID-19, making them vulnerable to failure to protect patients, misdiagnosis, health practice quarantines, ceasing operations due to an outbreak on premises, etc. Hackers are taking advantage of public fear by using emails to trick people into clicking news links that lead to malware downloads as well as attempting to breach the networks and databases of health care agencies.
What Is ML Cutler Doing?
At this time, the staff at ML Cutler is fully functional on a remote basis. We are dedicated to working with our clients to get through this unprecedented, difficult time together. For more information, please read the letter from our President, Jim Mignone.
This article is based on insight from our friends at AMWins