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By: Erin Lamb
The worldwide spread of COVID-19 is creating financial difficulties for individuals and businesses affected by illness and cancellations. Based on the evolving data, predictions are being made about the sources of claims under various insurance coverages.
The disease caused by the virus disproportionately kills people over 70-80 years old. In China, the estimated fatality rate for people over 80 is roughly 21.9%. The virus seems to spread relatively easily, and people can be asymptomatic for 5-14 days, during which time the affected person is a carrier of the virus itself.
These numbers seem to indicate nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and rehabilitation centers are at high risk of fatalities and at increased risk of infections. Workers’ compensation claims from nurses, doctors, health aides, and the myriad non-health care related workers at such facilities are expected to rise. Patients, families, contract employees, and other third parties may complain about inadequate warnings and failure to prevent the spread of infection.
Some commercial liability policies exclude coverage for damages arising from bodily injury caused by exposure to viruses, bacteria, or pollutants. The parties will need to determine when and where the infections occurred, how they were transmitted, and whether transmission was in the course and scope of employment as the virus moves outside healthcare facilities and into the community.
Health care facilities and other large communities of people, such as schools, universities, and houses of worship, where a coronavirus patient will be discovered to have traveled are going to require disinfection and cleaning. Not every policy provides coverage for such measures relating to COVID-19, and those that do may have terms and conditions such as written notification to both the insurance company and the local department of public health, high deductibles, or sublimits.
Businesses that do not encounter infected people will also be reviewing their insurance coverage. Some travel cancellation and travel interruption insurance policies do not cover cancellations of travel due to a disinclination to travel due to fear or concern about traveling to a place with an outbreak. Event cancellation and business interruption coverages also may contain exclusions.
Most people and entities will be checking to see whether and, if so, the extent to which they have successfully transferred their risk of loss due to the worldwide effects of COVID-19. It is important to understand the facts as well as the terms and conditions of each insurance policy that may apply.
If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Erin Lamb at [email protected].