The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially increased the severity of COVID-19 from an outbreak to a pandemic. The United States has over 1,000 confirmed cases and at least 30 deaths that have been attributed to COVID-19. Worldwide there have been more than 120,000 cases reported and over 4,000 deaths.

With more than 100 countries affected, some drastic steps are being taken to contain COVID-19 and limit the number of cases and deaths. All across our nation, we are seeing schools and universities shifting to online learning environments or prolonging spring breaks, sporting events are being canceled, and entertainment venues are shutting their doors.

So what does all of this mean for you and your business? Here are some of the most common questions we have been receiving when it comes to COVID-19 and your business insurance.

“Is there business income coverage if a governmental authority requires businesses to close?”

  • According to Chris Boggs, Executive Director of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, “No, there is no business income coverage.” Why? Well, before business income responds there must be damage to the property leading to the cessation of a business. This requirement applies to the business income supply chain (property you are dependent on for supplies) losses and civil authority losses covered by business income policies. This is true of “standard” business income forms and while there may be proprietary forms that respond, these are very rare.
  • While the industry is coming up with new coverage forms that may provide coverage, no carrier that we are aware of has agreed to now provide the coverage for the current Coronavirus problem.

“What makes an illness an occupational illness?” or “How does or might workers’ compensation respond to the Coronavirus?”

  • According to Chris Boggs, Executive Director of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, two tests must be satisfied before any illness or disease, including the Coronavirus, qualifies as compensable under workers compensation:
    • The illness or disease must be occupational, “meaning that it arose out of and was in the course and scope of the employment
    • The illness or disease must arise out of or be caused by conditions peculiar” to the work.
  • To determine whether an injury arises out of and in the course and scope of employment, ask yourself: was the employee benefiting the employer when exposed to the illness or disease? Understand that this is subject to the interpretations and intricacies of various state laws.

Does the Coronavirus Create a Workers Compensation Exposure?

  • According to Boggs, the short answer is not likely. Other than the fact that the Coronavirus is currently garnering intense attention, in most cases, it is no more occupational than the flu. Only if it is proven that the employee has an increased risk of contracting the virus due to the peculiarity of his or her job, might the Coronavirus be considered occupational and thus compensable? As noted earlier, healthcare workers may be able to prove the necessary peculiarity being face-to-face with sick people ALL day to assert a compensable injury.

 

If you are unsure of your coverage or how it relates to COVID-19, please feel free to give us a call at 877-GANNONS to speak with one of our agents today.

 

An additional resource for our commercial clients at this time from the Small Business Administration regarding Guidance and Loan Resources is here.