Most insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as Coronavirus ie. COVID-19.
However according to the UK Government, “those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms and conditions of their policy).”
Every insurance policy is different, so the key is getting in touch with your provider as soon as possible, to assess your cover, make sure you meet any notification requirements and are front of the queue for any support.
Notifiable diseases are certain infectious diseases that registered medical practitioners have a statutory duty to notify the ‘proper officer’ at their local council or local health protection team about when they come across a suspected case.
On the 5th March 2020, the government added COVID-19 to the list of notifiable diseases.
Many insurers use diseases on this list as triggers for the activation or exclusion of insurance cover. For example, insurers’ policies that cover notifiable diseases will typically only cover a specific subset of notifiable diseases, your insurer will reference in the policy documentation. These policies will exclude any notifiable disease not on the insurers list, as well as future/unknown diseases (such as COVID-19).
Unspecified notifiable diseases
You may have purchased add-ons for your insurance that cover for ‘unspecified notifiable diseases’. These policies effectively cover any disease listed as a notifiable disease, enabling the business to claim for losses for all notifiable diseases as well as from diseases that are unknown at the point the policy is produced.
The effect of the government adding COVID-19 to its list of notifiable diseases is to ensure that businesses with unspecified notifiable disease cover are able to make a claim subject to their own particular requirements. For example, they may state that someone infected with COVID-19 may need to have been on the premises.
Government ordered closure
The government asked a number of different businesses and venues to remain closed from 21st of March onwards.
Insurers have agreed that this advice is sufficient for businesses covered for COVID-19 losses to make a claim (if the only barrier to them making a claim was a lack of clarity on whether the government had ordered businesses to close).
However, most businesses’ commercial insurance policies (including for denial of access) are unlikely to offer cover for COVID-19. You must check with your provide as soon as possible.
According to the Government, “Businesses with event cancellation policies that include unspecified notifiable disease extensions should be able to make a claim for the necessary and unavoidable cancellation, abandonment, curtailment, postponement and disruption of their event for reasons beyond the control of organisers and participants (subject to the other terms and exclusions of their policy).”
The key with all of this is to make contact as soon as possible to find out your situation, as it will have wider implications for your business and your contingency operations. There are also a lot of other businesses doing the same thing, so you need to get into the system as fast as possible to be further towards the front of the queue and also start what could be a lengthy process early.
As always, any questions, get in touch.