Does standard business interruption insurance provide cover for businesses who are not able to operate due to the effects of Covid-19?
Business insurance policies are designed to cover standard risks and are therefore unlikely to provide cover for the effects of global pandemics like Covid-19. This includes forced closure by the authorities. Businesses may have chosen to purchase cover that will specifically provide for business interruption arising from notifiable or infectious diseases. For certain notifiable disease extensions, cover may apply if other policy conditions are met. However, this type of extension is not commonly included as standard. Furthermore, the likely costs to businesses of cover that includes more unusual risks – such as those posed by new diseases – would be prohibitive. Businesses who are concerned about the impacts of Covid-19 should check the scope of their cover with the insurance company or broker.
Does a ‘notifiable disease’ extension cover my business for Covid-19?
Most notifiable disease extensions tend to cover specific diseases that will be named in the cover. If Covid-19 is not specified, then cover may not apply. Some notifiable disease extensions are more general and do not specify certain diseases. In these cases, business interruption cover for Covid-19 may apply if it is present in the business. If you are unsure about what your policy covers, check with your broker or the insurer if you purchased it directly.
Are there any other extensions to business interruption that may provide cover?
Some coverage may exist if the business has purchased a ‘non-damage, denial of access’ extension to a business interruption policy. Again, purchase of these extensions tends to be rare and this is not generally covered under standard business interruption policies. Generally, ‘denial of access’ cover applies to cordoned off areas and loss of trade resulting from a denial of access to premises. If a business is forced to close or is told to close by an appropriate authority or is cordoned off, this could trigger a claim under a ‘non-damage, denial of access’ business interruption extension if the infectious disease cover is unspecified or if it includes Covid-19.
Here is some advice from HIES
Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard policies are dependent on damage to property and will generally exclude pandemics. However, we strongly recommend businesses check to see if cover applies for Covid-19 and if so, the specific terms and conditions that apply. Insurance policies can differ significantly, so we’d encourage you to contact your broker or insurer who will be able to help.
If you do have insurance that covers Covid-19, your insurance company is likely to use a Loss Adjuster to represent them. We would strongly advise businesses who have cover in place, to access specialist advice in helping them to prepare, present and negotiate claims. At HIES, we can help with the claims process and can arrange access to a Loss Adjusting service, should you need independent advice regarding complex, major or difficult claims.
To find out more about this specialist service, contact Scott Robinson our Commercial Director via firstname.lastname@example.org