With everything happening to stop the spread of COVID-19, many facets of normal life have been impacted.
Businesses are still shut down or having their employees work from home. Many restaurants are now offering takeout and delivery when they otherwise wouldn’t. You’d have a hard time finding anyone whose sense of normalcy hasn’t been affected in some way.
As a society we’re all trying to figure out how to exist in the new normal. There are many things to think about with these many changes, and insurance is no exception.
Here are some of the questions we’ve been asked regarding COVID-19:
What can I do if I’m out of work and unable to pay my bill?
Your insurance carrier may be able to postpone your bill. You won’t be able to get free insurance or have your bill waived. But many carriers are offering a grace period for those impacted by the coronavirus. Call your agent or your insurance carrier to see what options may be available.
I’m using my own vehicle to deliver food, will my insurance cover me if I am in an accident?
If you have your car insured on a normal personal auto insurance policy, it likely won’t extend coverage if you’re in an accident while out on a delivery. Most personal auto policies don’t cover delivery. Ask your agent about what your options are if you’ll be delivering, even temporarily.
If you are delivering for a company like DoorDash or Uber Eats, you may be able to add an endorsement to your policy that will extend coverage. Every situation is unique, so be sure to talk to a licensed agent about your policy. Don’t make an assumption that could leave you without coverage in an accident.
We may be able to write a commercial auto policy for you if you’ll be using your vehicle for delivery during this unique time. Give us a call or request a quote and we can provide some options to make sure you have coverage.
I own a restaurant that is temporarily offering delivery services, does my commercial insurance cover that?
Most restaurant insurance doesn’t cover delivery. Before ramping up your delivery operations, call your agent and ask if you have coverage or if it’s something you can add to your policy.
If one of my employees is in an accident while delivering, does that fall under Workers’ Compensation?
It’s impossible to say for sure without examining a situation on a case by case basis. But anytime an employee is injured in the course of their work there is the potential of Workers’ Compensation paying for their injuries. If your restaurant or business didn’t previously offer delivery, you likely need to make some changes to your Workers’ Compensation policy to ensure coverage will extend. Call your agent or insurance company ASAP to get the right coverage in place.
You’ll also want to itemize payroll for when people are driving versus performing other duties. Otherwise all payroll will go to the highest rates class code (delivery), and you’ll see a large increase in premium at the next audit.
If your staffing is reduced during this time, you may be able to reduce the payroll midterm to help with the Workers’ Compensation premium. Remember that it will be your responsibility to notify your agent once things start to go back to normal so your policy can be rated accordingly.
If one of my employees gets the coronavirus and infects a customer, am I at risk for a liability suit?
In this day and age, anyone can sue anyone for anything. That’s a lot of “any’s,” I know, but that shows how vague and expansive the litigation field is and how vulnerable people and businesses are. It’s why we recommend umbrella insurance for individuals and businesses alike. You can’t prevent someone from suing you, but you can take measures to prevent it from coming out of your pocket if they win.
Just because someone files a lawsuit doesn’t mean they actually have any legal basis to back it up. We can’t say for sure how the courts would handle such issues. But we can speculate about some of the legal hurdles that could come with such a lawsuit.
First, the complainant would likely need to prove that the infection came from your business, not from somewhere else. If you ask me, that’s difficult or darn near impossible to prove.
Next, they may need to prove that your business was negligent in some way. That could mean that you failed to clean and sterilize properly. Or that you allowed employees with known exposure or symptoms to continue working.
Finally, they would need to show that they experienced financial or physical damage as a result of the infection. If the person only had some minor cold symptoms and was able to work from home, it’s hard to imagine the courts awarding much monetary compensation. If they end up in the hospital and have outrageous medical bills or missed weeks of work without pay, that’s another story.
Like the legal aspect, the question of insurance coverage is also a bit murky. There’s a chance your Commercial General Liability coverage could extend if an employee were to infect a customer. It would all depend on the language in the policy.
Many policies exclude coverage for communicable diseases as well as bacteria and fungus. So it’ll boil down to how your policy is written. The best thing you can do now is call your agent and have them review your policy. See what coverage you may or may not have, and if there are any extra coverages you can add to cover potential lawsuits in the future.
I was forced to close my business for the time being due to the coronavirus, does my commercial insurance cover my lost revenue?
Normally coverage for lost revenue due to a business interruption would be dependent on a physical loss that caused the business to shut down temporarily.
For example, a fire is a physical loss that can impact the normal operation of a business. If the fire damages the building or factory that produces a necessary component for the business to operate, insurance will likely cover the lost revenue.
With COVID-19, there isn’t any physical damage preventing business operation. Many policies exclude communicable diseases from coverage, however there are some more modern policies that cover business interruption due to things like cyber-attack or contagious diseases.
Whether coverage will extend is going to depend on if there is a “covered peril,” based on the language of each individual policy.
There are no guarantees that your commercial policy will cover the lost revenue or expenses you incur during this time. Your agent should be able to dig into your policy and at least provide some guidance about how your coverage could play out.
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