By now we have all become somewhat accustomed to the Covid-19 pandemic world we live in. As restrictions are lifted and businesses restart and reopen, one question is asked again and again: “Am I covered?”
The answer? You are and you aren’t.
The policy you carry on your commercial hull should include maintenance and cure for your crew. This provides coverage for injury and illness that affects crewmembers while they are signed on and in service to the ship. But what about when a passenger falls ill? As one adjustor said, this is unchartered territory. He did say the policy would defend the client and that it will be interesting to see if the passenger could prove the virus was contracted on board the vessel.
And while illness is covered under M&C, we have seen one company come forward with a Covid-19 exclusion. We will have to wait and see how this stands up in court.
What about your land-based employees? Your USL&H covers your employees for injuries or illnesses which occur while engaged in your business’s employment. Each claim is reviewed on its merits. Most often in these cases the burden of proof falls on the employee to show the illness was contracted in the workplace.
State workers’ compensation employees are covered for workplace injury. Again, the proof would have to be made that the illness was contracted at the workplace. The big take away with any claim made by an employee is to turn it in and let the adjustor at your insurance company make the decision. If he or she does not submit a claim, it can lead to bigger problems and potential lawsuits.
Coverage under your general liability can respond or not. Your GL policy typically responds to third party claims of bodily injury. But keep an eye out for an endorsement called Communicable Disease Exclusion. This would clearly void any coverage for Covid-19 cases brought against your business.
As governments ease restrictions that have kept businesses closed be mindful of how you operate in these new conditions.