Across Pennsylvania, businesses are facing reopening amidst a lot of uncertainty.
In addition to fear about the spread of illness in the workplace, business owners are also faced with risks associated with catching up on production, liabilities associated with layoffs and workers compensation claims, EEOC discrimination lawsuits, and allowing third-party vendors or customers back in the building.
Our agents at The Yurconic Agency are here to help you understand some of the risks associated with reopening your business and how to protect your business from potential liabilities using your different policies.
Business Interruption Insurance
Generally speaking, business interruption insurance must be attached to physical damage or the threat of physical damage even if a civil authority, such as the government, shuts down your business or orders you to close.
There are many legislative debates on whether COVID-19 causes physical damage to your property. For argument’s sake, let’s say it can. If you can get past the physical damage, there are still exclusions such as pollution, CPO140 (also known as the virus exclusion), and deductible waiting periods (often 72 hours) that need to be factored into the claim.
As with any of the policies mentioned in this article, it remains to be seen whether your claim would be covered but we are advising all policyholders to turn in their claims so they are on record.
Third Party Liability
The threat of third-party liability is real. We are seeing lawsuits against cruise lines, manufacturing plants, even prisons and banks, as a result of COVID-19.
No one expects or intends illness to be contracted at their facility. But, if you are reopening before it is mandated by law to reopen, this is a liability that may not be covered.
In order for your general liability insurance to cover a claim, the court will have to be able to hold you legally liable for whatever is being alleged.
Workers’ compensation does cover occupational illnesses (think the coal mining industry and black lung); however, the illness must be specific to the industry and has to be contracted in the course and scope of the employment.
This is an investigation that is extremely important, as it depends on when the symptoms first appear.
A lot of legislation is out there about COVID-19 as an occupational illness and workers’ compensation claims. Pennsylvania currently passed legislation to cover workers’ comp claims for first responders and healthcare workers. This could change to include more professions.
If an employee does come to you believing they contracted COVID-19 at work, put in the claim. Carriers have an extensive list of questions they can use to determine if it is a claim and the disease was contracted at work. Don’t take it upon yourself to deny your workers’ coverage without filing a claim.
In the event you laid off workers, hopefully you had them sign a no known injury form. Lots of people don’t want to come back to work and they suddenly have workers comp claims. Unfortunately, layoffs do produce a lot of fraudulent activity.
No matter what situation, we encourage you to talk to your broker and turn in claims, regardless of what your policy may or may not cover as new legislation changes situations even after a claim gets denied. Contact your agent today by calling 610-770-6600 or using our form.