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COVID-19 and Insurance Issues from HPM Insurance

Written by Tom Hutton on 03/31/2020 11:28 AM in Business Insurance,. Agency News,. Property Insurance.

Covid-19 & Insurance

No one is escaping the impact of Coronavirus.  Businesses, families, and society are navigating the situation as best they can.  Here is what we are doing as an agency, what companies are doing to accommodate the increased pressure on insureds and what we recommend all businesses do in response to this crisis.

A Message from HPM Insurance on COVID-19 and Important Insurance Issues

How is HPM Insurance Responding to Coronavirus?

As we all navigate the challenges presented by Coronavirus, we closed our offices to the general public as of March 18th, 2020.  However, our team of insurance professionals remain available to you during regular office hours via phone (603-673-1201), email, video chat, and our website under the Client Service Tab.

Following guidance from CDC and government authorities, we will remain closed to foot traffic until further notice.  That said, technology has allowed us to continue most business-as-usual such as writing new policies, completing policy reviews, processing payments, making policy changes, and sending documents electronically that require a signature.

If you are limited by technology and need to drop something off at one of our locations, please contact us to make arrangements.

What Are Some Insurance Companies Doing for Insureds and Bill Plans due to Coronavirus?

One of the most significant challenges facing businesses and individuals alike is financial.  Because of this, many insurance companies have stepped up and are being flexible with payment plans, modifying billing plans and deposits, waiving fees, and extending grace periods.  

That said, you must communicate your situation with either your agent or carrier directly so you understand what accommodations can be made and what is expected on your end.  

It is also critical that you know whether your insurance company is willing to make billing accommodations, as not all are at this point.  That said, the more companies hear from agents and clients, the more likely they are to make adjustments.

What Are Some Insurance Companies Doing for Insureds and Coverage due to Coronavirus?

As this situation is presenting everyone with challenges, many of our company partners may be open to adjusting coverage during the pandemic on a case-by-case basis.  An example of this could be if you need to use a personal vehicle to deliver take-out.  That said, it is strongly advised that you communicate with us so we can confirm coverage with your particular company as not all companies may loosen coverage or extend coverage, especially if you work for Uber, GrubHub, etc.

Insurance company partners have told us specifically that it is not the intent to provide full-time or permanent Business Use coverage for food delivery.  Still, they are taking this position temporarily to help insureds during a time of need. They will re-evaluate the position as the situation evolves so communication is critical.

How Could Coronavirus Impact Your Business and Insurance Coverage?

As many businesses close due to COVID-19, there is a question of whether or not business interruption insurance would cover the lost revenue.  Business Interruption insurance provides coverage for income a business would have earned had it been operating normally, but like all insurance, coverage is subject to the terms, conditions, and exclusions written in the insurance contract.   

Typically business interruption coverage is triggered by a direct physical loss or damage, such as a fire.  Shutting down due to a pandemic like COVID-19 would not usually be covered, and is often explicitly excluded with a virus exclusion.

Coronavirus and General Liability Insurance

COVID-19 also raises liability concerns for many businesses, especially if customers allege they got sick due to a business's negligence.  General liability insurance (aka commercial liability) protects enterprises from financial loss should the company be found to be legally responsible for property damage or bodily injury caused by its services.  This coverage provides the critical component of defense coverage as well should your business need to be defended in court.  

Coronavirus and Worker's Compensation Insurance

COVID-19 may also impact worker's compensation insurance if an employee believes they contacted the virus at work.  That said, most state statutes generally exclude infectious and contagious diseases from worker's compensation benefits unless occupational in nature, such as a health care worker.  Each case would typically be examined on a case-by-case base.

What every business should do in response to Coronavirus

As mentioned, coverage is established by the policy language as determined by each insurance company.  That said, this is a widespread and ever-changing situation, so HPM Insurance is encouraging any client who is experiencing financial loss due to the Coronavirus to do the following:

1. Document all facts as to the economic hardship the situation has caused your business, including times, dates, and financial records.

2. Document the proactive steps you are taking to mitigate and protect your business, employees, customers, etc. These actions may help in a defense should someone sue your company for negligence stemming from the Coronavirus.

Documentation is required regardless if you file a claim with your insurance company or file for financial assistance from the government.  

3.  We strongly encourage you to communicate with your insurance agent or company directly if you find it difficult to pay your insurance premium.  As mentioned, many carriers are recognizing the hardships placed on businesses and may be willing to adjust fees and due dates.

It is critical to keep your insurance coverage in effect to benefit from possible federal, state, or insurance company claims relief.  A policy may also need to be in effect to have defense coverage in place should your business be sued for alleged negligence stemming from the Coronavirus pandemic.

As this situation continues to unfold, we at HPM Insurance will do our best to keep you informed on the impact Coronavirus has on business insurance and invite you to speak to your risk control specialist with specific questions.

Stay safe; stay healthy!

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