Is Your Business at Risk for Ebola?

With concern prevalent regarding Ebola, people are worried about their personal risk, but does your company have an insurable risk to loss related to the Ebola outbreak?   Let's consider some questions: Questions:

  • What happens if your company has a loss of income from a shutdown similar to the Frisco medical facility that was closed temporarily due to cleaning related to an EbolaEbola patient?
  • If an employee of a restaurant is diagnosed with Ebola, is the loss of income covered if the location is required to shut down temporarily?
  • If an apartment complex you own is evacuated because of a diagnosed tenant, is that covered for loss of rent and expenses?
  • What about the additional expenses for cleaning of your location from a diagnosed contamination?


Answer: Standard property insurance policies do not cover loss of business income or extra expenses incurred because of Ebola exposure. That is because there is no direct physical damage to covered property.   Depending on the type of business you operate or the direct risk to your company, there are additional insurance products that can help cover your company's risk, both for loss of business income and extra expense exposure due to a contamination and clean up.


Question:  If your employee is exposed to Ebola during the course and scope of employment, could your company incur liability for medical expenses, as well as indemnity for the employee’s medical expenses and related liability for affected family members?


Answer:  Even the most cautious employers may be at risk for employees getting infected with Ebola.  Through Oct. 10, there have been 4,656 laboratory confirmed cases worldwide. Some 4,033 people have died globally from the disease, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Most business owners might think that the employee's health insurance would cover that worker’s expenses.


However, health insurance policies exclude all coverage for work related injury and illness.  Workers’ compensation is not required for employers in Texas.  If an employer insures their employees’ workers’ compensation risk, the employer should be covered for risk of all liability to work related injury or illness.


If the employer either "self-insures" their risk or purchases an occupational accident policy for their employees’ risks to Ebola, the employer needs to re-evaluate the coverage and exposure to the risk. Self-insurance might create more risk than an employer may want to assume.  If the employer chooses to purchase occupational accident insurance, they need to use caution.  Not all policies are written the same. So an employer must evaluate how their policy specifically may covers the risk.


Question: If an employer has an employee who is diagnosed with Ebola and the employee transfers the disease to a client or patron, is there coverage to protect my company from a liability claim?


Answer:  Again, standard insurance policies do not cover biohazard or pollution risks.  If you feel like your company is at risk for contaminating the public, a specialized policy may be acquired to cover the liability risk. Placing coverage would require specific underwriting and applications.


Question:  If an employee travels for work and gets infected with Ebola, can an employer cover the employee’s risk while traveling? What are the risks?


Answer:  Whether your company has international sales staff, international locations, a school sending students for international studies, or your organization is a nonprofit providing missionary-type work around the world, your employees can be exposed to infectious disease wherever they travel.


Your company needs coverage for international medical expense exposure, along with repatriation expense, to travel back to the states for proper medical attention.  Both services are expensive and sometimes impossible to place after you have a diagnosed employee in a foreign land. However, coverage can be reasonable before your employees travel.


No matter what a company's risk, business owners need to evaluate risk and understand insurance options available.  Contact your agent and discuss your concerns, and evaluate all available insurance coverage options to protect your employees and company’s assets.

Swingle, Collins & Associates specializes in life sciences insurance and ebola risk coverage The descriptions of coverages listed on this website are brief and subject to the provisions, limitations, and exclusions that can only be expressed in your policy and related endorsements. For additional information of how Swingle, Collins & Associates can assist in meeting your coverage needs for medical device manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing and dietary supplement manufacturing insurance please contact your dedicated risk manager to discuss the benefits and services of personal homeowners insurance coverage.

The information contained on this page is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It contains general information on insurance issues and may not reflect the most current developments in insurance coverage and is unlikely to apply in all factual scenarios. The information does not include all the terms, coverages, exclusions, limitations or conditions that may be contained in the actual insurance contract language. The policies themselves must be read for those details. Sample policy forms will be made available upon reasonable request.