Is There Coverage for COVID-19 Claims Under a General Liability Policy? 

General Liability During a PandemicThere is no question that both large and small businesses have been negatively affected by COVID-19. As an insurance professional, you may have already experienced a tsunami of questions from business clients as to how their commercial general liability (GL) is going to help mitigate losses associated with the pandemic.

Today, with many states allowing businesses to begin to slowly open their doors to the public, business owners may wonder what coverage they have under their GL policy should a patron allege that he or she has contracted COVID-19 while at their establishment. The fact is, there are a number of ways a claimant could have been exposed to the coronavirus; therefore, the burden of proof is on the claimant to establish that the business was specifically liable for his or her contracting COVID-19.

Another consideration is whether allegations of people who contracted the virus are considered an occurrence or an accident. In a GL contract, a policy pays for harm for a covered loss caused by an occurrence that is typically defined as an accident – this includes the repeated exposure to harmful conditions. In most normal situations, this most likely wouldn’t be an issue; however, the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be anything but normal. As a result, whether a business’s liability due to an alleged failure to safeguard patrons from being exposed to COVID-19 was caused by an accident will depend on whether the business owner anticipated the possibility of the claimant’s injury. This can be a gray area, as it could be argued that the business knew there might be a chance that a consumer could be exposed to COVID-19 and therefore, there is no occurrence/accident. *

We are living in unprecedented times and are having to navigate myriad new challenges due to the pandemic. Decisions about how coverage will respond to claims relating to COVID-19 will be made by each insurer and based on the facts of claim, individual policy and applicable laws. As an insurance professional, you play a vital role in helping your clients better understand specific facts about their coverages and ensuring that they have the protection they need.

About FastrackCE

Ensuring continuity in business in the midst of a crisis situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic is vital. At FastrackCE, we make it easy for insurance professionals like you to maintain current continuing education licensing requirements so you can continue to serve your clients. When you need us, we can help. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

*Whether a claim is covered or denied is based on the facts involved in each particular claim and will play a large role in determining whether a particular COVID-19 illness was caused by an occurrence. Policies and claim situations will differ.

Disclaimer: Every insurance contract must be reviewed to determine the extent, if any, of coverage for COVID-19. Coverage will vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. The information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with your own legal and/or other professional advisors.

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