Axa confirms position on coronavirus business interruption coverage


Updated: The provider won’t cover for Covid-19 unless it is specifically named in the terms as other insurers including RSA, Allianz, NIG and Ageas respond to the crisis.

Axa has clarified it will only cover specified diseases for business interruption following the coronavirus outbreak which is spreading across the UK and World.

Insurance Age questioned a number of insurers about how they would respond to business interruption caused by Covid-19.

Axa confirmed it would only cover diseases already specified in insurance contracts and did not word its contracts to refer to a general class of notifiable disease.

Covid-19 was first identified earlier this year and was listed as a notifiable disease last week.

Axa said in a statement: “In general, when our Business Interruption policies provide an extension in cover for infectious diseases, they list the diseases by name. Only for those diseases will they compensate for financial losses resulting from premises having to close.

“Our wordings don’t refer to a general class of notifiable diseases, but they name each disease individually. When Covid-19 was added to the list of notifiable diseases in England, it did not change policy coverage.”

It stated that UK insurers use this precise approach of naming individual diseases rather than referring to a group because they cannot cover risks that they can’t assess.

The provider also confirmed what it would do if businesses were affected by staff having to self-isolate.

It commented: “If your policy provides any infectious diseases cover, the document lists and names the diseases for which financial losses are covered.

“When the government added Covid-19 to the list of notifiable diseases, it did not change policy coverage.”

Aviva confirmed last week that its own business interruption cover did not include losses arising from the coronavirus.

RSA said it would deal with all coronavirus cases on a claim-by-claim basis to reflect the wide range of insurance contracts in place.

A spokesperson commented: “As always we are committed to supporting our customers in whatever way we can. We encourage policyholders affected by coronavirus to get in touch if they have questions about their cover as a range of different scenarios may apply. We are also in regular contact with our partners, including brokers, to ensure we are working together closely as the situation continues to evolve.”

Ageas directed its own customers to check policy wording as its approach to business interruption and disease varies.

“With Ageas commercial products being available through brokers, businesses have the benefit of a broker’s expertise in understanding their insurance needs and tailoring cover to meet their specific requirements,” a spokesperson noted.

She added: “Within commercial insurance business interruption cover often has a common extension to cover to support businesses against loss of turnover should a human infectious disease be identified at the insured’s premises. Our commercial business interruption wordings vary in approach, either identifying a fixed list of diseases or referencing all diseases that are classified as notifiable. 

“As Covid-19 has now been classified as notifiable by the UK Government, we are recommending that customers check their policy wording to understand the cover that applies and speak to their broker should they have any queries or require advice about what that means to their individual circumstances.”

Allianz declined to comment on the impact on its business interruption policies amid the developing situation.

A spokesperson said: “We are intently monitoring the developing situation and are working closely with the ABI.”

Last week the British Insurance Brokers Association confirmed that it was still planning to go ahead with its conference which is hosted in Manchester in May despite the threat of large gatherings being cancelled.

The trade body also said it was working with its members to share all the most up-to-date information about the virus.

NIG later confirmed: “Corona Virus is not covered under the business interruption section of our standard Commercial policies. Our policies contain an extension under the business interruption/loss of rent sections for disease which is included as standard.

“This extension does not use the term ‘notifiable disease’ and instead restricts cover to a list of specified diseases. We regularly review our policy wordings in response to broker feedback, emerging commercial trends and the ongoing needs of UK businesses.”

In addition, a Zurich spokesperson, commented: “Zurich provides insurance cover across a wide range of risks, some of which may respond to the impact of coronavirus. We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and remain ready to support our customers. It is too early to discuss any potential impact.”

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