COVID-19 and Insurance Update - 17/07/2020

 

As Australia continues to deal with the pandemic, we wanted to reach out to reiterate our support at this time. EBM remains committed to working with you through COVID-19 and offering the same personalised service we always have.

 

Your Account Manager is available to meet with you in person (WA and QLD only), by phone or through a virtual meeting. We will continue to stay in regular contact to ensure you have the information and resources you need. Please do not hesitate to contact your EBM Account Manager should you have any questions or concerns.

 

COVID-19 and Business Interruption Insurance

 

As businesses continue to experience financial pressure from COVID-19 with forced closures and restricted trading, many businesses look to their Business Interruption (BI) insurance for relief.

 

Unfortunately, it is usual for a BI insurance policy to exclude claims which are caused by an event that the World Health Organisation has declared a pandemic, such as COVID-19 and in particular, most standard BI policy exclusions have the intention to rule out notifiable and/or quarantinable infectious diseases.

 

However, could there be an exception?

 

Some law firms are arguing that insurer exclusions could be challenged in certain cases, raising speculation around whether BI insurance cover for COVID-19 may be properly excluded by policies with pandemic exclusions that exclude “diseases declared to be quarantinable diseases under the Australian Quarantine Act 1908 and subsequent amendments”.

 

Currently, there is no firm answer until the courts decide. There will eventually be judicial or other legislative clarity on this matter and similar issues.

 

Separate to this though, most BI policies can only be triggered where an infectious disease (not otherwise excluded by the policy) is actually “present” at the premises insured and in some instances within a radius, such as 20km for example, that has led to a competent public authority ordering the closure of your business or premises.

 

The facts of each matter and the specific policy wording are the starting point in each case. Different policies contain different terms and conditions and ultimately, whether any policy will respond will depend on the policy wording, specific circumstances of the loss, and quite possibly a successful legal challenge to the interpretation of current exclusions on the policy, which insurers maintain are very clear.

 

Further updates will follow as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) considers a test case which may provide clarity on claims relating to the coronavirus shutdown.

 

Will your travel insurance cover you for COVID-19?

 

Whether you are covered depends on the terms and conditions of your specific policy. When you purchased the policy will also affect if you are covered. Most insurers classified COVID-19 as a ‘known event’ somewhere between 21 to 31 January 2020. If you purchased your travel insurance before COVID-19 became a known event, you may be covered. Cut-off dates vary depending on the insurer.

 

If you haven’t booked travel insurance for an upcoming trip, please note that most travel insurance companies will not cover any COVID-19 related claim if you buy a policy today.

If your travel plans have been affected by the pandemic, consumers are encouraged to be proactive in contacting your travel agent, accommodation, airline or other transport company. AFCA expects refunds or other remedies such as travel credits or refunds should be offered in most circumstances. Many travel service providers are offering penalty-free options to amend or cancel your travel arrangements.

 

If you have any questions about your travel cover, please contact your EBM Account Manager.

 

Cyber Risk Management

 

The Australian Government recently warned the public of sustained cyber-targeting against Australian institutions. This activity represents the most significant, coordinated cyber-targeting ever observed.

 

Information issued by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) described the attacks as ‘copy-paste compromises’ because the actors had copied heavily from open-source code to exploit known security vulnerabilities.

 

ACSC Risk Mitigation Techniques

 

The ACSC identified two key risk mitigation techniques that reduce the risk of compromise from this attack.

  1. Patching of internet-facing software, operating systems and devices:
  • All exploits used by the attacker were publicly known and had patches or mitigations available. Australian organisations should ensure that security patches or mitigations are applied to internet-facing infrastructure ASAP
  1. Use multi-factor authentication across all remote access services, such as:
  • web and cloud-based email
  • collaboration platforms
  • virtual private network connections
  • remote desktop services

Find out more about the ACSC Advisory 2020-008 Copy-paste compromises and mitigation techniques.

 

Improving cyber-security

 

EBM recently prepared a series of tips to improve cyber security that your business may find valuable.

 

When it comes to cyber security and protecting privacy and data, risk management is paramount. Risk strategies should include having a robust Business Continuity Plan, training employees, prioritising IT security measures, accessing authoritative risk management advice and ensuring an adequate Cyber Insurance policy is in place.

 

Cyber incidents can result in thousands of dollars in remediation costs, regulator fines, customer notification costs – and unfortunately small businesses are one of cyber criminals favourite targets. Cyber Insurance protects your business from costs associated with one of these incidents.

 

For more information, please speak to your EBM Account Manager.

 

Here to help

 

We will continue to do our best to keep you informed. If you have any questions, please contact your EBM Account Manager on 1300 755 112 for further information.


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