Since originating in Wuhan China at the end of 2019, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has caused significant disruptions worldwide.
In addition to the human tragedy, measures to control the pandemic are severly impacting businesses and employees.
This page has been set up to provide answers to the most frequently asked COVID-19 related insurance questions and links to trusted, up to date information and resources.
Frequently Asked Insurance Questions
The information provided in this FAQ is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. If you require advice that is tailored to your specific business or individual circumstances, please contact Coverforce directly.
Important Note: The general advice below is current as at 23 November 2020 and could be subject to change. How your business interruption policy will respond to a claim depends on the relevant facts of your claim, and the particular policy wording you are insured under. For this reason, it is always best to consult with your insurance broker for advice before making a decision about whether or not to make a claim.
For policies with pandemic exclusions that refer to the Quarantine Act without referencing the Biosecurity Act
Referring specifically to policies with an exclusion for losses arising from a pandemic where the 'disease' has been designated under the now repealed Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth), without also citing the current Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth).
Proceedings filed on the 13th of August 2020, in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, (now being decided by the NSW Court of Appeal), have sought to test the effectiveness of certain infectious disease exclusions found in many Australian business interruption policies. The case consists of two separate small business claims that were lodged with AFCA as part of its dispute resolution process.
On the 18th of November 2020, the NSW Court of Appeal ruled against insurers. The court held that COVID-19 is not a disease "declared to be a quarantinable disease under the Quarantine Act 1908 and subsequent amendments", and "accordingly was not excluded from the disease benefit clauses".
The ICA is currently consulting with members to potentially appeal the decision to the High Court. Parties are able to lodge disputes up until December 16th.
You can read the judgement here.
While an appeal is highly likely, this result may impact other policyholders ability to make successful claims under policies with similar exclusions.
How each business interruption policy will respond to a claim depends on the relevant facts of the claim, and the particular policy wording issued to the insured. We encourage you to contact your insurance broker for personalised advice.
For policies that do not include a pandemic exclusion, or contain a pandemic exclusion that applies only to ‘infectious disease’ coverage clauses and not to other coverage clauses in the policy such as ‘prevention of access’ or ‘closure by authority’ coverage clauses:
You may be able to claim for losses arising from COVID-19 under these policies. We encourage you to contact your insurance broker urgently for personalised advice.
A typical Corporate Travel Insurance policy will provide cover for cancellation costs where the travel destination has reached DFAT Advice of Level 4 - Do Not Travel and was not at this level at the time of booking.
You can check the current DFAT Advice Levels on https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trades website.
Fear of travel is not a covered event under a Travel Insurance policy. This includes travel to areas that have known cases of COVID-19 but have not yet reached DFAT Advice Level 4.
The coverage provided on each policy and the position taken by different insurers can vary. If you have concerns, it's a good idea to contact your insurance broker or insurer directly.
Important Notice: COVID-19 became a known risk on 24 January 2020, and as such, some insurers may look to decline claims arising from COVID-19 if the trip was arranged on or after 24 January 2020. Whilst not all insurers are taking this position at this time, it should be taken into consideration when making future bookings.
Yes, under specific circumstances.
According to the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) COVID-19 can be covered under Section 4 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 as a disease injury. A claim would be successful where the virus is contracted during the course of employment and the employment is found to be the main contributing factor to contracting the disease.
Proof that employment is the main contributing factor is likely to be difficult to determine and each claim would need to be considered on its individual merits and evidence.
Employers are advised to take all appropriate preventative measures to eliminate the risk of employees contracting COVID-19 in the workplace, as with any other workplace health and safety risk.
Where employees are potentially exposed to the virus as part of their employment, employers should provide guidance and assistance to the employee to make a claim for workers compensation.
Should you have further enquiries about Workers Compensation or managing WHS risk in respect to COVID-19, contact our Coverforce Workplace Services team directly on 02 9098 5500.
If you have an Income Protection policy under one of these products - PayCover, WageCare or WageGuard - then you are covered for illness. If your policy is under UPlus, only those who have sickness cover are protected.
If you are unable to work due to a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and your illness continues beyond your insured waiting period, you will be entitled to claim benefits under your policy.
Note: If you contracted COVID-19 at work, it is important to lodge a Workers Compensation claim in the first instance.
If you have sickness cover under an alternate policy, it is recommended that you read your policy documents carefully or speak to your broker about whether you are covered.
Trusted Information and Resources
Current Government Advice and Restrictions
Health Alert, Updates and Reports
Information Sheet for Employers regarding COVID-19
Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws - Fair Work Ombudsman
Fair Work Ombudsman - Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws
Safe Work Australia - COVID-19: Advice for Employers
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Employers - Australian Taxation Office
Need more information?
About your insurance
For further information in relation to your insurances or risk management advice for your business during this time, please contact your local Insurance Broker directly or call the Coverforce Sydney Head Office on 1300 503 503.
For the latest updates or enquiries in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak you can contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. Calls can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.