Insurance and Risk Response to the Novel Coronavirus (209-nCoV)

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Australian Government Department of Health are closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. A large number of human infections have been confirmed in China since December 2019, and now the virus has appeared in a number of other countries, carried by travellers previously in Wuhan. On January 30, the World Health Organization declared that the outbreak of 2019-nCoV constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (209-nCoV) impacts our community particularly given the large number of Chinese-Australians who live in Australia, as well as our tourism industry’s reliance on Chinese visitors to our shores.

From a care perspective, you may have staff, patients, students, customers and residents in your facility who are directly affected with either family or friends who have contracted this virus, or who are now unable to travel or receive visitors.

Given both the Disability Royal Commission and the Aged Care Royal Commission are ongoing, morale may be further lowered with the recent news that the Australian Border Force announced that Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited mainland China from 1st February 2020 (with limited exceptions). From an insurance perspective, Marsh’s Global Risk Director provides a very clear and useful article here.

From a risk management perspective, businesses should consider developing clear pandemic response escalation processes which are specific to their operations so that individual facilities, divisions and regions can identify potential health threats early, and act swiftly and appropriately to protect the organization, employees, resources and revenue streams. Organisations should also be aware of dependency on critical suppliers, and potential operational and sales impacts if affected by an outbreak. Identifying components or materials from alternative and/or geographically dispersed suppliers may be a useful component of pandemic response strategy planning.

From an employee health and wellbeing perspective, it is important that an organisation looks closely at salary continuance insurance to ensure that there is cover available for prolonged absences from the workplace if an employee contracts the virus, and the business is not out of pocket for extended sick leave.  

The Department of Health has prepared factsheets for health, education, aged care staff, patients, residents and families, and the travel industry to assist in control of novel coronavirus. These factsheets have been cleared through the Communicable Disease Network Australia and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Insurers’ responses to cover for pandemics, and any notifiable disease under the Quarantine Act 1908 are generally not favourable, however insurance policies differ widely in the extent of cover, and we strongly encourage you to contact your broker to examine your individual insurance policy to understand the level of cover provided. Should you have direct queries on your insurance program, please contact Nicki Tofler at Marsh on 0405 318 278 – Email: We are able to assist with insurance, risk consulting, and employee health & benefits insurance to ensure you are able to build a comprehensive pandemic response strategy.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable, but we make no representation or warranty as to its accuracy. Marsh shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Marsh makes no representation or warranty concerning the application of policy wordings. Marsh makes no assurances regarding the availability, cost, or terms of insurance coverage.

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