COVID-19: What the Independent Agent Needs to Know 

April 10, 2020 /

We recently got together with the FC&S Expert Coverage Interpretation team from National Underwriter to discuss how independent agencies can keep their businesses running and help their clients navigate coverages in these uncertain times. 

1. Business Coverage Interruption 

The biggest effect COVID-19 has had so far on the insurance industry has been in business interruption coverage for commercial properties, which traditionally does not cover viruses as a cause of loss. In fact, the standard ISO form for business interruption coverage includes a mandatory virus and bacteria exclusion. 

At its core, business interruption coverage protects against “physical damage to the property or to nearby property, where the civil authority has closed down the business in order to access that property.” Civil authorities have certainly closed businesses for COVID-19. However, with this virus there is no physical damage. 

Several states have introduced bills addressing the coverage gap for closures related to this virus. The proposed legislation varies slightly by state but would require companies to pay certain claims otherwise not covered by existing business interruption policies. If these bills pass, they could cost the insurance industry $200–$400 billion per month, though carriers would be able to file for reimbursement in some states.  

2. Auto & Workers’ Comp 

Many businesses are getting into the delivery of food and goods to try and stay afloat rather than close their doors entirely. Often these businesses do not have commercial auto policies and are relying on the personal auto coverage of their employees. Insurance departments are requesting carriers provide or extend auto coverage to insureds who have expanded into delivery.  

Workers’ compensation is another area to watch. First responders, medical workers, and other essential workers are at a high risk of exposure. Various states will be providing modified workers’ compensation coverage for essential workers if they are quarantined after being exposed on the job. 

3. Regulatory Bulletins

To date, 35 state insurance departments have issued bulletins around COVID-19, with more coming every day. Common themes include producer licensing, grace periods, cause of injury codes, and exemptions for signed paperwork. This information is included as a part of the complementary COVID-19 material in ReferenceConnect. Vertafore has also compiled a running list of changes related to producer licensing available here

4. Working from Home 

National Underwriter also addressed agency concerns over work from home adjustments, including the importance of cyber security for remote workers and employer risks associated with this new work environment. 

For more in-depth information on this topic, check out our webinar COVID-19: What the Independent Agent Needs to Know

To learn more about what Vertafore is doing for to help agencies keep their businesses running, including our complimentary COVID-19 material in ReferenceConnect from publishers like National Underwriter, visit vertafore.com/in-it-together.