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Monkeypox was declared a national public health emergency by the US Department of Health and Human Services on August 4, 2022, only the fifth time since 2009. On September 20, 2022, the Centers for and Disease Prevention reported 24,203 confirmed. cases nationwide, with California (4,753) and New York (3,799) leading the way. The immediate implications and potential long-term consequences of Monkeypox on the commercial insurance industry remain unknown for several reasons.
Some studies indicate that Monkeypox requires prolonged, close, face-to-face or direct skin-to-skin contact with rash lesions to spread. This reduced threat of transmission minimizes the likelihood of large-scale government shutdowns or stay-at-home orders, and the incumbent claimed property and business income losses, of the kind seen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While property coverages should not be affected by the Monkeypox outbreak, liability insurance policies may not be immune. For example, schools, daycare centers, nursing homes, and other residential care facilities may face claims related to exposure to and contracting Monkeypox linked to alleged inadequate safety protocols. As always, insurance professionals should be guided by the language of the particular policy.
However, such claims should be subject to the communicable disease exclusions found in many general liability, errors and omissions, or homeowners policies (or even auto policies). In particular, in Lambi v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. co., 498 F. App’x 655 (8th Cir. 2013) (applying Missouri law), the Court considered the conduct of two consenting adults where one allegedly transmitted an STD to his partner. The insurer denied coverage on the homeowner’s policy because the policy’s definition of “bodily injury” excluded “any of the following that are communicable: disease, bacteria, parasites, virus or other organism transmitted by any insured to any other person… ..” Id. at 656. The Eighth Circuit held that the policy excluded the actual or alleged transmission of a communicable disease because infecting another person with the HIV virus clearly fell within the ordinary and ordinary meaning of the transmission of a communicable disease. Id.; See also Plaza v. Gen. Make sure. co.244 AD2d 238, 239 (NY App. Div. 1997) (applying communicable disease exclusion to injuries sustained by HIV transmission); Koegler v. Liberty Mut. Ins. co., 623 F. Supp. 2d 481, 484-85 (SDNY 2009) (communicable disease exclusion would have precluded coverage for policyholder who transmitted HPV and herpes if there was a timely waiver of coverage, as the exclusion was unequivocal).
Places where workers may be in contact with affected people as a result of their work duties, such as hospitals, physical rehabilitation clinics, spas, chiropractors, massage therapists and fitness facilities, may see an increase in claims of third parties Additionally, daycare centers and schools, where children may be in close physical contact for extended periods of time, may see some claims to the extent that a student allegedly contracted Monkeypox on the premises.
In the meantime, we’re looking at the monkeypox case numbers and analyzing the policy language that may have been involved.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstances.
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