Ask The Expert Online Edition
Kim Brown, president of KLB Insurance
Q. What kind of liability do restaurateurs have if someone comes down with the coronavirus after dining at their restaurant? Or an employee is infected by another employee? Would this be covered by their current insurance policy? If not, should they alter their policies to reflect this kind of coverage?
A. It depends on if there is a way to prove they actually caught the virus at the establishment. They did pass legislation in Minnesota regarding including coverage under the workman’s comp for essential workers.
I would tell you that I would always just send in the claim to have the insurance carrier determine coverage.
There is no endorsement to add this kind of coverage currently. And even if there was, it would be very expensive.
Brown also included this document to further clarify:
State laws differ on the subject. Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska law distinguish between “ordinary diseases of life” and “occupational diseases.”
Minnesota law says, “ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed outside of employment are not compensable. So when is it considered an “occupational disease,” which is covered by workers’ compensation?
One example would be when the person’s employment increased the risk of a “proximately caused” disease. For example, one well-known case was the airline flight attendant who came down with the Hong Kong Flu after stopping in that country during a virulent outbreak.
As with most legal questions, determining whether an illness is compensable will depend heavily on the facts of each specific case.
What to do when an employee’s been exposed to infection
Because it can sometimes take extensive time and testing to determine whether the exposure resulted in infection, sometimes employers are unsure what to do during that time in regard to workers’ compensation.
Two steps to take:
• Report the exposure to your workers’ compensation insurer as soon as you learn of it.
It will likely start as an incident-only report, and it’s possible it will never result in a claim. But in the event it does, details from the initial report could be helpful in determining liability. That determination is based on whether the facts prove the exposure occurred in the workplace and whether their risk for exposure was greater than that of a member of the general public due to their work activity.
• Follow your company’s policy on what to do when an exposure occurs.
Have one point person assigned to make sure all the necessary tests and treatments take place. Workers’ compensation benefits typically do not cover the costs of medical tests following exposure, wage loss if quarantined, or preventive measures like hepatitis vaccines or flu shots. If your company isn’t experienced in dealing with exposure events, reach out to your company’s preferred medical clinic or another medical provider that you have a relationship with for guidance.
Kim Brown is president of KLB Insurance headquartered in Woodbury, MN. Her insurance strategy is partnering with organizations and entities that help improve regulations and laws for businesses. Her agency specializes in providing insurance for golf clubs, fine dining, hotels, hospitality, construction, residential living complexes, equine and agriculture services and ADA compliance. While her company is national, she services both large and small accounts, offering 24-hours service for claims. She can be reached at 651-730-9803 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to the website at www.klbins.com.