Industry may be reluctant to shoulder ebola risk

Industry may be reluctant to shoulder ebola risk | Insurance Business

Industry may be reluctant to shoulder ebola risk
When Australian nurse Sue Ellen Kovack, who tested negative for ebola after volunteering in Sierra Leone, called for the world to do more to stop the disease from getting out of control she was slammed for speaking out as well as going to Africa in the first place.

However she may have a point as it seems that businesses and travellers now face increased risk as insurers refuse to help shoulder the burden.

Kovack had a mild fever after returning from Sierra Leone where she was treating ebola patients. This sparked huge concerns that the disease had hit Australia but fortunately she tested negative for the virus.

However, it has brought the issue to the fore in Australia and business owners are worried about the impact the disease will have on staff and their companies.

According to Logan Payne, senior account manager at Lockton, a global insurance broker, most businesses carry insurance to protect them in each scenario but in the case of ebola the insurance policy may not help.

America has not been so lucky in defending the country against an ebola outbreak.  A nurse who treated Thomas Eric Duncan - the Liberian national who arrived in the United States in September- contracted the disease and Duncan himself died.

Brad Smith, vice president of CG Environmental-Cleaning Guys which decontaminated the Dallas apartment of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who died last Wednesday, says the company is still negotiating with its insurance company about what's covered.

"When they took us on, they knew what we did," Smith said. "But ebola is new to the United States of America.”

Companies must consider their liability should an employee sent to an ebola-affected area get sick and expose others, said Dave Evans, senior vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

"Businesses need to consider what will happen if an employee of theirs boards a plane and has ebola," Evans said. "What potential liability do they now have to other members of the public?"

Businesses are encouraged to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for ebola. Cover should include care for illness from ebola, but it might not cover everything a patient might need, such as experimental drugs or a medical flight back home.