20Apr

COVID-19 Common Liability Concerns for Businesses

While the vaccine rollout in Hong Kong is ongoing, COVID-19 still raises several liability concerns for customers or employees who may become sick due to alleged negligence by an organization.

For these types of concerns, it’s necessary to take the following insurance considerations into account:

– Commercial liability insurance— protects your business from financial loss should you be found liable for personal harm (like a customer getting sick) caused by your product or services, or due to business operations in the case of employees. This general liability insurance can cover costs correlated with bodily injuries, damage to third-party property, personal injuries, medical expenses, litigation and more.

In the time of COVID, commercial liability insurance should provide coverage and allow organizations to defend claims. For a claim to be valid, the claimant would have to claim that the virus was contracted due to the organization’s or business’ oversight and detail how, when and where they got sick—all of which may be difficult to prove.

– Directors and officers (D&O) insurance— Shareholders can sue a business in case there’s a failure to respond competently to COVID-19 concerns. Specifically, shareholders may dispute that Directors and Officers failed to plan for adequate contingency plans or detail how the pandemic could affect the company’s finances.

Here’s a recent blog we published with examples of D&O Claims.

It should be noted that most D&O insurance excludes cover for bodily harm but may offer some protection depending on specific accusations. That said, it’s important for businesses to examine the scope of their D&O insurance to verify that they are covered in the event of such events.

EMPLOYEE’S COMPENSATION INSURANCE

In events when an employee makes a claim that they contracted COVID-19 at work, a number of employee compensation factors come into play. For workplace illnesses, most policies only pay out benefits if the disease in question is occupational in nature. This may imply that communicable diseases are generally excluded from most employee compensation policies.

However, a policy may be triggered if the illness came about during the course of employment. Generally, these scenarios are reviewed on a case-by-case basis but could include instances for:

> Healthcare workers who contract COVID-19 at the hospital where they work.

> An airline employee contracts COVID-19 from a passenger.

> A hospitality employee gets COVID-19 that can be linked to a large event at their place of work.

Poor insurance cover or the lack of any type of cover that specifically addresses your business’ liability with COVID will deter you from making meaningful recovery this year. Although there is some positive outlook on financial recovery in Asia, this should not be the time to loosen one’s sense of cautiousness.

Need to update your company’s liability insurance? Get in touch with us today.

20Jan

The Increased Risks for Directors & Officers in the Time of Covid

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant financial and operational damages in various business sectors around the world.

Many companies have reported drops in revenue at the end of 2020 with foreseen losses continuing this year. Some have need to stop all commercial activities altogether, let go of employees and sell company assets in order to maintain cash flow.

In addition, many businesses have shared that they have received numerous requests for the renegotiation or termination of initial contracts with some requests leading to litigation given the shifts in some employee duties and tasks.

In this context, it is easy to picture conflicts involving directors and officers liability – for instance, with respect to their selection of loss-mitigation actions which may later result in a loss of revenue.

In such situations, it can be difficult to determine which damages were actually because of the company’s decision-makers or which were solely a consequence of the pandemic.

Insurance providers are facing the same challenges as their policyholders. In Asia, insurers have taken the steps to determine the new risks for managers and executives.

There’s increased risk for directors and officers  – thus the need for more comprehensive D&O Insurance policy because of the following:

Company directors may be held liable for losses when they cannot supply customer demand due to COVID-19. Threats of litigation over a supply chain disruption are quite possible for large losses.

Lay-offs, non-payment of disability pay, and loss of employee healthcare have been a reality for many companies. This opens directors and officers to lawsuits for wrongful termination or breach of contract on a massive scale.

In the event of essential businesses that require employees to come to work instead of working from home, decision-makers may also be liable when members of their operations staff get sick with the virus. This is especially a liability risk if the company is found negligent of observing proper health protocols.

Watch this 2-minute video to further understand the value of a D&O insurance policy:

In complicated situations such as the current pandemic, directors and officers are held to higher standards of diligence. Their jobs require careful calculations, planning and strategising. There should be a great consideration for the risks of fraud and other unlawful acts.

Thus, the expectation from managers increases simultaneously with the level of severity of a situation in which their decisions are regarded.

As 2021 progresses, more questions have arisen about the scope of a manger’s or director’s responsibilities. What’s certain is that last year’s events have forced companies to troubleshoot unique situations with plenty of uncertainty on how to do so.

 

11Jan

5 Changes in Travel with the Vaccine

Vaccine approval that came in the tail-end of 2020 has left travellers wondering what changes they should expect this year.

And as many countries ramp-up vaccinations, the world is once again left in the dark with the new strain of the virus that led to more shutdowns and closed borders.

Given the current situation, what changes can we expect?

VACCINATION PASSPORTS

Qantas Airlines stated in November that it will require proof of vaccination from their passengers once a vaccine is approved. This serves as an onset of what other airlines will do to ensure health and safety.

Many airlines are currently testing technology to streamline the health documentation process, including mobile health apps like CommonPassICC AOKpass and VeriFLY to ensure travellers can show their health data in a secure, verifiable way.

it is important to note, however, that until the vaccine is widely distributed, rigorous screening and quarantining will remain a key part of the travel experience — before and after travelling.

SOARING TRAVEL COSTS

Depending on the destination, foreign visitors will still be required to quarantine for periods ranging between 14 to 21 days. The new COVID strain has pushed many countries to require extended quarantine which means added cost for food, accommodation and other miscellaneous expenses.

The tourism industry has also adapted to travel bubbles in which a set of tourist destinations agree to accommodate a group of while keeping doors to new visitors closed. As a result, a person or group that’s planning to stay for only five days in a country will have to stay the same number of days with the batch they with whom they arrived. As such, one can incur additional expenses.

REDUCED CAPACITY & SHORTED ITINERARIES FOR CRUISES 

Most cruises will return sailing at a reduced capacity with limited routes. In the US, initial trips will be limited to 7 days, according to C.D.C. guidelines. Masks will be mandatory in all public areas including outdoor decks. Screening and testing will also be mandatory.

Even with intensified safety measures, several cruise lines in Europe and the Caribbean that sailed in recent months were ordered to cut trips short after reporting outbreaks.

BUSINESS TRAVEL UNLIKELY TO PICK-UP IN FIRST PART OF 2021

Travelling for business is not expected to recover soon with many businesses moving operations online. Majority of airline recovery will be from leisure travel during the first half of the year.

Frequent businesses flyers with points have also been assured that they’d still be able to use their points for future flights. What’s more likely to happen is that there will be an increase in value in how flier miles can be used in the first few quarters of 2021.

Finally, in relation to cruises and air travel, agencies and transportation providers are expected to roll out more flexible cancellation policies to last at least through 2022 or longer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

An emphasis on travel insurance with repatriation and Covid-dedicated policies are also anticipated to emerge as Visa requirements. Expect insurance providers to offer new products that cater to these needs in the early part of 2021.

As it stands, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with international travel. Domestic holidays will prove to be the simpler and more cost-effective alternative for the lockdown-weary.

Need help with travel insurance? We help find the best policies for expats in Hong Kong.

21Dec

Projected Changes in Hong Kong Healthcare in Relation to COVID-19

Several vaccines have been approved and it’s only a matter of time before it’s administered to Hong Kong residents.

The Hong Kong government plans to provide free coronavirus vaccines for all its residents as stated by Health Secretary Sophia Chan last December 2nd while the country experiences the 4th wave of infections.

Who will get it first?

Sec. Chan told the Legislative Council that vaccines will be administered first to three million volunteers who are considered most at-risk or vulnerable– which includes public medical workers, patients with chronic diseases and the elderly.

One important note to remember is that Hong Kong residents will have to regularly receive COVID-19 vaccines annually which means the healthcare system will have to adjust to this demand. Here are the changes we think we could see next year:

  1. Fast-tracked Healthcare Reform

China has been revamping its health system since 1996 but the outbreak slowed down their target of reaching the deadline this year. However, plans and pivots have been made as the virus wanes and vaccines are approved

Fast reforms are expected to be implemented in areas such as:

– Strengthening of the primary care system and integration with public health crisis management system

– Sustainability and affordability of social medical insurance funds that involves price control through national acquirement and negotiation on medicines, devices and high-value consumables.

– Public hospital reform with the objective to increase efficiency

– Increase in salary and compensation packages for hospital healthcare staff

  1. Digitized Health Insurance

Public hospitals were slow in providing online healthcare before Covid-19 but this will likely change in the coming year. With the potential new policy to incorporate online healthcare services into the social medical insurance payment system, public hospitals will be presented with incentives to allow more digital healthcare services to patients. This opens up plenty of opportunity for collaborations between public hospitals and internet companies that offer insurance online. Simultaneously, this will create new hurdles (as well as opportunities) for pharmaceutical and devices companies on marketing and sales strategies.

  1. More global insurance players will be let in the country

The healthcare insurance market will be further opened to international enterprises and constraints on new healthcare insurance products are expected to be progressively lifted. Expat families and individuals who are living in Hong Kong will have more options as a result.

Many insurance companies in Hong Kong have already launched healthcare cover innovations specifically for Covid-19 protection such as Pilot’s Income Protection Insurance and Hong Kong AXA’s enhanced coverage products. 

It’s worth looking at one’s current insurance plan to make the necessary changes to ensure that all bases are covered.

Need help finding business and personal insurance in Hong Kong? We assist expats find the best covers.

 

13Mar

What If I’ve Booked My Flight? Covid-19 & Travel Insurance

As the coronavirus crisis grows, should you stay or should you go when you’ve already booked your flight?

 

Here are quick answers to your frequently asked questions:

Q: Should I still travel?

A: The advice is against ‘all but essential’ travel. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against travel to a number of areas due to the ongoing outbreak. Please check the UK FCO website for country-specific information.

Be aware that there may be enhanced screening/monitoring at entry and exit ports. In some countries, you may also be required to self-isolate for a set period, even if you do not have symptoms.

Q: Can I get a refund if my flight is cancelled?

A: Flights to affected areas are being cancelled based on FCO advice and some are solely due to a downturn in bookings.

If you booked directly with an airline, you are eligible for a refund or to rebook free of charge (although you may still have to pay any fare difference incurred). If you booked through a third party, you will need to contact them to find out your options.

Q: I’m apprehensive to travel but I’d like to push through. What does my insurance cover?

A: Airlines, tour companies and insurance providers have no obligation to offer refunds based on panic.

So if you decide not to travel to anywhere outside the FCO travel risk list, you are unlikely to get refunded. It’s worth checking because some providers may allow you to move the booking as an incentive or an act of goodwill.

Q: Am I insured for cancellations?

A: Contact your airline, hotel or tour operator to check their policy.

If they can’t help, you will most likely need to have travel disruption cover included in your policy if you plan on travelling and getting insurance.

AA, Co-op, LV and Virgin Money all have policies that will cover for cancellations based on FCO advice, and hotel costs should your flight be cancelled. You also have protection using a credit card if your booking was more than £100. 

Q: What if I end up in quarantine?

A: Comply with the rules of local authorities, which will probably involve a 14-day quarantine. It is unclear who will cover the cost of your journey home: either the UK Government could arrange a rescue flight or your travel insurance could cover your return. Check your policy provider.

Most insurance policies will cover medical costs should you become ill overseas but make sure you check the small print. If you’ve booked and simply don’t want to travel because you’re worried, you won’t have grounds for a refund.

Upon Your Return

Returned travellers who feel unwell with either a high temperature or new continuous cough, need to self-isolate for 7 days, see the Public Health England stay at home guidance. There is no need to call NHS111 to go into self-isolation. However, if symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, returned travellers in England, should contact NHS 111 online. Those without internet access, should call NHS 111 and for a medical emergency dial 999. In Wales and Northern Ireland contact NHS 111. In Scotland, phone your GP or NHS24 (111).