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Monkeypox was declared a national public health emergency by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on August 4, 2022, for only the fifth time since 2009. As of September 20, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 24,203 confirmed cases nationwide, primarily in California (4,753) and New York (3,799). The immediate effects and potential long-term consequences of Monkeypox on the commercial insurance industry are unknown for a variety of reasons.
Some research suggests that Monkeypox requires prolonged, close, face-to-face contact or direct skin-to-skin contact with rash lesions to spread. This reduced threat of contagion minimizes the possibility of large-scale government cuts or stay-at-home orders, and the officer claims property and business income losses of the kind seen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While property coverages are not associated with the Monkeypox outbreak, liability insurance policies may not be exempt. For example, schools, kindergartens, nursing homes, and other residential care facilities may face allegations of Monkeypox exposure and contraction due to allegedly inadequate safety protocols. As always, insurance industry professionals should be guided by a specific policy language.
However, such claims must be subject to the contagious disease exclusions found in many general liability, errors, and omissions, or host policies (even auto policies). Especially, Lamby v. am. Family Mut. Ins. company, 498 F. App’x 655 (8th Cir. 2013) (applying Missouri law), the Court considered the behavior of two adults, one of whom allegedly transmitted a sexually transmitted disease to their partner. The insurer denied coverage under the homeowner’s policy because the policy definition of “bodily injury” excludes any contagious disease, bacteria, parasite, virus, or any other organism transmitted by any insured to another person. ..” ID. at 656. The Eighth Chamber held that the policy excluded actual or alleged transmission of a contagious disease because infecting another person with HIV was within the plain and ordinary meaning of transmission of a contagious disease. ID.; see also plaza v. gene. Sure. partner.244 AD2d 238, 239 (NY App. Div. 1997) (application of infectious disease exclusion to injuries resulting from HIV transmission); Koegler v. Liberty Mut. Ins. company, 623 F. Appendix. 2d 481, 484-85 (SDNY 2009) (communicable disease exclusion would have been excluded from coverage for the policyholder who contracted HPV and herpes, since the exclusion was final there was a timely denial of coverage).
Places where workers may be in contact with affected people due to their job duties, such as hospitals, physical rehabilitation clinics, health spas, chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical education facilities may see an increase in third-party claims. In addition, nurseries and schools where children may be in close physical contact for extended periods of time may face some allegations, up to an allegation that a student has contracted Monkeypox at the facility.
Meanwhile, we are tracking numbers of Monkeypox cases and analyzing policy language that may be involved.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Expert advice should be sought about your particular circumstances.
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