Ebola Exclusions From Commercial Insurance Policies

Source: http://www.mondaq.com, October 30, 2014
By: Heidi A. Lawson and Scott A. Rader, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Last week we wrote about a new business interruption insurance policy that is being rolled out to healthcare providers which will provide specific coverage for various ebola-related losses. This week we note that some business insurers are beginning to specifically exclude ebola-related losses from their standard commercial insurance policies. This raises what might seem to be an obvious question: are ebola-related losses currently covered by standard business interruption provisions (in which case it would seem redundant for an insurer to specifically add this coverage) or are they currently excluded (in which case it would seem unnecessary for an insurer to specifically exclude it)? But these apparently opposite reactions can be seen as reflecting a common theme among insurers: because ambiguities in an insurance contract typically are construed in most jurisdictions against an insured, insurers prefer for their policies to be as explicit as possible (particularly when it comes to exclusions) to ensure that policyholders cannot make a claim for coverage as a result of an ambiguity. The tendency for insurers to do so highlights why insureds typically should retain counsel to review their policies to make sure their expectations about what will be covered are reflected by their policy’s language.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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