The Covid-19 Coronavirus is now spreading around the world, including the US. We are likely to see an uptick in cases in the coming weeks and months. There is potential for a prolonged and widespread outbreak in the US. As we’ve seen with South Korea, cases can spike from double digits to thousands in just a week or two.
One question that keeps coming up is:
Does insurance cover business interruptions when supply chains can’t deliver, or employees can’t come in to work?
The answer is, in most circumstances, No. Broadly, these are considered business risks, not insurable risks. Insurable risks in business interruption follow a direct physical loss, like fire, water, etc. Sickness is not a direct physical loss, though it may feel that way. This is one reason the stock market took such a beating last week: many of the losses businesses expect are not insured or insurable.
Corona Virus impact on your business
One way or another, your business is likely to be affected by this outbreak. The best way to protect your business is to protect your employees, including by setting them up to work from home. This limits person-to-person contact and reduces the risk of your employees infecting each other which ultimately reduces the risk to your business. Not every business can have its employees work from home, but if you think you can make it happen, it’s strongly recommended to get set up now.
Call your IT provider In China, South Korea, and Iran where case numbers are high, most schools and work places are closed and people are working from home. Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, has already told its employees to stay home because of the Coronavirus. Call your IT provider and ask them about work from home computer and phone set-ups for your employees. It’s important to move quickly to get set-up with a work from home system that works for your company.
Set up a meeting with everyone on your team Go through all of the things that your employees need to work from home. Consider the obvious: computers, phones, email log-ins and other system log-in information. Also take a moment to figure out who on your team needs to communicate with each other and how. Imagine you couldn’t come back to the office for 2 months. What would you need to work effectively during that time?
Limit or eliminate physical presence Think about how you can continue to do business with your customers without physical presence. How will a customer call into your business outside of the office and who will answer the phone? Are there in-person physical meetings with clients and contractors that can be replaced with Skype or other virtual meeting platforms? Think of how to replace as many physical interactions as possible with virtual ones.
Have your office work from home for a day After you think you have a clear understanding of how your work from home system will function, and everything is in place, do a test work-from-home day. The first day will likely have hiccups, but it’s better to discover these issues during a test day when everyone still has access to your physical office.
If you can’t work from home, how can you work away from other people? For businesses that cannot have employees work from home, the goal is the same, how can your business operate with limited person to person contact? For instance, a landscaping company may wish to assign one truck and one set of equipment to each employee and figure out how to have each employee work independently with limited contact during their day.