Home Policies And Pandemic Pods
With school back in session and a second-wave of the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, everyone is on high-alert, but we’re also suffering from pandemic fatigue. After several long weeks under lockdown, and over 6 months under restrictions, people are naturally looking for ways to socialize and return to a sense of normalcy. Many parents have set-up so called ‘Pandemic Pods’ to homeschool small groups of children, friends and families are hosting small gatherings, and homeowners continue to rely on services such as housecleaning. Unfortunately, these activities could be opening you up to liability with regard to your home insurance.
Typically, your home insurance policy protects you from four types of incidents – interior damage, exterior damage, loss or damage of personal assets or belonging, and injury that occurs while on the property. Although your policy covers you in the event of weather damage, theft, and more, there are some exclusions, and these exclusions could make you liable when it comes to COVID-19.
For example, many home policies contain exclusions for illness or disease, and include wording such as: “the transmission of any communicable or sexually transmitted disease, including Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome…by any person insured by this policy.”
Another example reads: “We do not cover personal injury or property damage resulting from any illness, sickness or disease transmitted intentionally or unintentionally by a covered person to anyone, or any consequence resulting from that illness, sickness or disease. We also do not cover any damages for personal injury resulting from the fear of contracting any sickness, illness or disease, or any consequence resulting from the fear of contracting any illness, sickness or disease.”
Hosting pods or inviting people into your home, whether for pleasure or for business, could put you at legal risk in the event of a transmission of COVID-19 – whether intentional or not. The exclusions within your home insurance policy mean that you are not likely covered from a liability perspective if a spread of the disease occurs within the walls of your home.
So how can you protect yourself? Start by following all Public Health guidelines, and look to legitimate sources for information about how to protect yourself and your loved ones. The World Health Organization has stated that “Any decision to hold an event during the COVID-19 pandemic, no matter how large or small, should rely on a risk-based approach”. Consider if the activities you are taking part in are worth the risk, and how you intend to keep your household safe. Finally, if you are planning having any events, pods, or workers in your home during these times of uncertainty, connect your broker to discuss any insurance implications that may be relevant.