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Ebola: Insurance implications for the charity sector

By Amanda Doran
Head of Commercial Combined

As Ebola continues to spread across West Africa and isolated cases are reported across the world, the charitable response to the pandemic is also gaining momentum. As is often the case, the most affected countries are those that do not have the resources or infrastructure to cope. Consequently, they rely heavily on external support, notably from the charitable sector...

Volunteers, or those employed by charities, who elect to travel to impacted zones generally do so with their eyes  open to the risks they face but this does not diminish their employer’s responsibility to them. Understandably, the world’s focus is on Ebola and West Africa currently but the  influenza pandemics of recent years  have also posed serious challenges for the charity sector, and specifically the protection of their representatives.

In terms of insurance cover, a charity that is ‘sending’ its employees into danger zones needs to be absolutely sure  how its policy, typically employers’ liability, will respond if an employee gets into difficulty.  At a very basic level,  it needs to understand  what options for repatriation and on-site support exist and the conditions that must be adhered to.

Diseases like Ebola are not usually excluded from employers’ liability policies  but restrictions will apply.  For example, most UK employers’ liability policies will cover for a maximum of 90 days non-manual work abroad.  Extensions can be arranged for this but an insurer would expect to be informed before an employee travels to  an affected area.

Employers’ liability cover would typically exclude repatriation costs so where this is considered a necessary degree of cover, a charity should look into purchasing additional travel insurance or extending its existing cover.
Irrespective of the nature of its work or scope of its intervention, I would advise charities to maintain a regular dialogue with their broker and/or insurer to ensure that as circumstances change they continue to have the most appropriate level of protection in place for their employees.

Amanda Doran, Head of Commercial Combined