Article courtesy of USA TODAY via “The Rundown”
Sal Pain’s hazardous waste removal company has transported trash contaminated with the scariest of the scary, be it anthrax or asbestos, legionella to MRSA.
Now, for the first time in 30 years, he’s facing a business challenge like none before. His insurers won’t cover him for Ebola.
“Ebola is different,” Pain says. “Nobody wants to touch this with a 10-foot pole.”
The Ebola epidemic that has struck three countries in West African and on Wednesday claimed the life of Liberian man visiting the United States has prompted an unprecedented worldwide public health response.
Now the fallout from the spread of the deadly virus has hit business and travelers. Businesses like Pain’s Bio-Recovery Corp. in New York and companies with workers abroad, including oil and mining companies, humanitarian organizations and transportation providers, have to evaluate how they should operate as the threat of Ebola looms and insurers refuse to help shoulder the risk.
Business owners worry about two things: interruptions in their money flow and danger to their employees, says Logan Payne, senior account manager at Lockton, a global insurance broker. Most businesses carry insurance to protect them in either scenario, Payne says.
In the case of Ebola, however, the insurance policy may not help. Many policies won’t cover any risk associated with Ebola, Payne says.
Brad Smith, vice president of CG Environmental – Cleaning Guys which decontaminated the Dallas apartment of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who died Wednesday, says the company is still negotiating with its insurance company about what’s covered.
“When they took us on, they knew what we did,” Smith says. “But Ebola is new to the United States of America. There is still a lot of information being gathered by a lot of smart people right now.”
Companies must consider their liability should an employee sent to an Ebola-affected area gets sick and exposes others, says Dave Evans, senior vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.
“Businesses need to consider what will happen if an employee of theirs boards a plane and has Ebola,” Evans says. “What potential liability do they now have to other members of the public?”