Entries tagged with “pandemic”.

The world’s largest insurance broker has announced a new product.  AON Corp has established a new policy specifically for companies that are concerned about losses from shut down and interruption due to the H1N1 flu (aka Swine flu).  In an e-mail statement to Crain’s Chicago Business, the organization announced a stand alone policy that will provide coverage for lost wages, fixed costs and extra expenses when associated with this flu virus. 

Most insurance providers offerring business continuity policies have excluded coverage for buildings closed due to the flu.   According to the article in Crain’s,  pricing information and terms and conditions were not provided.

With the H1N1 virus getting so much attention these days, and President Obama declaring a national emergency over this potential pandemic, it is wise to consider options to protect your company, and this specific insurance coverage is one of those options. 

Points to consider with this policy would be the terms and exclusions established by the policy, the coverage that is provided, and naturally the cost of the policy.   Additionally I believe an understanding of the nature of your business and the impact to your business if you were not able to access your physical location are another key component.   In many cases companies have established alternative sites, and work options as part of a larger continuity program (You have developed some basic contingency and/or recover plan I hope).

Last year, there were instances of the government closing sections of a city down because of flu fears, and the article hints this would be one of the items that would be covered.  I would assume that this would also cover costs in the event the building management closed the facility due to the flu outbreak. 

Based on this best guess of coverage, folks in the retail sector would be hardest hit and, depending on the cost, could provide economic relief.  Service industries could also be affected because of the locations of many offices in major cities.

If this type of insurance coverage is important to you, contact your insurance broker or AON directly for additional information and costs. 

If you haven’t developed your pandemic continuity plan, a good place to start is by reviewing our previous posting  on preparing for the pandemic published earlier this year.

We have previously reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the H1N1 flu (aka Swine flu) to a full blown level 6 pandemic status.  In a Washington Post article John Barry, author of “The Great Influenza”, discusses what can and can’t be done to protect against the H1N1 flu. 

According to the article,  the impact of the pandemic and how many people the virus will sicken and kill depends on three things:

  1. The virus itself
  2. “Non-pharmaceutical interventions”
  3. The availability and effectiveness of a vaccine

The current H1N1 outbreak is following a similar behavioral pattern to the previously documented pandemics of initial sporadic activity with local instances of high attack rates, followed four to eight months later by waves of widespread illness with 20 – 40 percent of the population sickened.  The article indicates this is a 2 to 4 times increase of the normal percent of sickened people with annual flu.

While we don’t have control over the virus itself Mr. Barry indicates we do have control over the “non-pharmaceutical interventions ” (NPI’s) and vaccine.

The article indicated that the challenges with NPI’s are:

a) they are limited and the primary impact will be on flattening the pandemics peak and stretching out the duration of the illness which would take some of the stress off the infrastructure that is used to treat the illness.

b) the “fear fatigue” that can be associated with a long term warnings.   Barry said “Scholars Bradley Condon and Tapen Sinha found that in Mexico City this spring, when the government advised wearing masks on public transportation, compliance peaked at 65 percent three days later — but declined to 26 percent only five days after that. “ 

According to the Post article the most important human intervention is the vaccine.    The major issues here are developing an effective vaccine and having the supply available to treat the public.

Barry noted that we should not lose site of the H5N1 influenza strain (commonly known as bird flu) which is still an active and potentially dangerous strain.

 To access and read the entire article (which I strongly urge you to do) click here

Recently the World Health Organization upgraded their classification of the H1N1 (better known at the Swine Flu) to a level 6 pandemic.    This is not an indication of an increase in the severity of the disease, rather that the spread of the disease is more widespread across the globe.

In the US, it is business as usual as we had gone into the Pandemic mode more than a month ago.   For some countries this is a call to put into place their pandemic plans to protect their citizens and travelers.  For some companies, the change means heightening the review of travel plans to areas not previously reporting swine flu cases, reviewing the goods and services moving into and out of these areas (due to potential product demand shifts) and interruptions in some services due to the illness.

News reports indicate that drug manufacturers are developing a vaccine to help protect us from the disease and it should be available prior to the next flu season. 

You may be asking yourself, what should I be doing about this announcement? 

Hopefully you have implemented a pandemic strategy for situations like this and have focused on making sure your employees remain health and take the appropriate precautions.  If you haven’t designed a plan you have a few months before the flu season hits, you might want to begin the planning and communication process.