CII society produces good practice guide as vacant offices fill despite illness risk

The Society of Insurance Broking, part of professional body the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), has urged its members to double check that public liability policies for commercial clients include cover for Legionnaires’ disease, as staff return to vacant office buildings following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The society has produced a good practice guide, which explores the risk of legionella disease faced by brokers’ corporate clients.

According to the guide, many workplaces are at risk of an infected water supply since office buildings were left empty during the lockdown period – the majority of employees have been working from home, as per government advice, in order to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

However, the society said that the way standard public liability policies are currently worded means that most outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease will fall within an exclusion clause and will, therefore, not be insured.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of lung infection that can be caught by breathing in tiny droplets of water which contain the bacteria that causes the infection. It is usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals or offices, where the bacteria have got into the water supply.

Supplementary cover

To ensure insureds have cover for this risk, the guide explains how brokers will need to make a specific application to insurers, requesting additional wording that gives supplementary cover against the disease.

Stuart Stead, board member of the Society of Insurance Broking, said: “Many business owners, especially in the SME arena, will be unaware that not all public liability insurance policies provide cover for Legionnaires’ disease.

“As we know, if an outbreak is confirmed then it could cause not only a financial penalty but potentially a very severe reputational effect on top of that, from which many businesses could struggle to recover.

“This guide sets out how brokers can better assist their clients in relation to explaining this insurable threat, and thereby financially mitigating the risk should the worst case occur.”