Insurers are rushing to exclude the illness from epidemic cover

Businesses seeking to purchase cancellation insurance for global events will not be able to get cover for the coronavirus outbreak; Reuters reported yesterday that insurance firms are rushing to exclude the illness from epidemic cover policies.

Event organisers that already have epidemic cover in place will be able to claim for event cancellation due to coronavirus, provided the event was due to take place in a country subject to travel bans or limits on public gatherings.

However, firms that are planning music, sporting or trade events now will not be able to buy protection for coronavirus related cancellations.

Although many businesses do not buy extra epidemic insurance, large events are likely to have this type of cover – often, event organisers will purchase this insurance up to two years in advance.

Rebecca Mitchell, contingency underwriter at Argo Global, told Reuters: “As things stand at the moment, you would struggle to get coronavirus cover for any event, until we know where we are with this virus.”

Plus, the wording of insurance contracts is often nuanced, so it can be hard to distinguish whether cover is available or not, added Edel Ryan, special risks team at Marsh JLT Specialty.

Cancelled cover

So far, events such as The Shanghai Grand Prix, Mobile World Congress and the Hong Kong Art Basel Fair have all been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Tim Thornhill, director, sales in entertainment and sport at Tysers, estimated that losses to cancellation insurers are already likely to be more than $100m.

However, Ryan added that disclination to travel, where delegates or exhibitors pull out of conferences outside of a directly affected region, has never been covered by insurance.

Reuters reported that Zurich and Hiscox do not foresee any significant financial impact as a result of the coronavirus, but Argenta stated in an online post this week that if large events, such as the Tokyo Olympics, were cancelled, then a number of Lloyd’s syndicates would be affected.