Pandemics and Insurance


The World Heath Organization (WHO) has declared the Novel Coronavirus a “public health emergency of international concern.” Leading news media indicate that it will likely be classified as a pandemic soon.

Both the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided best practices for preventing the spread of the disease, but some experts are suggesting that businesses and countries should be doing more to manage the risk.

The past 20 years has seen the rise of a number of pandemics. Slate recently published an article on what has been learned about treating them in that time. We thought it might be apt for us to take a look back and see what the insurance industry has learned as well.

In 2006, as a result of the avian flu outbreak, Markel introduced a much touted Outbreak Extra Expense coverage (now discontinued).  Lloyd’s has also developed business interruption insurance for epidemics as have Marsh/Munich Re. Axis HealthCare has the specialized Medical Catastrophe Business Interruption and Extra Expense product. As noted in many of the articles below, though, policy exclusions usually protect property and casualty lines from being affected by pandemics.

For more on the Novel Coronavirus, pandemics, risk modeling and preparedness, please read on.

Novel Coronavirus Articles:

General Pandemic Articles:

  • Viral Fear: How a Global Pandemic Kills an Economy: The Next –Novel Influenza Strain Could be the Catalyst for a Global Recession, by Katie Dwyer, Risk & Insurance,  29 no. 6 (August, 2018): 24, 26
  • The Next Pandemic, by Lori Widmer, National Underwriter Life & Health, 119 no. 2 (February, 2015): 38-42
  • Insurance Coverage and Pandemic Events: What Have We Learned from the Recent Ebola Outbreak? by Paul S. White and Todd M. Rowe, For the Defense, 57 no. 5 (May, 2015): 40-42, 44-49
  • How Do Pandemics Affect the Insurance Industry? by Jann Browning, CPCU, ARM, The Standard, 264 no. 25 (June 26, 2009): 10-11
  • White Paper on Infectious Disease Cover, by Allan Manning, PhD,  (2009) Camberwell, Australia: LMI Group
  • Global Warning: Reinsurers Seek a Realistic Assessment of a Pandemics’s Potential Impact, by Marc Jones, Best’s Review, 109 no. 7 (November, 2008): 60-62, 64
  • The Impact of a Global Avian Flue Pandemic, by Paul S. White, Dana Hentges Sheridan ann Rina Carmel, For The Defense, 49 no. 5 (May, 2007): 39-50, 80

Pandemic Risk Articles:

Preparedness:

  • Pandemics: Preparing for Business’s Next Big Threat (WEBINAR), by Bob Clark, AlertFind (March 22, 2018)
  • Tracking the Zika Pandemic: As the Zika Virus Spreads, Businesses Must Assess the Risks and Develop Plans to Protect Employees, by Lori Widmer, Risk Management Magazine (May 2016): 22-26
  • Planning for a Pandemic: Agents Can Play a Key Role, by Phil Zinkewicz, Rough Notes, 153 no. 13 (March, 2010): 48, 50
  • Pandemic Influenza in Asia: Potential Risk and Possible Mitigation Strategies, by Hitoshi Oshitani, Natural Hazards Observer, 33 no. 1 (September, 2008): 1, 8-9

The John Liner Review ran a number of articles on enterprise risk management and business continuity and pandemics. Issues to see are: Fall 2007, Summer 2008, Summer 2009, Fall 2009, and Summer 2010.