Given the state of the current coronavirus pandemic, many Aussie business owners are asking, “What happens if I contract COVID-19?”

The Insurance Council of Australia has declared COVID-19 an ‘insurance catastrophe’. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be a disaster for you, providing you have the right insurance cover in place.

Certainly, the size of insurance claims and the extent of the losses that relate to the coronavirus outbreak are not yet known. However, it’s inevitable that the implications for the insurance industry will be widespread and long lasting.

Still, what does this mean for you — as a business owner or sole trader?

What insurance will help if I contract COVID-19?

Given the impact coronavirus can have on your health, this could pose a significant financial risk to your business. The question is, if you were to contract COVID-19 and unable to work, could your business still operate? Would you still get a wage?

In the case of dog walkers and pet sitters, you would be unable to operate your business while in self-isolation. Unfortunately, most business insurance won’t cover periods of interruption to your business associated with a pandemic, such as COVID-19.

According to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), ‘most business insurance policies typically cover disruption to a business as a result of physical damage to assets that the business relies upon.’

The ICA website states: ‘Whilst some specific policies may differ, in Australia the majority of business policies are likely to contain exclusions relating to losses caused by any disease notifiable under the Biosecurity Act, or the Act that it replaced in 2015, the Quarantine Act.

‘Regardless of the Act referred to, the intent is consistent – quarantinable or infectious diseases are generally excluded as a basis for a claim in these policies.’

According to BizCover, the distributors of Pet Professional insurance, while every claim will be assessed on its own merit and circumstances, it is their understanding that COVID-19 has already been declared as a formally listed pandemic, which means that it will be excluded. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Keep reading to find out about the benefits of Personal Accident and Illness cover.

Personal accident and illness cover

If you were to contract COVID-19, Personal Accident and Illness cover could be your saving grace!

Personal Accident and Illness cover is available to help you cover your loss of income if you are unable to work due to accident or illness. Therefore, if you were to contract COVID–19, you could be covered for up to 85% of your income (maximum limits apply and proof of income will be required at claim time).

To be eligible to claim, you must have:

  • specifically purchased illness cover
  • obtained an official diagnosis and not just be self-isolating
  • taken out the Accident and Illness cover before you were diagnosed with COVID-19

Safeguarding your business during COVID-19

Since the start of COVID-19 many businesses have shut down or closed their doors temporarily. We know the fight against coronavirus will continue for many more months ahead, which will see more businesses face financial difficulties.

Understanding the threat to your business and thinking about ways in which you can address the possible scenarios you face can be helpful. Here are a few factors to think about.

Consider ways to adapt your business

Adapting your business may mean taking it online, working remotely or cutting back on ongoing expenses. Indeed, finding a new way to build revenue may change the future of your business in a positive way.

Adapting to change is a great lesson for anyone in business. Not only will it give you confidence, it may strengthen your business proposition in the long term.

Undergo a financial health check

It’s always vital to stop and consider the financial viability of your business. This might include considering how you would survive if you became ill or were unable to work.

There’s no time like the present to think about cutbacks. Look at your daily tasks and outgoings and ask yourself, “Do I need to be doing this?” and “Is this a necessary cost?” After all, every little bit can help when it comes to cost-cutting for your future financial health.

Maintain loyalty and presence

Have you noticed that many restaurants that have been forced to close their doors are still active on social media? Have you considered why?

When we get to the other side of COVID-19 you want your clients and customers to return. They won’t if they’ve forgotten all about you. Staying active on social media can help keep your business top of mind.

In addition, maintaining a relationship with your customers can help create loyalty. After all, if you’re still committed to communicating with them when you have nothing to sell, it’s a sign that you value the relationship you have with them.

Manage the risk of COVID-19 in your workplace

There are a number of precautionary steps you can take to help protect your business during the COVID-19 crisis. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the following:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Make sure your workplace is clean and hygienic. Wipe surfaces with disinfectant regularly. Examples include: keyboards telephones, desk, equipment, door handles, lift buttons etc
  • Promote regular and thorough hand washing by employees, contractors and customers. Make soap, and sanitiser readily available
  • Include signage to remind people in the workplace to wash their hands
  • Educate people on what good hygiene means – signs, emails
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene. Ensure tissues are available for those who have a runny nose or cough, along with closed bins for safe disposal of tissues.
  • If possible, stay home. If you have any signs or symptoms of coronavirus, self isolate.
  • Develop a crisis plan. For example, if you own a veterinary clinic you should have a plan of action of what to do if someone becomes ill with a suspected case of COVID-19 at your workplace.

Taking adequate precautions and planning ahead can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus in your community. The more we all do our bit, the quicker we will come out the other side.

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Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure for the past 12 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals.

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