Short Reads

Coronavirus and insurance

Coronavirus and insurance

Coronavirus and insurance

06.04.2020 BE law

The coronavirus will impact almost all aspects of the insurance sector and will trigger many insurance policies. It is important to analyse your insurance policy terms and conditions and to determine whether and to what extent you are covered.

The coronavirus will impact almost all aspects of the insurance sector and will trigger many insurance policies. Our lawyers at Stibbe can assist you by carefully analysing your insurance policy terms and conditions and determining whether and to what extent you are covered. We can also assist you in communicating with your insurer and filing formal claims. If necessary, we can also assist you in your court proceedings.

What impact will the coronavirus have on the insurance sector?

Any pandemic (such as the coronavirus) is, by virtue of its tremendously large scale, apt to affect a multitude of insurance lines (life & pension insurances, health care and hospitalisation, but also some types of property insurance) and thereby have a serious impact on the insurance sector. From a technical standpoint, assessing the frequency and (certainly) the impact of pandemics is a tall task for insurers and reinsurers, as trustworthy actuarial data are lacking to a large extent. However, it is certain that the coronavirus pandemic will raise unseen legal questions about insurance coverage and that coronavirus-related litigation will emerge.

How to determine whether there is any insurance coverage?

The coronavirus is impacting businesses in various ways. In order to identify any available insurance coverage, it is important to:

  1. Determine the impact of the coronavirus on your particular business or activities. You should first of all define the loss you are suffering as a result of the coronavirus (e.g. incurring of medical or repatriation costs, cancellation or interruption of business, default of certain business partners, etc.).
  2. Review insurance policy terms and conditions. Secondly, you should check whether the loss is covered under any insurance policies taken out by you or taken out in your favour.
  3. Notify the insurer. If said loss could fall under the coverage, then you should notify it and file a claim with the insurer without delay.

What types of insurance policies could the coronavirus trigger?

There are several types of insurance policies that could be triggered, a.o.:

Life and pension insurance 

Standard life insurance, which covers death, will also cover the insured in the event of death caused by a disease, such as the coronavirus. In principle, death as a result of an epidemic or pandemic is not excluded from coverage. 

Pension insurance schemes usually provide for surviving dependant's pensions and partner pensions.

Hospitalisation insurance

Hospitalisation insurances provide cover in the event that the insured is hospitalised in Belgium. If one is hospitalised abroad, cover depends on the general terms and conditions of the insurance contract.

Disability (or incapacity) insurance

Regarding disability (or incapacity) insurances, the incapacity resulting from being infected by the coronavirus should be covered. By contrast, anyone who is placed in quarantine as a (voluntary) precautionary measure, without being ill, does not seem to benefit from disability (or incapacity) insurance coverage.

Travel insurance (cancellation and assistance) 

Standard travel cancellation insurance does not cover pandemics per se: cancelling a trip because the coronavirus outbreak has spread to the country you had planned to visit, is thus not covered. It will only cover the cancellation if the insured is infected with the coronavirus prior to departure, just as coverage would be granted to such person for any other medical reasons. However, some insurers offer more extensive types of coverage, e.g; cancellation of travel due to official announcement from the authorities warning or discouraging travel to the purported destination (in that respect it is noteworthy that on March 14th the Federal Government published a general negative advice for any travel abroad). 

Most travel assistance insurance policies will cover medical and ancillary expenses that have been incurred because of a coronavirus infection, just as they cover the same expenses incurred because of other diseases. 

Nevertheless, most travel insurances exclude losses resulting from events that were known or foreseeable.

Business interruption insurance 

Business interruption insurance covers the actual loss of income that a business sustains due to the necessary suspension of its operations. It may be covered as part of a company's commercial property insurance or via a separate policy. It is usually triggered when the suspension is caused by "direct physical loss, damage or destruction to property".

It can be questioned whether said physical loss- requirement will be fulfilled in the event of a business interruption caused by the coronavirus. However, it must be noted that business interruption policies often provide for an “interruption by civil or military authority"-extension (covering business interruptions due to the mere fact that the government restricts the access to the insured's premises). Such extension may more easily lead to the risk being covered (in that respect it is noteworthy that on 12 March the Federal Government ordered the temporary closure of discotheques, cafes and restaurants and cancelled any recreational activities until 3 April 2020).

Besides the aforementioned types of insurances, there are also other insurances that will be triggered by damage caused by the coronavirus, for example: event insurances, which should generally cover losses suffered by the event organiser (the insured) if the event is cancelled for reasons beyond its control (e.g., force majeure, which can include a ban on events and gatherings). This pandemic can also give rise to liability claims, which would trigger liability insurance disputes and related matters.

More about the coronavirus

You can read more publications on the impact of the coronavirus on our website. Here you will also find a list of contacts within our office who can advise you with questions about the implications of the coronavirus for your company.



This article provides some general insights on different legal questions. These insights do not constitute legal advice and may not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. The outcome of any legal analysis will strongly depend both on the specific facts and circumstances of each case and on the particularities of the sector and legal relationship involved. Our legal experts in the various domains concerned are available to assist you with the analysis of your questions and provide specific advice tailored to your case and circumstances.


Related news

08.07.2020 NL law
Dutch State breached duty of care in providing information to victims and surviving relatives of plane crash

Short Reads - Earlier this year, the District Court in The Hague ruled that the Dutch State is liable vis-à-vis the victims and surviving relatives of a 1992 plane crash in Faro, Portugal. The State was found liable because it is responsible for the information provided by the Dutch Aviation Safety Board (a government agency) to the victims and surviving relatives. This information, on the causes of the crash was deemed by the court to be incorrect and incomplete.

Read more

03.07.2020 NL law
E-book NOW-2: Second Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure Work Retention

Articles - On 17 March 2020, the Dutch cabinet announced the first emergency package of support measures to alleviate the economic consequences of the corona crisis. This emergency package inter alia comprised the First Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for the purpose of Work Retention (“NOW-1”) and the Temporary Bridging Measure for Self-Employed Persons (“Tozo-1”).

Read more

07.07.2020 NL law
Inwerkingtreding Tijdelijke Wet COVID-19 Justitie & Veiligheid

Short Reads - Op 24 april 2020 is de Tijdelijke Wet COVID-19 Justitie & Veiligheid (“de Noodwet”) in werking getreden. Aan de hand van de Noodwet kunnen rechtspersonen tijdelijk afwijken van wettelijke en statutaire bepalingen en kunnen bepaalde termijnen worden uitgesteld. De Noodwet is een antwoord op de beperkingen die gelden als gevolg van de uitbraak van COVID-19. De Tijdelijke wet COVID-19 Justitie en Veiligheid is een verzamelwet.

Read more

03.07.2020 NL law
E-book NOW-2: Tweede tijdelijke noodmaatregel overbrugging voor behoud van werkgelegenheid

Articles - Op 17 maart 2020 kondigde het kabinet het eerste noodpakket aan met steunmaatregelen om de economische gevolgen van de coronacrisis te dempen. Onderdeel van dit noodpakket zijn onder andere de Eerste tijdelijke noodmaatregel overbrugging voor behoud van werkgelegenheid (“NOW-1”) en de Tijdelijke overbruggingsregeling zelfstandige ondernemers (“Tozo-1”).

Read more

07.07.2020 NL law
Actualiteiten bescherming Nederlandse ondernemingen

Short Reads - Het afgelopen half jaar zijn er verschillende ontwikkelingen geweest op het gebied van bescherming van Nederlandse ondernemingen. COVID-19 zorgde daarbij voor een stroomversnelling. De verslechterde economische situatie als gevolg van COVID-19 maakt dat ondernemingen sneller bloot kunnen komen te staan aan ongewenste overnames of investeringen. Het Kabinet biedt ondernemingen handvatten ter bescherming tegen ongewenste overnames en investeringen als de nationale veiligheid in het geding komt.

Read more

02.07.2020 NL law
Aansprakelijkheid van de Staat bij vliegtuigcrash in Faro

Articles - In haar uitspraak van 8 januari 2020 oordeelde Rechtbank Den Haag dat de Nederlandse Staat onrechtmatig heeft gehandeld jegens de slachtoffers en nabestaanden van de vliegramp in Faro (Portugal) in 1992, waarbij een Nederlands toestel was betrokken. De onrechtmatigheid is gelegen in onjuiste dan wel onvolledige informatieverstrekking over de oorzaken van deze vliegramp door de toenmalige Raad voor de Luchtvaart, inmiddels opgegaan in de Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid (‘Raad’). 

Read more