Ebola – Out of the News, but Not Over
While U.S. President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of troops in Western Africa supporting Ebola containment efforts, the number of new cases of Ebola rose last week to 144, up from 124 the previous week, according to the World Health Organization (February 12, 2015). While these numbers are a huge drop from new case numbers at the height of the epidemic, they highlight what people working in the region already know –this crisis is far from over.
“We have not seen any of our key clients working on Ebola related projects lowering their staff or commitments,” says Smita Bhargava, Vice President of Commercial Insurance at Clements Worldwide.
This reflects the continuing support to those already sick or quarantined, and renewed focus on other health problems that were going ignored at the height of the crisis, like malaria or pre-natal/newborn health.
As a result, Clements Worldwide continues to advise NGOs and international schools on managing risk. A few of the top challenges have been:
“There are logistical and legal challenges currently in hot spots to get any sick person evacuated,” says Bhargava. Private air ambulances that are typically used with evacuation insurance are not an option, and governments may have their own protocols for allowing individuals with symptoms back into the country. “The high profile repatriations for Ebola have all been arranged by respective governments,” Bhargava adds. Therefore, rather than rely on insurance that a customer may have in place, companies need to check the nationalities of employees being sent to these locations to review plans of evacuations through home country governments.
Insurers are simply not taking on new DBA cases if the customer is in Tier 1 or direct contact with Ebola patients. If you are indirectly involved (Tier 2 or 3), perhaps building infrastructure or delivering supplies, Clements may be able to work with you to obtain coverage. For organizations that are Tier 1 but sub-contracting, they may be able to achieve insurance under their parent organization.
It is too soon to tell how employees, contractors, or volunteers returning from their work in Liberia or Sierra Leone will cope with the stress of having worked in these epidemic conditions. “There may be risks of claims by employees for failure to provide adequate protection or care that clients may be insured for,” Bhargava says.
In addition to these top concerns, Clements Worldwide continues to work with its customers during renewal process and beyond to ensure that they take on no new exclusions that could limit their policies for worker’s compensation, personal accident, group health, life policies, disability policies, and others. Clements Worldwide will also help companies navigate support for volunteers and contractors.
The Ebola situation has improved dramatically from the summer of 2014 and continued diligence will hopefully reduce the number of new cases to single digits and wipe out the disease entirely. In the interim, however, Clements Worldwide will continue to support customers to protect their employees and staff on the frontline of fighting this deadly disease.
Clements is your partner in mitigating international risk, Clements can develop a policy tailored to your NGO's specific needs. Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.