Commercial Insurance: Considerations for Returning to the Office Post-Pandemic

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The recent pandemic certainly forced many business owners to take action to address the safety of their workers. Now that we seem to be coming to the end of COVID-19 widespread impact on the workforce, will there be more changes to the workplace in the future?

The overall consensus seems to be that, yes, many jobs and occupations are likely to change. As a positive outcome of the pandemic, many companies have become innovative in the ways they reduced travel and physical contact.

These changes have resulted in less workplace congestion and an increase in cleaning and sanitization. Many employees were able to work from home and reduce many businesses ’ overhead costs.

But what does this all mean for your business’s commercial insurance going forward?

Here at Capital Insurance, we can’t see the future but we are working hard to prepare for new trends. Our expert brokers are finding creative ways to counsel our clients toward commercial insurance packages that will suit their needs and budget.

The Return to Work and Changes in Commercial Insurance Policies

Now that we are heading into the post-pandemic phase, many businesses are starting to address how they are going to get their employees back into the office and back to work.

While you may be eager to return your business to “normal”, as it was prior to the pandemic, some changes are inevitable. For instance, you may need to make changes involving new work-from-home policies as well as policies surrounding vaccinations, relaxed social-distancing measures, and mask mandates.

These decisions need to be proactive and business owners need to take into consideration how their decisions are going to impact their commercial insurance policies.

Thankfully, insurance companies have developed a better understanding of the types of risks associated with COVID-19 so coverage terms and exclusions in policies issued post-pandemic may look significantly different.

In the meantime, here are some insurance policy options you should consider for your business as you prepare to return to the office:

Cyber Liability Insurance

Having employees working remotely from their homes certainly created the potential for liability when it comes to external exposure to sensitive data and information. If you plan on having employees continue to work from home on a part-time or full-time basis, it’s important to ensure that their work setup is as secure as what you would use in the office.

In order to avoid issues with cybersecurity, consider providing your employees with a business-owned computer and VPN (Virtual Private Network) software. This way, you can make sure the systems are password protected and safe from access through public WiFi.

Additionally, cyber liability insurance will cover any costs associated with cybercrime that involves your business’s technology systems and customer data. These costs often include system data and restoration, system business interruption, and incident response.

D&O Liability Coverage

Also, with so much changing in the workforce due to COVID-19, you may also want to consider D&O insurance (Directors and Officers Liability Insurance) to protect any high-level decisions made by you or your managers when it comes to decisions that produce unintended consequences.

Say, for example, you decide that employees do not have to wear masks in the office and another outbreak of Coronavirus forces a shutdown. If the shutdown leads to a drop in stock price and shareholders are looking to sue management, any claims could be covered under D&O insurance.

Another example would be if your company relaxes travel restrictions for employees but an employee ends up infected with COVID-19. That employee could bring forth a lawsuit against you but this would likely be a workers’ compensation issue.

However, if they file a suit against management, this could be considered a D&O issue and covered under this particular insurance policy.

Business Interruption Insurance

Business interruption insurance covers lost revenue if your business cannot operate due to fire, flood, or burglary. Unfortunately, standard business interruption policies do not cover closures due to pandemics.

However, as insurance companies are evolving policies to address issues such as pandemics, it may be possible to purchase additional and specific coverage for business interruption due to notifiable or infectious diseases. 

It’s important as a business owner to recognize that these additional coverages are not included in standard commercial insurance policies.

Why won’t insurance companies cover business interruption in the event of a pandemic? Unlike natural disasters where the risks can easily be mapped out, it’s impossible to predict if a future pandemic will unfold the same way that COVID-19 did. Therefore, it’s extremely difficult to predict the risks.

Going Back to the Office: Keeping Your Employees Safe

While commercial insurance policies are imperative to protecting your business, it’s important to avoid risks altogether by protecting your employees – both physically and mentally.

If you’re getting ready to head back to the office, there are some tips you should keep in mind:

  • Ensure workplace safety. Establish procedures to maintain social distancing, proper cleaning and sanitization, and continue to comply with government guidelines.
  • Accommodate a slow return to work. Take the time to slowly return your employees to work to avoid confusion and allow for readjustment.
  • Engage new employees. You may have some employees that have never set foot in your workplace. Pair them with a senior employee to help them acclimate to the work environment.
  • Encourage employee development. Those who have been away from the office likely experienced “Covid Fatigue” and burnout while working remotely. Encourage employee interaction by offering training programs or organize small social events.

While you want to make sure you are continuing physical measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to help your employees adapt to your office’s new normal. 

Ready to Get Back to Work?

Capital Insurance is ready to help you! As you prepare to get back to the office, let’s talk about your business’s current insurance needs.

Contact us today and we can discuss your commercial insurance policy and how it can be tailored to meet your unique business needs.

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