Risk Management

Insurers Float Pandemic Coverage Plan

The proposed federal program would protect businesses against financial losses from future pandemics.

Three major insurance industry groups have proposed a federal program that would protect businesses against losses suffered from future pandemics.

Under the Business Continuity Protection Program (BCPP), companies could purchase revenue replacement for three months’ relief for up to 80% of payroll and other expenses, through insurers that voluntarily participate.

The BCPP is being proposed by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America as an alternative to draft proposals for a federal pandemic backstop modeled on the Terrorism Risk Insurance program.

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A bill to establish a pandemic risk insurance program has been circulating in Congress. The draft bill has been opposed by groups representing large property and casualty insurers.

“Pandemics simply are not insurable risks; they are too widespread, too severe, and too unpredictable for the insurance industry to underwrite,” Charles Chamness, the president and chief executive officer of NAMIC, said in a statement.

The group said a bill like the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which includes a financial role for industry, was not compatible with the idea that pandemic risk was uninsurable.

Under the BCPP, companies would have to purchase revenue protection at least 90 days before the declaration of a viral emergency by the president and would have to certify that funds from the program would be used to retain employees and pay expenses necessary for operations.

The program would be run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and misuse would be punishable by fines, repayment, or criminal charges.

“I don’t like the idea honestly of the insurance industry coming up with anything,” Jimi Grande, senior vice president of government affairs at NAMI, said. “It makes it feel like it’s an insurance industry problem, and it’s not. We just happen to be the people who understand risk better than anybody else.”