Let’s Look at Liability: COVID, Guests and Goods
As public health restrictions lift, many homes are welcoming loved ones, guests and clients again. The influx of visitors may have you second guessing your renters insurance policy. If you’ve wondered if you’re liable for COVID-19 transmitted while in your rental, read on.
What is the “liability” part of your renters policy?
Liability insurance is a specific field of coverage on your renters insurance policy. It protects you, the purchaser, from the risk of liability resulting from legal action. Such legal action may pertain to bodily injury or property damage that guests experience while at your home.
When we think about liability insurance for rentals, slips and falls come to mind. If someone delivers a mattress to your house, trips and falls over an extension cord in the hallway, that’s a matter for your liability insurance. But what happens when the threat is unseen?
Hundreds of flu seasons have come and gone since the advent of renters insurance. Few people, however, considered their liability if someone contracts an infectious disease while in their rental. Infectious diseases such as the common cold, flu and COVID-19 may cause bodily harm, but they are treated differently under liability insurance provisions.
The liability of disease is a contentious topic: to what degree can a property owner or tenant protect occupants and guests? What measures are they required to take, legally or ethically? How precisely could guests pinpoint the exposure to the rental? Answers will vary, but for nearly all renters, your liability is limited.
The majority of liability clauses in renters insurance policies contain virus and pathogen exclusions. This includes liability, loss of use and personal harm due to exposure to a virus.
Does remote work influence my liability coverage?
During these unique times, many people operate in remote work environments. This means that your home is your office, your impromptu workshop or store.
Does remote work influence your liability coverage? It depends. It doesn’t matter if a guest visits your rental for work or recreation, the virus and pathogen exclusions apply. The exclusion might also address goods prepared or packaged in your home and then shipped to others. It is best to discuss your policy with your insurance provider. You may also consider commercial general liability coverage.