Employers and insurance companies the world over are trying to measure the impact of COVID-19 on business operations. Many are working together to waive testing costs for employees and their families, but they hesitate to provide additional benefits.
If quarantine measures fail to curb the spread of the virus, insurance companies fear the influx of claims could bankrupt the industry. Businesses affected by the coronavirus share this concern, inspiring legal counsel to begin assembling force majeure defenses.
What is a force majeure clause?
When included in a contract, a force majeure clause excuses one party from performing the contracted duties if an “act of God” makes those duties impossible. Most of these clauses specify extraordinary circumstances like fires, hurricanes or tornados as acts of God — very few list pandemics.
Many contracts impacted by COVID-19 may find their force majeure clauses defended in court. Their subsequent rulings will likely impact future cases and set defining precedent, as many arguments will demand a creative defense.
Much remains uncertain. Impending changes to the Family Medical Leave Act and the approval of a government stimulus package will change the legal landscape. The resulting impact on costs of testing and treatment will set the groundwork for the coming legal battles.
Necessary testing, necessary coverage
Families out of work due to COVID-19 may soon find themselves unable to cover their bills. If a family member then gets sick, the costs of testing and care could incur severe medical debt. A family may then file an insurance claim to cover these costs, but then find the insurance company denies this claim, citing a force majeure clause in the agreement. Hoping to set a favorable legal precedent, that insurance company may decline to settle and instead risk the case to court.
Many families forced to fight for their due coverage have found success with the service of a local lawyer experienced with the laws regulating medical insurance. A conscientious and knowledgeable attorney can help healing families keep their focus on health and home.