With childcare providers being told they can’t get insurance cover for the risk of COVID-19, Cllr Denis Hynes backed the call by the Labour Party for a general insurance indemnity against Covid-19 related claims, using the State Claims Agency, to help get Ireland back to work and save jobs.
Insurance companies are refusing to provide cover for COVID-19 related claims, so too many businesses won’t be able to re-open because they might be sued by a customer or employee who catches the disease.
“Workplaces and businesses are being told they can’t get insurance cover for Covid-19-related claims. It is the issue of liability, and the duty of care. Any renewal of insurance will not cover that. It will be impossible for many businesses, and some public bodies to open without that insurance. We’ve seen this directly impact childcare providers and the same issue will arise to hotels and restaurants. They cannot take the risk of being liable for their employees or their customers becoming victims of Covid-19 if they are not insured against it. We must have a solution to that, some sort of indemnity. A person can’t sue if they get the flu when visiting the local supermarket. We need to address that issue or businesses will not re-open when this phase passes," said Cllr Hynes
Cllr Hynes said the State Claims Agency would remove the immediate risk from insurance renewal. There would still be the usual reasonable care provision meaning the State could void the indemnity for reckless employers.
“The long-awaited childcare scheme for health workers fell apart within a day when insurers told providers they would not be insured for any claims related to Covid-19. Shops, Hotels, pubs and restaurants are worried about the same thing. It is a major worry. We also don’t know if schools can reopen in September, and one of the main reasons will be insurance cover. The Government now needs to step in and use the State Claims Agency to indemnify against the risk of people getting Covid-19. The costs of any future claims can be recouped through a levy on insurance profits, but what’s most important now is to get Ireland reopened once it is safe to do so. Workers and customers also have to feel safe so there must be a very robust inspection regime from the Health and Safety Agency, and for those found breaking the rules are held to account. That’s why under our proposal, the Government must ensure that businesses that flout health and safety guidelines will pay the cost, not the State" he added.
“The sooner we get the country back up and running in a safe way, the quicker we can get people back to work, once all the rules on social distancing and stopping the spread of Covid-19