Companies can now insure themselves for costs incurred if their building or the vicinity is officially closed due to a pandemic. With an expected spike in H1N1 cases this winter, Aon, a global insurance broker, has created a standalone insurance policy to reimburse companies for wages, fixed costs and extra expenses if they are unable to access their buildings.

After the H1N1 outbreak in April 2009, both the Mexican and Argentinean governments shut their central business districts, public buildings and educational institutes to prevent the spread of infection. If the UK or other governments take similar action in the event that the pandemic escalates, companies may not be able to rely on their standard business interruption insurance policies that traditionally restrict cover to disruption caused only by: physical damage or notifiable diseases, of which H1N1 is often not included and is subject to low limits.

The new Aon product is believed to be the first available to all industry groups, rather than solely focusing on hospitals and the health care industry. Retail, transport and manufacturing are likely to be the most affected sectors as they rely on public access and staff on site, whereas most financial services employees, for example, are able to work from home.

Cover can be adapted on a global, regional or single-territory basis, and companies will also receive a free business continuity management guide to assist in creating, implementing and testing reaction plans.

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