It is impossible to control who might sue your organization, and the insurance policies are designed with that in mind, to protect the organization and its members, volunteers and employees while they are acting within the scope of their duties. However, it is still important that all parties do their best to follow reasonable practices to protect their members, following CDC, state, university and organization guidelines for opening and operating the facility in a COVID-19 environment in order to limit their liability as much as possible.
Along those same lines, we would encourage your local house corporations to release members from their housing contracts if those members claim that they are concerned about contracting the virus if they live in the chapter facility. While it doesn’t affect coverage, that is whether the claim would be covered, if the entity requires that the member fulfill the contract, the entity/organization takes on more of the liability should that individual become sick.
We also want to clarify that while the General Liability policy does not exclude COVID-related claims, the property policy does exclude all claims based on a virus exclusion within the policy. Claims for negligence on the part of the organization that could have possibly resulted in a member or employee contracting the virus would be covered. Claims from the house corporations or chapters claiming that they have lost income because of the virus would not be covered.
We believe, particularly given the widespread nature of the virus, that it would be difficult for any individual to establish that a chapter house was the source of contracting the virus. Nonetheless, should the officers or members of a chapter, or a local employee become aware of a member, or employee working in the house who has tested positive for the virus, steps should be taken immediately to help prevent the spread of the virus to others.
As always, we encourage you to check with your national organization’s guidelines regarding reopening. We also have numerous resources at our COVID-19 Response Center. Contact us with any questions, as always!