Death due to coronavirus exposure would almost certainly not be covered under an accidental death insurance policy. BUT – and here’s the tricky part – there CAN BE an exception depending on how and when the virus was contracted.
The leading case reaches back to 1931 in Chase v. Business Men’s Assurance Co, 51 F.2d 34 (10th Cir. 1931). The case involved an accidental death claim brought by the insurer’s beneficiary. The insurer contracted typhoid fever as a result of drinking contaminated water. The court determined the plain language of the policy “does not cover death resulting from typhoid fever not caused or brought about by accidental bodily injuries, unless it was intended that the word ‘disease’ should not include infectious and contagious diseases.” Since this was not the case and the court ruled for the insurer.
HOWEVER….The outcome might be different IF a trauma predisposes someone to catching coronavirus.
In Key Life Insurance Co. v. Gulledge, 245 Ark. 74, 76, 431 S.W.2d 245, 246 (1968), the insurer died of a cardiac arrest while undergoing surgery to treat an accidental injury. The Court determined that an accidental injury may be found to have been the cause of death IF it set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the insured’s death, even though another condition may also have contributed to the decadent’s death.
If someone is hospitalized for injuries resulting from an auto accident and contracts the virus while in the hospital and subsequently dies, the accident that set off the chain of causation may trigger coverage under an accidental death policy.
How at-risk you are as a healthcare provider for contracting covid and how this can affect your current professional insurance plans are answers my law firm can help provide. For your free professional disability and accidental life insurance policy review, call (352) 204-5300 or email me and we will be happy to assist you.