The Cost of COVID: A Note on Personal Health – Do Not Delay!

Medical & Health

Whilst COVID-19 continues to command considerable presence in daily media and our everyday lives, the concerning longer term implications of postponed treatment plans (such as radiology and/or chemotherapy) and delays in diagnostics is being flagged by medical specialists across the world. This is especially the case in Victoria, where Stage 4 restrictions have seen patients commencing new or pre-planned treatments decline significantly. 

Delays in surgery and regular check-ups have also become a concern. A recent study by the Institute of Cancer Research (UK) investigated the impact of three and six month delays to cancer surgery on patients’ five-year survival rates.  The results were staggering.  As an example, modelling revealed a three-month delay across all 94,912 patients who would otherwise have had their cancers removed over the year, would result in an additional 4,755 deaths. These findings certainly have the potential to be extrapolated to other populations like ours here in Australia. 

Taking into consideration a 2020 forecast of 145,000 new cancer diagnoses in Australia – the majority of those being breast or prostate – the window between initial diagnosis to treatment is critical to patient remission rates. From 2012-2016, the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined was 69%. Every month a cancer goes undetected not only lowers the rate of host survival, but adds further strain to the health system down the track. Generally speaking, the later the diagnosis, the longer, or more intense, the treatment plan is likely to be.

Understandably, the greatest volume of information around COVID-19 thus far has been about the Virus itself, but as a community, we must also consider the considerable knock-on effects for patients, practitioners and our health system over the years ahead. A wave of delayed treatments now will result in a wave of implications later … and certainly not pleasant ones. 

There has already been some great investigative journalism carried out by the likes of SBS around what needs to change now, and how we can start planning for a smarter future health system. For those keen to dig in, Surviving the Virus: My Brother and Me is well worth a watch. 

In parallel, there is equal concern around the long-term health prospects of COVID-19 survivors. Ongoing symptoms akin to stroke and cardiovascular problems have already been documented. At the time of publication, we’ve had nearly 27,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases, with over 24,000 ‘recoveries’ in Australia. These are substantial numbers, and ones we’ll need to take seriously as assess our health sector’s capacity to cope. 

Short term thinking is not the answer here. While the economic impacts are perhaps easier to identify and document in the here and now, personal impacts over the years ahead are unclear, and could certainly be much worse. Just as we’re witnessing mental health ailments at unprecedented levels, delayed diagnostics are following suit. And at what cost?

The conversation, I believe, needs to shift to post-pandemic matters. In Australia, we’re in a privileged position. We have some of the world’s best doctors, nurses, hospitals, and medical infrastructure. We must review how our health system has performed, and what we need to change or start doing to ensure we’re truly future-fit. A group of Victorian Doctors are agitating for such consideration; writing an open letter to Daniel Andrews with numerous powerful points. While the true cost of COVID-19 is impossible to calculate right now, the more we can urge each other to avoid delays to personal treatments and act on our health ailments now – lockdown restrictions permitting – the better.          

 

We’re With You All The Way

 

Trent Woodward  

Head of Health & Medical 

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

Challenge, Community & Opportunity: Could Covid be the reset we needed?

Medical & Health

I recently read a fascinating article by McKinsey about how prioritising health could rebuild the economy post-pandemic. Like any disaster, the rebuild brings opportunity alongside hardship. How we learn from such times of challenge not only builds our resilience, but also knowledge. Whilst Covid-19 has undoubtedly wreaked havoc on individuals and businesses across the globe, it has equally provoked exceptional developments. At breakneck speed, we’ve reshaped ourselves. Personally and professionally, we’ve become enlightened on how to do things differently, and better, in the future.

The past few months have taught us a lot. As a country, we are stronger for the experience and will be stronger in future. We’re focusing more on community; protecting our individual health, but also being mindful of the health of those around us. 

More than ever, we know a collective approach isn’t just better, but the only way forward. Businesses have zoned in on resilience-building capabilities; understanding healthy people and teams must come before profit. With a market-wide approach to prioritising the employee, economies now have the potential to reshape and recover stronger than ever. 

This virus has also challenged our approach to care, particularly for those most vulnerable, or typically marginalised. As the data continues to highlight, high-risk groups like the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, or within low-income households, are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has further exposed deeply rooted social disparities which continue to exist the world over – glaring gaps inherent in ‘developed’ nations who should, by now, be far further evolved.  

How we learn and grow from here is critical. While we all face uncertain futures, and we know this is even more apparent for minorities. A greater focus on the health of people regardless of race, religion or economic standing will provide greater tolerances in the future. With younger generations watching how we lead through this – here’s hoping we’ll gift them a future marked by a truly people, community and health-focused way of life.  

As we rally for the second half of 2020, let’s not let this virus infect our spirit. Instead, let’s take heart from the exponential learnings, progress and innovations already achieved. In the local health sector we’re already reaping the rewards of a rapid TeleHealth and digital prescriptions rollout, and patient management systems have been transformed by the integration of data analytics. Hospital workforces are now better equipped to cope through peak periods than ever before. Open access to live data and case tracing has been a huge advantage for us here in Australia, helping us to isolate cases as quickly as possible. Longer term, the surge in research and med-tech funding across 2020 is set to deliver incredible returns.

As a nation, I’m looking forward to seeing how we seize the many opportunities brought about by this wild virus. If we’re truly prepared to work together, to care for all members of society through a community-wide approach, our health, wellbeing and economy will enjoy worthy returns for years to come.

 

Trent Woodward – Head of Health & Medical

Corporate Insurance & Risk Solutions

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

The Right Advice for the Road to Recovery: Indemnity Insurance Advice for Medical Physicians

Medical & Health

Recent months have brought relentless uncertainty and change to our lives, and the world of medicine has been far from immune. With the gradual resumption of elective surgeries, some promising winds of (more) change have surfaced, but for the majority of physicians, the question of “When will my business return to pre-pandemic levels?” remains. With surgical admissions sitting at record-breaking lows, and FY21 looming, the need for sound advice on individual medical indemnity policies has never been more critical.

 

I’m a medical practitioner…

How does indemnity insurance advice work?

Medical defence organisations within Australia (MDO) Avant, NDA National, MIPS, MIGA are only permitted to provide general advice. The onus of responsibility is on the practitioner to ensure they have the correct billings, and they declare their activities correctly. If such details are incorrect, the practitioner’s policy may not respond.

 

My revenue has plummeted – how should my insurance respond?

In recent months of lockdown, many specialist practitioners have experienced major reductions in revenue, with no clear sign of when this might abate. Accordingly, now is the time for practitioners to review their indemnity insurance cover and revisit the market to secure a policy truly tailored to their ‘new norm’ needs.

 

Should I go direct to insurers? 

Liaising directly with insurers can be problematic for practitioners in the following ways:

  • Missing out on policy features or incentives from other providers which might be better suited to their operations
  • Failure to update their underwriting information, which may result in gaps in cover due to the following:
    • Increased or decreased billings are often unaccounted for on renewal policies and simply ‘rolled over’ on expiring terms
    • The practitioner’s billings in the Public and Private sector not being correctly allocated
    • A practitioner’s ‘retroactive’ date may be incorrectly recorded or amended over the years without them knowing
    • The practitioner’s work/category of practice may have changed over the insured period
    • An inadequate appraisal of key considerations such as whether the doctor is performing tasks outside of categories stated on the policy, or whether they have plans to move into a new category over the coming months. 

 

Cashflow management

Healthy cashflow is critical to any successful business, so it’s important to understand the options available to support your financial viability through this phase. A robust cashflow management plan will provide the critical foundations from which your business can function, survive and potentially even thrive through COVID-19 and beyond. As businesses continue to face challenging financial circumstances, efforts should be made to avoid paying large insurance premiums upfront. We recommend exploring all options with your broker to secure the best solution for your business through 2020 and beyond.

 

I’ve been with my insurer for a while – won’t they reward me for this?

Unfortunately loyalty does not always equal enhancements. We often see little to no flexibility on premiums, or hidden clauses within policies which don’t favour the practitioner.

 

Won’t changing providers be a headache? 

Many practitioners fear switching providers due to potential penalty, but this is one of many myths around the process which deserve debunking.

 

What are my options? 

Medical indemnity products in Australia offer fantastic coverage for doctors. Whilst the coverage options are quite similar, slight nuances in policy wordings can make a huge difference. How MDOs handle claims is an equally critical consideration; without adequate discretion, detail and care, a practitioner’s reputation and / or future earning potential can be quickly compromised.

 

General vs specialist insurance advice…

As with medical advice, the quality of advice available to support practitioners with their insurance options varies greatly. Working with a trusted, specialised broker can not only deliver a sharper, truly tailored policy for your business, but peace of mind. General advice is general, and if doctors are looking for more certainty in uncertain times, a medical indemnity specialist means you have a powerful asset at the ready.

 

Honan – Specialist advice 

At no additional cost to practitioners for the individual medical indemnity, Honan is proud to offer a range of services to support medical physicians with their insurance. From individual medical indemnity insurance to life and salary protection, we also offer medical providers unlimited access to our private client division for assistance with general insurance as well. A one-stop shop means our clients receive top advice, certainty, and it saves you time and money.

Our appraisal of your business will include a detailed report of our recommendations, including a forensic analysis of wordings and claims management for each provider. We’re a completely independent, objective broker committed to serving the best interests of the medical physician at all times.

 

With you all the way

From understanding the challenges faced by medical physicians, and advising on how to prepare for the future, we are only a call or email away.

Our Honan team is ready to support you with a comprehensive review of your individual medical indemnity policy, to mitigate your risk and secure the cover you need to operate with confidence through the months and years ahead.

We look forward to working with you.

 

 

Trent Woodward – Head of Client Service (SA) – Corporate Insurance & Risk Solutions

Industry Leader – Health & Medical

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

Powering Up & Switching Off: 4 Tips for #ISO Survival

Medical & Health

Imagine this: you wake up in the morning, you shower, get dressed and promptly head out the door for work.

Now this: you wake up in the morning, you reach for your phone, open your inbox and so begins the working day …

 

With #isolife now in full swing, the former may now seem like a distant memory. Between new competing demands, new environments, and new office comrades (ahem, family), the lines between ‘work-work’, ‘home-work’, and genuine downtime have never been more blurry. At times you may even feel the lines between morning, afternoon and evening barely exist. So how on earth do we maintain productivity? 

At Honan, we have a few tricks up our sleeve. Here are our top 4 tips for powering up, and switching off through this wild and weird world of #iso.

 

1. Start with space

The first few #iso weeks were a major adjustment period for most of us, with fundamentals of mere survival occupying most of our thinking. “Do I have what I need?”, “Am I feeling ok?”, “Is my wifi working?” “Have I been hygienic enough?” 

Because we are context-based creatures, our physical space is core to our ability to function well. For this reason, we have encouraged our team to find a designated workspace within their home. While not all of us have the luxury of a discreet ‘home office’, setting a specific space on the kitchen or dining table offers a structured place to ‘set up station’. If you shift to working from the couch or bed, you’ll quickly associate those spots with work. Our Workplace Risk team recently hosted a webinar on workspace safety and working ergonomically, complete with a ‘working from home’ checklist. Give it a shot.

 

2. Write a daily routine

Working in an office means you benefit from a tacit structure or sequence to the day. In psychology, this is called an ‘initiation’ sequence – it gets the brain ready to focus. Having a simple start-up routine, such as sitting in the same spot, checking your emails, saying ‘hi’ to your team over chat, signals the beginning of your day. 

Similarly, we have kept our usual company check-ins and meetings consistent in the calendar, yet fluid in their delivery. Just as they would in the office, our team meetings and briefings are attended with rigour and respect. We are also encouraging our people to take regular breaks, ‘rise and recharge’, and even join us for a weekly virtual HIIT session.

 

3. Staying accountable and connected

It’s only human to struggle with accountability when working remotely. It can be difficult to demonstrate our output, or even convey our emotional state when not in the physical presence of others. At times, isolation can hit us in ways we don’t expect. Grief might kick us in the guts one day, and nothing but smiles the next. That’s why checking in with your colleagues is so important. Just because your workmate was great today, it may not be the case tomorrow. At Honan, we’ve implemented a Buddy Program to ensure all staff have someone to reach out to with the good, the bad or the ugly – day in, day out.

Recognition is equally important when working remotely. At Honan, we’re fortunate to have a leadership team with a well-oiled practise of congratulating, and thanking colleagues for great work. The simple act of celebrating the wins and recognising the accomplishments of your subordinates goes a long way. It can turn their day around, galvanise their faith in the business, and mobilise energies for future efforts.  

 

4. Time for tools down 

Social connection is extra welcome through times like these. We’ve been using the lightness of laughter to wrap up each week with a company-wide Zoom meeting. This ‘tools down’ ritual has quickly become a weekly highlight, and brought us closer together than ever. Whether it’s a ‘power up’ or ‘tools down’ initiative, brand rituals are a simple but powerful way to maintain motivation and connectedness amongst your people. Our Friday afternoon sessions are also our time to announce the winners of our weekly working from home contests; which have ranged from creative rounds of charades, to promoting each other’s wellness activities.  

 

We’re with you all the way

As always, we’re here to listen, advise and support you through this time. To further support you and your people through #iso, here’s a few of our recommended resources:

 

Australian Psychological Society – Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety

Gallup – How to Keep Remote Worker Wellbeing High

Gartner – 9 Tips for Managing Remote Employees

 

Navigating a New ‘BAU’: Key Impacts & Opportunities for Australia’s Healthcare Industry

Medical & Health

These are unprecedented times for almost every industry, and perhaps none more than healthcare. For this critical community backbone, the ‘return to normal’ is unknown – we’re not clear on when it will arrive, or what it will look like. 

Private hospitals and day surgeries have been impacted by COVID-19 in many and varied ways, and while the resumption of elective procedures from April 28 is a positive step, this next phase will also bring new challenges. 

In the following article, we’ll share 4 key tactics to support healthcare providers and practitioners in their return to a different kind of ‘BAU’, together with some new opportunities on the horizon.  

 

Review Procedures & Risk Management 

With constantly changing external conditions (economic, health, legislative and more), now is the time to review risk management procedures. Whilst the world has taken a social-distancing ‘step back’, business risks remain, and may even increase. In cyber crime, for instance, we’re seeing unprecedented activity across all sectors, and the medical industry is no exception. To support providers in reviewing their online systems and processes, we’ve assembled some tips and resources to mitigate cyber risk exposure

Alongside digital platforms, healthcare providers should review further areas of the business such as workplace risks, together with Director and officer or management liability exposures. Following these reviews, healthcare providers should action amendments or upgrades to relevant systems accordingly.

 

Staff Wellbeing

Your people are undoubtedly your biggest asset, which from a risk perspective means they can also be your greatest liabilities. With a daunting list of unknowns and uncontrollables to navigate, anxiety and stress is sky high across the community. Businesses must be mindful of such pressures and ready to support their people through them. Regularly checking on your team’s wellbeing can make a significant difference in their capacity to cope through challenge and change. Read more about how Telehealth and Employee Assistance Programs can help to support your people.

 

Cashflow Management

Healthy cashflow is critical to any successful business, so it’s important to understand the options available to support your financial viability through this phase. A robust cashflow management plan will provide the critical foundations from which your business can function, survive and potentially even thrive through COVID-19 and beyond. As businesses continue to face challenging financial circumstances, efforts should be made to avoid paying large insurance premiums upfront. We recommend exploring all options with your broker to secure the best solution for your business through 2020 and beyond.

 

Build Strong, Sustainable Relationships

Through this time, the relationships you hold are more powerful than ever. As the saying goes, ‘your network is your net-worth’, and in times of crisis, this rings truer than true. When it comes to tackling unchartered waters, be sure to review your network of current providers, collaborators and brand allies alike. Which ones are qualified, ready and willing to support you through this chapter? Which ones will deliver you the greatest return, and which ones truly know your business, your people and pressures? Maintaining regular contact with your network, and establishing clear, consistent lines of communication will offer invaluable counsel and confidence to both sides through COVID-19. If you’re not comfortable calling on your network at such a time, then a solid relationship audit and / or ‘connection cleanse’ is likely in order. It might even be time to rebuild your list of brand buddies. 

 

New Opportunities

There’s nothing quite like a global crisis to ignite rapid innovation. The significant challenge and change faced by the medical industry in recent months will also pave way for exciting opportunities. The fast tracking of Telehealth is a powerful initial example of this, with a further extension of the platform – electronic prescribing – set to come next. This new Federal Government initiative works by generating a QR code which is sent directly to a patient’s device for use. In response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of Health has expedited the launch of electronic prescribing, with an anticipated ‘in practice’ rollout by May 2020. This digital innovation will bring valuable operational efficiencies to sectors such as Aged Care and Pharmacy

In recent months we’ve also seen incredible investment in the global medi-tech industry. Such funding – particularly toward digital therapeutics – is tipped to bring a renaissance to the sector, with exponential returns for sufferers of common conditions like Type 2 diabetes, autism, addiction, and musculoskeletal injuries to name a few. 

 

With you all the way

From understanding the challenges faced by your business, and advising on how to prepare for the future, we’re only a call away. Our Honan team is ready to support you with a comprehensive review of your business, to mitigate your risk and secure the cover you need to operate with confidence through the months and years ahead. 

 

Please reach out – we’d love to hear from you. 

 

 

Trent Woodward – Head of Client Service (SA) – Corporate Insurance & Risk Solutions

Industry Leader – Health & Medical

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

COVID-19: Business Interruption, Contingency and Workplace Risk

Agriculture

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the Coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. We sympathise with everyone who has been impacted by the virus and Honan Insurance Group have implemented additional resources and contingency planning to ensure that we remain able to provide advice, insurance and support to our clients as the situation develops.

 

As the impact of COVID-19 on local and international economies continues to evolve, we highlight to all clients the need for management to consider financial, strategic and business risks to operations. In this article, we examine the key areas we have received the most queries about: Property and Business Interruption, Business Contingency and Workplace Risk.

 

Industrial Special Risks* (Property and Business Interruption) Insurance & COVID-19 

(Potential Policy Response under ISR Mark IV Policy)

It is expected that many businesses will suffer disruption as a result of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).   With the situation changing rapidly and restrictions on the movement and gathering of people (both at local level and internationally), there is no doubt many companies will suffer from loss of revenue and/or additional expense.

 

Property Damage

Generally, property policies (including office risks) cover physical loss, destruction or damage to insured property resulting from a covered peril (all risks).  In the case of the Coronavirus, the ISR (Mark IV) policy exclusion 4(a) excludes physical loss destruction or damage occasioned by or happening through disease.  Office-related risks also have very similar exclusions. The ISR policy can include a myriad of endorsements with some coverage writebacks for costs to clean-up a site (where required by order of a public authority), however, this would need to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

 

Business Interruption

An ISR insurance policy extends to include under Section 2 coverage for business interruption.  This cover traditionally applies only to interruption caused by an insured material damage event such as fire, storm, impact or accidental damage.

In addition, cover is extended to include closure of the business by public authority for several risks including human infectious or contagious diseases.   This coverage was designed to cover events such as an outbreak of Legionnaires disease or measles which could affect one or two buildings and a small number of businesses.  Some ISR policies can extend to provide coverage for outbreaks in a 20-50km radius from the insured location.

Specifically, in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ISR policy contains a specific exclusion for loss resulting from interruption of or interference directly or indirectly arising from or in connection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Humans or any other diseases declared to be quarantinable diseases under the Quarantine Act 1908 and subsequent amendments.

Following the H5N1 virus (avian influenza) outbreak in 2006 and the H1N1 virus (swine influenza) outbreak in 2009, insurers adopted this exclusion as a market standard position in Australia.

The Australian Quarantine Act 1908 was replaced by the Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act in 2015.  COVID-19 was added to the Act as a listed (quarantinable) human disease on 21 January 2020, under Biosecurity (Listed Human Diseases) Amendment Determination 2020 (Cth) F2020L00037.

 

Listed Human Diseases under the Act are thus now:

  • Human influenza with pandemic potential
  • Plague
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome
  • Smallpox
  • Viral haemorrhagic fevers
  • Yellow Fever
  • Human Coronavirus with pandemic potential

As a result of the above, the business interruption section of your insurance will not provide cover for COVID-19 disruptions. As with any other threat it is important to consider what risk management measures you can introduce to mitigate the risk to your staff, customers and business.

 

Risk Management Tips: How to avoid infection

Here is a short list of ways to minimise the spread of Coronavirus

  • Practice good personal hygiene.
  • Avoid contact with anyone with or suspected of having Coronavirus.
  • Boost your immune system by eating well, exercising, having enough sleep, and keeping your stress levels under control.
  • Cancel or delay any travel until the crisis is over.

 

Recommended Actions for your organisation:

  • Implement a home quarantine regime for anyone that has travelled to an infected country or is likely to have been in contact with someone infected with Coronavirus.
  • Review and update if necessary human resource (‘HR’) policies on fitness for work including possible quarantining of employees and formalising the requirement for employees to remain off work if affected.
  • Consider or extending flexible working arrangements to reduce the likelihood of the spread of the virus in the workplace or the community.
  • Update travel rules and arrangements limiting non-essential business travel.
  • If not already in place, provide sanitized hand washing stations for use by staff and visitors.
  • Review arrangements for workplace hygiene and cleaning protocols including “cough and sneeze” etiquette.
  • Protect the mental wellbeing of employees concerned about the Coronavirus.
  • Ensure clear and honest communication to employees on their welfare.

 

Keep Informed

Everyone should remain alert for updates and advice from the relevant authorities on additional steps to manage the spread of the disease. The health department in each state is providing excellent resources and advice and regular updates. Before travelling, check for and take the advice of any travel warnings on smartraveller.gov.au.

 

Business Continuity Management Planning

A pandemic is just one risk facing modern organisations.   Having a fully documented and exercised business continuity management plan is important for every business.  Honan has resources to assist you in developing a business continuity plan and please speak to your Client Manager for further information.

*Property/Office/Business Interruption

 

Business Contingency

The Coronavirus may impact revenue for businesses through:

  • Production slowdown & disruption to workforce (sick or quarantined employees)
  • Disruption to Supply chains and supplier services
  • Decrease (or increase) in demand for stock
  • Large scale closures of consumer markets and public spaces due to quarantine
  • Delays in customers paying outstanding invoices within normal trading terms
  • Economic slowdown on global and local scale

 

Whilst there is coverage available under Corporate and Business Travel insurance policies in certain circumstances, there is limited cover available under most standard General Insurance policies for loss of trade and interruption to business operations.

As a general rule, it is not viable for most insurance markets and products to cover “global pandemics” as an insurable event. This is because the financial impacts of a pandemic are not quantifiable, meaning risk cannot be priced accurately or sustainably by insurers. If you do suffer a loss, please contact our team to discuss the specific circumstances and how your policy may respond.

Whilst insurance cover availability may be limited, businesses can prepare.  We would strongly recommend formation of a working committee to evaluate the impact to business as conditions continue to evolve, with accountability to the board or executive team.

 

Considerations for a COVID-19 working group should include:

  • Review of policies, procedures and protocols in place to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees and prevent further risk of spread of COVID-19 within the workforce and community.
  • Assess venerability of IT Infrastructure (including stress-testing) for an organisation’s ‘Work from Home’ capabilities in the event of premises closure/staff quarantine
  • Consider the impact on supplier and customer contracts to meet delivery/service obligations from both parties (how Contractual Penalties & Force Majeure clauses may be applied)
  • Evaluation of possible supply chain disruptions and how these can be mitigated or bypassed through appropriate work arounds and contingency planning
  • Evaluation and stress testing of stock levels and planning for inventory shortage as supply from China recommences operations
  • Review ability to support alternative revenue streams that are not as severely impacted by COVID-19
  • Review communications with key customers and other stakeholders to maintain relationships and manage challenges in a sensible, commercial & collaborative manner
  • Review credit and debt facilities to ensure that cash is available in the short term to manage financial impacts and support increased business restart
  • Communicate with creditors if a reduction in revenue has the potential to impact on cash flow and financial obligations.

 

 

Workplace Risk: Workers’ Compensation and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

There has been much discussion around the exposure and potential liability under Workers’ Compensation should an employee or contractor contract Coronavirus.

As outlined by Safe Work Australia (2020), Workers’ Compensation arrangements differ across schemes, however there are common threshold requirements that would apply in the case of COVID-19:

  • that the worker is covered by the scheme, either as an employee or a deemed worker
  • that they have an injury, illness or disease of a kind covered by the scheme, and
  • that their injury, illness or disease arose out of, or in the course of, their employment.

Compared to work-related injuries, it is difficult to prove that a disease was contracted in, or caused by particular employment. In the case of a virus such as COVID-19, establishing the time and place of contraction may become increasingly hard. We have sought clarity from our legal partners and obtained publications from the governing state regulators. Their view is it will be challenging to prove workplace exposure to Coronavirus as questions will arise as to the exact time and place of contraction.

For coverage to exist, a determining authority would need to be satisfied that the employment significantly contributed to the employee contracting the virus. For viruses, it can be difficult to accurately determine the exact time and place of transmission. As a result, it may be difficult to determine that employment significantly contributed to the virus.

However, where an employee’s employment puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus the significant contribution test may be easier to meet. For example, if the employment involves:

  • travel to an area with a known viral outbreak
  • activities that include engagement or interaction with people who have contracted the virus
  • activities that contravene Department of Health recommendations.

Each workplace illness would need to be considered on its individual merits, having regard to the individual circumstances and evidence in relation to the claim. More information is available here: Comcare Australia.

Deeming an illness or disease as work related and unique to the workplace may require court intervention to distinguish medical opinion from legal facts. There is no liability determination available to declare an illness or disease compensable or non-compensable; each case is determined on its own merits and circumstances.

Although you may not be able to eliminate the potential risk of employees contracting Coronavirus while carrying out work, you must do what is reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of employees contracting Coronavirus.

 

Coverage while travelling overseas for work

Any liability or workplace contribution applies to both employees working overseas and those working within Australia. Each case will be determined on its own merits and circumstances.

Note: For international employees engaged locally, state or country specific legislative conditions will apply. Queries should be directed to Honan. Depending on the state of urgency, travel restrictions and periods of self-isolation may need to be considered and communicated to all employees and contractors.

 

Employer Support

It is important that employers refer to internal policies and procedures to ensure measures for employee safety are in place. Honan has resources to actively advise on Workplace Risk exposure, as well as Legal and Work Health and Safety partners who can assist with ongoing management of this changing environment.

 

All companies will need to keep up to date in what is evolving environment.  Please see below some resources to do so:

Australian Government Department of Health

Safe Work Australia

Smartraveller

McKinsey & Company have released a briefing paper (9th March 2020) which provides some insight into possible global economic impact as well as some common steps that can/need to be taken in preparation for businesses being affected and the formation of a working group: link here.

For any additional queries or concerns, please contact your Honan client manager.

 

*Property/Office/Business Interruption

The advice in this paper is general in nature. While the utmost care has been taken in the preparation of this preliminary advice or opinion, you use it at your own risk.

If you have difficulty reading and/or understanding the cover provided in the policy(ies) that you have please contact your Client Manager.

Health care industry hit by more cyber breaches than any other sector in Australia

Medical & Health

Unbelievably only 33% of the health care industry protect themselves from a cyber breach and the outcomes of this can be devastating.

 

Health Service Providers experience more Cyber breaches than any other sector in Australia. These breaches can cost up to $400 a patient, and yet, only 33 percent of the industry has taken the preventative measure of protecting themselves properly by taking out Cyber Insurance. 

With billions of people across the world entrusting healthcare organizations to protect their identities, and these same organisations relying on their critical infrastructure to secure it all, it becomes crucial to not just have the right cybersecurity solution in place to stop an attack before it has a catastrophic impact, but to ensure they are able to prevent future attacks from ever happening.

Melbourne-based cardiology group The Melbourne Heart Group fell victim to a ransomware attack early this year. 15,000 electronic medical records were hacked and scrambled and held to ransom meaning that no one was able to access any of the patient’s data including The Melbourne Heart Group itself. 

Reports indicated that it was likely a result of someone browsing a malicious website or clicking on a malicious link. It took weeks to repair the breach and the company experienced media scrutiny over the extend of the breach and the IT security it had in place to protect its patient’s details. 

This case is a timely reminder that health care companies cannot afford to rely solely on their IT security software in this era of cybercrime. For complete protection, companies need to look towards their insurance broker for guidance on how to manage their cyber risk  

https://www.oaic.gov.au/resources/privacy-law/privacy-act/notifiable-data-breaches-scheme/quarterly-statistics/notifiable-data-breaches-quarterly-statistics-report-1-january-31-march-2019.pdf

The strength of Australia’s health and medical industry

Medical & Health

The last 10 years has seen the Australian medical and health industry grow exponentially. What can we expect in the next 10 years for this dynamic industry?

 

Over the past decade, Australia’s health and medical industry has grown dramatically in size and reputation for its world leading technology, innovation, high professional skills, advanced research, development and robust health system.

It is characterised by a small number of global multinational companies (approximately 20 per cent of the industry) and a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (80 per cent of the industry).

The health and medical industry is represented by manufacturers, specialised in niche applications in the fields of cardiovascular, diagnostic, hearing, orthopaedic, respiratory devices, as well as health IT, health infrastructure, services and clinical trials. The industry is also expected to advance rapidly into new fields of science, engineering, and nanotechnology to facilitate new innovations in the biomedical sphere and an increasing convergence of physical and biological technology platforms.

The key growth areas are:

  • Medical and surgical equipment and devices
  • Health IT
  • Health infrastructure and services
  • Clinical trials

Medical and surgical equipment and devices

  • Imaging/monitoring equipment
  • Biomedical devices and implants
  • Surgical equipment, general hospital supplies
  • Diagnostic devices
  • Laboratory equipment
  • Dental equipment
  • Health-related software
  • Drug delivery

National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA)

Agriculture

Since 1988 Honan Insurance Group has been a member of the National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA), an organisation which represents the interests of the insurance broking sector in Australia.

NIBA members range from large international brokerages to small suburban brokerages and through representation, communication, information and education, NIBA ensures the insurance brokers’ interests are protected and their professional standing enhanced.

The insurance and risk business is highly regulated, and intermediaries are subject to a wide range of professional and legislative pressures. To thrive in such a demanding environment they must be able to keep pace with constant changes in the risk factors Australian businesses face.

NIBA supports its members through its lobbying, education, technical and information services and our members are recognised as having a high standard of professionalism and knowledge through ongoing educational support and technical development.

SMEs Embrace Facebook & Instagram

Agriculture

Younger small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have responded to the need of using new media technologies for business with almost 41% of SME owners under the age of 44 using social media as the primary tool for communicating with their customers, according to a new Westpac index.

The Westpac Survey was conducted with 522 Australian SME owners and decision makers who were whittled down to those who had an annual turnover of less than $5 million and under 20 employees.

The survey results were promising, with 35% of SME owners using social media to network with existing or potential customers. Further, 71% of SME owners used at least one networking channel for their business and 59% networked online.

Westpac has the following tips on how to use social media as a business tool:

1. Understand how social media can work for you and your customers

Decide if social media is right for your business by considering the time spent on maintaining the platforms, responding to posts, generating content and engaging with followers.

It is important to have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve by using social media, which platform is right for you and how it aligns your business plan and strategy.

2. Be clear on who your customers are and what you want them to do

Content is crucial to effective social media strategies – know what you are trying to say and say it clearly.

Tailor your messages so they are the appropriate length for your customers, and be clear on the call to action – it is important not to mix messages and ensure you provide links to the page where customers can purchase your products or communicate with your business.

3. Develop a social media policy for your business

Respond carefully and thoughtfully to customer posts on social media channels.

Have a process in place to ensure the responses to customers are on message and enhance their customer experience.

Source:

http://www.taxpayer.com.au/

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