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Is your company covered for a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak?

November 2020

Guest Blog by Sean Glover, Aynsley Insurance Brokers.

Ensuring  that the right cover is in place for out clients is vital. At Aynsley Insurance, the customers’ needs are always at the top of the list when we provide cover and we know that these needs can be complex.

One area where there’s a mixed picture in terms of protection, is Legionnaires’ Disease. Caused by a growth of legionella bacteria, Legionnaires’ Disease is a severe form pf pneumonia. People contract it by inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols), suspended in the air.

All water systems in buildings have the potential to be a breeding ground for the bacteria and water systems should be carefully managed, with companies taking professional advice from experts such as SAS Waster Ltd.

Not every Public Liability insurance policy will automatically protect your company against an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease, or similar conditions such as Pontiac Fever.

Therefore, we would advise building owners to check their policies and consider adding a specific clause on Legionnaires’ Disease.

Do not simply assume that you are covered under your standard policy.

What’s the risk?

Public Health England figures for 2019 showed 503 cases in that 12 month period. While many may not have involved contracting the disease in a workplace, it is wise to ensure you are covered against a claim.

Some businesses are more vulnerable than others. For example, health spas and holiday parks. particularly where hot tubs are in use. The risks can be minimised if companies follow good practice and ensure staff are aware of legionella bacteria and that regular cleaning and testing regimes are in place.

Special attention should be given when buildings are closed and this has been demonstrated during the Coronavirus lockdown in 2020.

A risk assessment is required by law and companies must be able to prove that they have sought competent advice.

The stakes can, unfortunately, be extremely high. For example, Bupa were fined £3m after a resident in a care home died. The court heard that Bupa failed to control and monitor the hot and cold water systems at the Hutton Village Nursing Home, in Brentwood, during refurbishment works and failed to properly train staff who were responsible for overseeing legionella control and measuring water temperatures.

The Society of Insurance Broking has begun to raise awareness on cover for Legionnaires’ Disease, Board member Stuar Steed said: “Many business owners, especially in the SME arena, will be unaware that not all public liability insurance policies provide cover for Legionnaires’ Disease. As we know, if an outbreak is confirmed, then it could cause not only a financial penalty, but potentially a very severe reputational effect from which many businesses could struggle to recover.”

Aynsley insurance is based at Piccadilly, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. For further information, please see

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