As providers of insurance and risk management solutions to the social care sector since 1981, Towergate have a real understanding of how challenging 2020 has been for health and social care providers. The changing advice from central Government and regulatory agencies has required us to be more connected with our clients, and the insurers we work with, than ever before. With vaccines beginning to be administered, in an attempt to bring the Pandemic under control, one of the questions we are being asked is “will my policy respond if a member of staff refuses to be vaccinated?”.

As with many of the ever-evolving situations, is it difficult to provide a definitive yes or no answer. We have, however, spoken to those insurers we work most closely with, and a broad consensus of advice has been provided.

Each underwriter has agreed that legal liability is likely to be closely aligned with Governmental advice, and that there is an expectation that a responsible care provider would follow the most recent advice and ensure that regularly updated policies and procedures are documented and made available to their teams. Despite the introduction of vaccines, infection control practices will no doubt remain a high priority for the foreseeable future and will need to be maintained to the fullest extent possible.

In terms of claims defensibility, public liability (where cover extends to include communicable diseases) and employers liability provide protection against the policyholder’s legal liability to residents, the general public and their employees. For a claim to be successful, the claimant would need to be able to demonstrate that there had been a breach in the policyholder’s duty of care and that the virus had originated through their activities, or at the premises. This would mean a contravention of government guidelines or advice, in relation to safety at work, regarding employees and service users. If a breach or failure to follow such guidelines is found, it would be difficult to successfully defend a claim.

Even with an ongoing vaccine rollout programme, legal liability will continue to be closely tied in with the myriad of guidance from various agencies. No-one will be ‘forced’ to have the vaccine, but it is clear that robust infection control practices will need to be maintained.

There is a range of situations that providers may face, and we hope that this general guidance is of use to you. There will no doubt be times when more specific guidance is required and we will be pleased to do all we can to help. If this the case please contact Richard Hearn on 07977 491 586 or email [email protected]

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