The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947. Although the primary form of
transmission is mosquitos, there have also been reports of sexually transmitted
cases of Zika. Adults infected with Zika
virus may not display any symptoms. If they do manifest symptoms, they range
from fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache. These
symptoms can last for several days to a week and are commonly confused as being
According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of late October, there were 32,814
confirmed Zika cases in the U.S., including 4,091 cases in the continental U.S.
and 28,723 confirmed cases in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S.
Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
Source (https://www.cdc.gov/zika/intheus/maps-zika-us.html) In Florida, the number of reported Zika cases to date has risen
to 1,144, with 915 stemming from people who brought the virus into the state
after being infected elsewhere. Florida has had three identified Zika Zones
where there have been local transmission of Zika virus. The first Zika Zone in
Wynwood was announced on September 19, 2016. The Wynwood Zika Zone was
originally about one square mile. After 45 days of localized spraying and
public quarantine announcements, the Zika Zone designation was lifted when was
no evidence was found of active Zika transmission. The second identified Zika
Zone is about 4.5 square miles in Miami Beach within the boundaries of 8th and
The third Zika Zone is about one square mile within the
boundaries of NW 79th Street to the North, NW 63rd Street to the South, NW 10th
Avenue to the West and North Miami Avenue to the East.
The spread of Zika is not only terrifying for overall public
health and safety, but this well-publicized health problem also has a chilling
effect on Florida’s lifeline, tourism. In 2012, Florida welcomed 89.3 million
visitors who spent $71.8 billion. In 2014, the state tourism data estimated 97.3 million people visited
Florida. In the first six months of 2015, Florida welcomed 54.1 million
visitors. The majority of those tourists (about 96%) come into the state
through Miami. Miami International Airport is the state's busiest for
international travelers, who make up 70 percent of all foreign visitors to
Florida annually. That overall revenue comes from individualized tourism, as
well as the appeal of hosting events in Florida.
The emergence of Zika Zones in South Florida has caused major
concerns for travelers and directly impacted the hospitality industry. This is
noted in the recent emergence of Zika-related event cancellation claims that
insurers are receiving. These lines of viral demarcation now become
pivotal pieces of claim and adjustment information as Zika related cancellation
claims begin to fly in.
The key to addressing these claims, as it is with all insurance-related
issues, is to perform a thorough review of the governing policy language in
determining coverage. Event cancellation policies are not standard, and the
indemnity language may be tailored to the insured’s traditional business needs.
On the one hand, you may have language that may recognize a Zika Zone as a related
peril, such as the following:
A. Cancellation of Bookings - This Policy is extended to cover a loss
sustained by the Insured resulting from the cancellation of, and/or inability
to accept booking or reservation from accommodation and/or interference with
the business at any Insured location sustained as result of the occurrence of:
2.contagious or infectious disease
5.any of the following:
of contagious and/or infectious disease
within a radius
of 25 miles of the Insured Location to the extent such Time Element loss is not
otherwise covered under this Policy such as under the Civil or Military
Authority or Ingress/Egress Extension.
Or, you may have an event cancellation policy that contains
language similar to the following:
INSURING CLAUSE - Subject
always to the terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions contained herein or
endorsed hereon: 1. This Insurance is to indemnify
the Insured for their Ascertained Net Loss should any Insured Event(s) be
necessarily Cancelled, Disrupted, Rescheduled which necessary Cancellation, Disruption or
Rescheduling is the sole and direct result of a cause not otherwise excluded
which occurs during the period of insurance and is beyond the control of both
the Insured and the Participant therein.
2. This Insurance also indemnifies
the Insured for proven additional costs or charges reasonably and necessarily
paid by the Insured to avoid or diminish a loss payable hereunder, provided
such additional costs or charges do not exceed the amount of loss thereby
avoided or diminished.
3. The Underwriters' maximum
liability shall not exceed the Limit of Indemnity stated in the Schedule for
the relevant Insured Event(s) nor the Aggregate Limit of Indemnity stated in
EXCLUSIONS - This
Insurance does not cover any loss directly or indirectly arising out of,
contributed to by, or resulting from:
20. any communicable disease or the
threat or fear of any communicable disease whether actual or perceived. A
communicable disease means an illness caused by a pathogen and transmitted from an infected
person or animal to another person or animal.
of coverage for Zika-related event/booking cancellation claims under each respective
policy will have divergent results. However, the complexity of handling these
types of claims does not cease with the analysis and application of policy
language. The process of adjusting the claim itself requires relentless
attention to detail and the ability to pilot insurers through murky waters.
The best way
to deal with these unique claims is to prepare yourself with the most effective
and knowledgeable adjustment team, which starts with knowledgeable counsel. In
these trying times of Zika Zones and cancellation confusion, Zelle is poised to
help guide insurers and its insureds in the handling of Zika-related event