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Coronavirus: What does my insurance cover?

The coronavirus is raising lots of new questions about insurance coverage. Which of your insurance policies will pay for what? And what is the legal situation? Read below for answers.

 

PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS

What is the legal situation for me as an employee?

 

As at 3 November 2020

Further information is available at the links indicated.

 

 

Employment law

Can my employer require me to work from home?

 

In general, that depends on your employment contract. If this option is specified, your employer can oblige you to work from home, even for an extended period of time. In light of the current situation (COVID-19), your employer can order you to work from home temporarily in line with its legal right of instruction, provided this is reasonable for the affected employees in each individual case, since it is thus protecting its employees from becoming infected.

 

 

Can I stay at home because I’m afraid of being infected?

 

No. Fear alone is not enough. If your employer reduces the risk of infection as much as possible – in other words, if it is therefore reasonable for you to work – and the authorities have not issued an order to this effect, you must go to work. Otherwise it would constitute an unjustified refusal to work. You would lose your entitlement to continued payment of salary and under certain circumstances you could even be dismissed without notice. However, employers are required to implement appropriate measures to protect the health of their employees.

 

 

Am I entitled to still receive my salary if I am placed under quarantine either during or upon my return from my holidays?

 

If an employee is not able to return to work as scheduled or is placed under quarantine by order of a public official or medical professional after returning from a risk area, the absence is considered to be the fault of the employee. The employer is therefore not required to pay salary, unless it is possible for the employee to continue working on a home office basis. Travel to risk areas for compelling personal reasons may be treated as an exception. On the other hand, if the employer mandates quarantine for an employee after a trip to a non-risk area, the absence is not the fault of the employee, and the employer must continue to pay the employee’s salary.

 

 

What if my child gets sick?

 

The law states that if a child is sick and requires care, the father or mother may stay home for up to three days to care for the child – this rule applies to each case pursuant to Art. 36, para. 3 of the Swiss Employment Act (EmpA). In other words, each new illness and each child are counted separately. Pursuant to the Employment Act, a medical certificate must be presented. In addition, the rule only applies to children up to the age of 15. If you require more time for care and cannot arrange another solution, you should discuss the situation with your employer.

 

Our tip: The babysitter service offered by the Swiss Red Cross

 

 

How much salary will I receive as an employee if my employer has registered for short-time work?

 

You will receive short-time working compensation for your loss of working hours. It amounts to 80% of the earnings lost. This means 80% of the lost salary.

 

Sample calculation for a plasterer: 

  • Insured salary CHF 6,000
  • In simple terms, the insured salary is the salary from which AHV contributions are deducted. The 13th monthly salary is included, but work-related expenses are not.

 

Short-time work 50% 50% salary from employer 3,000
  80% of 50% (short-time work compensation) 2,400
  Total 5,400

You can find our sources and further information about short-time work here.

 

 

Travel law

I have Generali travel insurance and need to cancel or interrupt my trip. Will you cover this?

 

In the current exceptional situation we are examining each individual case carefully.

 

Please note: According to the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 has been considered a pandemic since 11 March 2020. All events associated with COVID-19 after this date are excluded. If you have booked your trip after this date or if you book it newly, travel cancellations due to the coronavirus are not covered.

 

Please check the following points:

  • If you booked a package tour through a tour operator, they will be liable under the Federal Act on Package Travel. Please contact your tour operator (travel agency, etc.).
  • If you booked your trip independently, you are obliged to minimise your losses. This means that you should contact airlines, hotel platforms, car rental firms, etc. in good time to check whether there is any way to cancel or delay your booking.
  • If you have a travel insurance policy with Generali, regardless of the insurance product and contractual conditions and have taken the above procedure into account, then please contact us at the earliest 2 weeks before the start of the trip.

 

Please call us on 0848 800 400 or contact us online here, and we will be happy to help you.

 

 

Can the airline simply rebook booked flights or is it obliged to provide a refund?

 

If a flight is cancelled, airlines are obliged to offer passengers the following:

  • a comparable alternative flight at the earliest possible date (rebooking) or at a later date at the passenger’s request;
  • or a full refund of the ticket costs, if you do not wish a rebooking.

 

If you decide that you no longer wish to travel on a flight you have booked:

  • The Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) recommends that you contact your travel agent or the airline.
  • FOCA is not responsible if passengers voluntarily choose not to take their flight. The general terms and conditions of the respective airline apply.
  • Ticket refunds are normally excluded, except for airport taxes. Due to the exceptional situation, some airlines are offering extensive, free rebooking and refund options as a gesture of goodwill.

 

You can find our sources and further information about airline passenger rights here

 

 

BUSINESS CUSTOMERS

How is my company insured?

 

The coronavirus raises many questions about your insurance coverage. Here we provide the most important answers to your questions as a business customer.

 

As at 3 November 2020

Further information is available at the links indicated.

 

 

My company has taken out property insurance for lost sales. Is this insurance cover also valid in connection with the coronavirus?

 

Coverage for loss or damage in the event of business interruption or supply chain disruption only applies if the property damage occurred as a result of fire, water or theft. Business interruptions without property damage of this kind are not insured. Consequently, business interruptions due to the coronavirus are not covered.

 

 

Tenancy law

How does my insurance premium change if my company’s sales, payroll, headcount or vehicle fleet decrease during the Corona crisis?

 

For premiums paid until 31 December 2020: At the end of your financial year, you report the final figures to us using the form provided. If you have made personnel changes because of Covid-19, we will take this into account in your final statement for 2020 and offset it against the premium you have already paid. We thus ensure that your premium is not too high and you do not have unnecessary expenses.

 

For open premium instalments from 1 April 2020: It is possible to adjust the payroll amount or sales immediately – even retroactively as at 1 January 2020. This rule does not apply to fleet flat-rate contracts.

 

 

As an SME owner, do I still have to pay the rent for my business premises in the current situation?

 

On 7 October 2020, the task force appointed by the Federal Council to address the issue of commercial rents presented its monitoring report on commercial rents in the current COVID-19 situation. The report stated that there is currently too little evidence of major difficulties with respect to commercial rents to warrant action. This is particularly due to the many agreements reached between the rental parties on rent reductions. The task force will continue to monitor the situation, however, and share information with the cantons. 

 

Our tip: Until there is a final decision on this matter, you should not suspend your rent without first discussing it with your landlord. Otherwise, your landlord could terminate the rental contract due to late payment. Moreover, it would create ill feeling unnecessarily. An open discussion is the best solution, because there is a strong sense of solidarity at the moment. 

 

 

As an SME, can I terminate the rental contract extraordinarily due to the current situation?

 

The courts have not yet made any decisions with regard to the coronavirus situation. In fact, Article 266g of the Swiss Code of Obligations sets out the possibility of terminating the current rental agreement at any time by giving 6 months’ notice. The tenant must prove that he/she has good cause for doing so. If the tenant can prove that it is unreasonable to continue the business due to the current situation, this could constitute good cause in accordance with Article 266g of the Swiss Code of Obligations. A decision of federally appointed task force on commercial rents will, of course, prevail.

 

 

Employment law

Will daily sickness allowance insurance pay benefits if a person falls sick from the coronavirus?

 

If someone is unable to work due to the coronavirus, Generali daily sickness allowance insurance protects the employer against the consequences of its statutory continued salary payment obligation. The determining factor is the contractually agreed benefits, in particular for the waiting period. Even if an infected and insured person is placed under quarantine without displaying any symptoms of illness and is unable to work at the quarantine location, the person is considered incapable of working. A medical certificate is required in all cases.

 

 

Does daily sickness allowance insurance pay benefits if a person has been sent home as a preventive measure?

 

If an employer sends employees who have not been infected home as a preventive measure and they are unable to work from there, Generali does not cover the employer’s continued payment of salary. This does not constitute an illness pursuant to the General Policy Conditions.

 

 

An employee’s child was sent home from school because they had a bad cough. Do I have to pay salaries if employees are looking after their children at home and are therefore unable to work?

 

If an employee has a medical certificate for his or her child, as an employer you are obliged to release one parent for up to three days. If medically necessary and justified, the period of absence may be extended so that the employee can stay at home longer with the child. In this case as well, a medical certificate is required for the sick child.

 

However, employees also have a duty of care. This means that employees must make every effort to prevent absences as far as possible and organise care for their children, for example.

 

 

As a company owner, can I decide to have company holidays or a holiday ban in a pandemic?

 

No. This is generally not possible, although an employer can determine the timing of holidays in accordance with the law. However, the employer must listen to the employee and take his/her wishes into account. The employee also has a right to early allocation of holidays – usually three months in advance.

 

The employer may require the employee to postpone holidays that have already been agreed. In this case, however, the employer must prove that there are serious grounds for doing so – urgent and unforeseen operational needs. Moreover, in such a case, the employer must compensate the employee for any loss or damage he/she incurs. This could be cancellation costs, for example.

 

 

I would like to close my business because I’m worried about the pandemic. What are my duties as an employer?

 

In this case, the employer is obliged to continue to pay the salaries of the employees concerned. Employees do not have to work off the time afterwards, except in the case of very short company closures.

 

 

What are the consequences for the continued payment of salaries if a company is closed down due to an official order?

 

The company bears the operational and economic risk. Employees are therefore entitled to continued payment of their salaries, even if this places a heavy burden on the employer. However, they may be obliged to make up for the “lost” working hours under certain circumstances, under their duty of loyalty.

 

 

Do I have to grant my employees a certain number of vacation days to carry over to 2021 or can employers insist on vacation being taken in 2020?

 

If vacation is granted per calendar year (not per year of service), employers do not have to allow vacation to be carried forward to 2021. Employers can insist on vacation which falls within the 2020 calendar year being taken in 2020. As a general rule, employers determine the timing of vacation, although the needs of the employee must also be considered. Vacation must be allocated in good time so that employees can plan their holidays. Three months in advance is the general rule of thumb. However, some are of the opinion that exceptions may be made in the current situation.