Possible Increase in Legionella Claims Attributed to COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Requirements
Since early March 2020, many states have required Shelter-in-Place requirements for non-essential businesses/workers. The absence in building use could promote a decrease in water usage, which could lead to stagnant water conditions. The stagnant water conditions within buildings that have not used their water system, or only used their system on a limited basis, could create a breeding ground for bacteria, especially Legionella.
Although the majority of the buildings are on municipal water supply, absence or decrease in use does not promote a complete flushing of the water piping system, and the disinfectants in the water (e.g., chlorine) could dissipate. Legionella has an approximate incubating time of 7 to 10 days with a temperature of at least 68°F. Many of the buildings affected by the Shelter-in-Place requirements have been shut down for 30 to 45 days. Without a flow of water, the temperatures within the pipes have the potential to fluctuate to a more ideal temperature range (77°F-108°F), which could promote Legionella growth.
Until the COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place requirements are removed, Legionella has the ability to become present in the water systems and will likely be identified upon the system’s use. The reuse will bring in disinfectants, but once the pathogen is present, it may not be removed easily and could cause bodily injury to many.
What can Roux do to help? From a claims perspective, we can evaluate testing data to determine if Legionella is present in a water system, provide regulatory guidance for a remedial option, and provide expertise in the evaluation of the remediation costs incurred and whether they are considered reasonable and customary. From an underwriting perspective, Roux can evaluate the risk exposures for Legionella to be present associated with a new or renewal insurance policy. To request more information or assistance from our experts on this matter, please fill out the form below.