Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Commercial Risk Management > Insurance Implications of Legionnaires Disease

Recently, Legionnaires disease hit the headlines when an outbreak occurred at a southwest Florida condominium. Many community associations are now asking whether they have the proper coverage in place to protect themselves if a similar situation were to occur in their neighborhood.

What is Legionnaires Disease:

Legionnaires disease is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria. Legionella is a type of bacterium found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made water systems like showers and faucets, cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings), hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use, decorative fountains and water features, hot water tanks and heaters, and large plumbing systems. The disease doesn’t spread from person to person. Instead, Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by breathing in mist, steam, or vapor that has been contaminated with the bacteria. “One example might be from breathing in droplets sprayed from a hot tub that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected,” reports the CDC.

How to Protect Your Association:

When people are infected with legionella from an establishment, its owners and/or operators can be held liable for victims’ physical and financial suffering. Since just one uninsured lawsuit can be enough to cause financial jeopardy, having Environmental Impairment Liability insurance should be considered a cost of doing business. General Liability (GL) coverage for community associations broadly excludes pollutants and bacteria; therefore a standalone Environmental Liability policy is needed to supplement these exclusions. Environmental Liability coverage is broadly available and generally inexpensive, however forms vary greatly from one carrier to another and not all policies cover this exposure. It is therefore very important that you review the policy terms and conditions with your Client Advisor to ensure that there are no exclusions for this exposure from your policy,

These outbreaks again illustrate why communities need to do their best to prevent illnesses from the legionella bacteria, and be properly insured in the event that they occur.