Business Interruption Insurance: Covering the cost of payroll with your insurance policy

Last Updated:
November 16, 2020
Ole Jensen
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Among the many decisions an employer makes when considering Business Interruption Insurance is whether to insure ordinary payroll, and if so, for how long. It's important to revisit this question periodically because your business needs change year-to-year based on type of operations, plant or office locations, and the economy.

Ordinary payroll is typically defined as the entire payroll expense for all employees of the insured, except officers, executives, department managers, and employees under contract. All such payroll is covered as a necessary expense in the event of a catastrophic loss under a Business Interruption policy (i.e. wildfire).

In most policies, payroll costs are treated like any other cost incurred after the incident - if costs are necessary, they are reimbursed, However, when employees are wholly idled as a result of the incident, their payroll is not considered a necessary expense and can only be reimbursed under the Ordinary Payroll Endorsement, which goes into effect for a specified number of days (typically 30, 60, or 90 days) after the business interruption. This type of endorsement may be necessary to avoid difficulties with union contracts.

In other words, an Ordinary Payroll Endorsement is a wise investment for those businesses that have employees considered unnecessary bu policy terms but that they would like to keep on staff until after the business is back up and running.

When the Ordinary Payroll Endorsement goes into effect after an incident, it does not affect the Business Interruption policy's coverage of necessary employees' payroll. Therefore, after the number of days specified in the endorsement has passed, payroll of necessary employees continues to be covered. Of course, your insurer will require proper documentation of why employees are necessary for the continuation of the business.

An Ordinary Payroll Exclusion Endorsement can also eliminate coverage altogether for payroll expense of employees other than those necessary to the function of the business, which limits your insurance premium but could present a serious risk to your business in the event of a loss. If you choose not to insure ordinary payroll, be sure to review union contracts or other labour issues that could arise as a result of a catastrophic loss.

To understand what combination of Business Interruption Insurance coverage is right for your needs, contact Ole Jensen.