In October 2020, the Daegu District Court (the "Court") rendered a decision that a non-life insurer is not obliged to pay death benefits for a death caused by COVID-19 on the ground that such death does not constitute an accidental death.
Under a non-life insurance policy, an accident refers to a sudden, external event. In this context, the Court found that blood poisoning caused by COVID-19 is not an ″injury caused by sudden, exogenous accident,″ considering that (i) a death caused by COVID-19 cannot be considered an external event given that COVID-19 spreads through day-to-day activities, (ii) the policyholder at issue may have died due to his internal underlying conditions, and (iii) COVID-19 falls in the category of illnesses under applicable law.
In contrast to the Financial Supervisory Service′s Standard Life Insurance Policy Clauses, which were amended on July 31, 2020 to expressly include deaths caused by COVID-19 in the category of accidental death, the above Court decision found that a death caused by COVID-19 does not constitute a death caused by injury in the context of non-life insurance.
This Court decision is meaningful in that it is the first court decision finding that deaths caused by COVID-19 are not deaths caused by injuries. There had been no court precedent addressing whether infection caused by an external virus or bacteria, such as COVID-19, can constitute an ″injury″ in the context of non-life insurance.