COVID-19 Wrap-Up:BI Coverage Continues to Make Headlines

From new litigation to proposed legislation, debate over whether insurers should be required to pay for business losses related to the coronavirus pandemic remain in the news. 

Restaurants Sue Insurers Over Business Interruption Claims  

Proprietors of more than 10 restaurants, bars, and bakeries in Washington, D.C., joined a growing list of restaurateurs seeking coverage for pandemic-related damages, The Washington Post reports.   

The Post interviewed Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan and Triple-I non-resident scholar Michael Menapace, who explained why the suits are unreasonable and threaten the insurance industry’s solvency. 

“The insurance business works by spreading risk around so the industry isn’t hit all at once with claims,”  Kevelighan says. “A pandemic disrupts business far and wide, with no end date in sight.” 

About 40 percent of all companies have business interruption insurance, and most policies explicitly exclude coverage for viruses and infectious diseases.  If lawmakers retroactively require carriers to pay these unplanned-for claims, it could cost the insurance industry $150 billion a month, which would quickly deplete its $800 billion surplus. 

Policyholder Pulls COVID-19 Suit Against Broker, Insurer Business Insurance May 20, 2020 

Insurance Speak: Business Interruption Claims and COVID-19 Property/Casualty 360, May 20, 2020 

COVID-19 and Business Interruption Insurance – How to File a Claim the Right Way Franchising.com, May 19, 2020 

Coronavirus Pandemic Threatens Run on Business Interruption Policies Sold by Captive Insurance Risk Pools Forbes.com, May 19. 2020 

California Music Venues Sue Insurer over Business Interruption Related to COVID-19 Insurance Journal, May 15, 2020 

La. Lawmakers Scrap Business Interruption Bill

Louisiana lawmakers scrapped a bill that would have forced insurers to cover retroactive business interruption claims due to COVID-19, Business Insurance reports

However, state senators agreed to rewrite and amend Senate Bill 477 to allow a proposal requiring insurers to clarify exclusions on business interruption policies to move ahead. 

The scrapping of the Louisiana proposal follows last week’s decision by the Council of the District of Columbia not to go ahead with a proposal to force insurers to provide retroactive business interruption coverage on small-business COVID-19 claims. 

Coronavirus Updates in Louisiana: 35,038 COVID-19 Cases, 2,458 Deaths, WDSU 6, New Orleans, May 19, 2020 

Dozens of Workers at 3 Louisiana Crawfish Farms Test Positive for COVID-19, 4 WWL, New Orleans, May 19, 2020 

Red Flags Found at Louisiana Nursing Homes Ravaged by Coronavirus, NOLA.com, May 19, 2020 

Pa. Bill Would Define COVID-19 as Property Damage 

The Pennsylvania Senate is weighing a bill that would include losses spurred by the COVID-19 global pandemic under property and business interruption insurance coverage, Property/Casualty 360 reports. 

Senate Bill 1127 doesn’t explicitly state that insurers must cover COVID-19 business interruption claims. The bill states that if a covered property is located within a municipality where “the presence of the COVID-19 coronavirus has otherwise been detected,” that property is “deemed to have experienced property damage.” 

It also states that Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 emergency order to close businesses is to be considered an order of civil authority under a first-party insurance policy which limits, prohibits, or restricts access to non-life-sustaining business locations “as a direct result of physical damage at or in the immediate vicinity of those locations.”  

Coronavirus: 63,666 cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, WGAL News 8, May 20, 2020 

Nursing Homes in Southeast Pa. Hit Hard By Coronavirus Deaths, New Data Shows, NBC 10 Philadelphia, May 20, 2020 

Pa. Releases Names of Nursing Homes with Coronavirus Cases, DeathsPhiladelphia Inquirer, May 19, 2020 

Pa. Supreme Court Rejects Emergent Application to Consolidate COVID-19 Business Interruption Claims JDSupra.com, May 19, 2020 

Pa. Insurance Commissioner Warns Businesses of Increased Liability Risks If Defying Coronavirus Shutdow Orders KDKA 2, Pittsburgh, May 11, 2020 

Publisher Appeals COVID-19 Ruling Denying Coverage 

A magazine publisher is appealing a federal court ruling in favor of an insurer in a coronavirus-related business interruption dispute, Business Insurance reports

In one of the first court rulings on the business interruption coverage issue, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie E. Caproni, in the Southern District of New York, said the policyholder’s attorney deserved “a gold star for creativity” but the loss was not covered under the policy issued by the unit of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. 

From the Triple-I Blog

REQUIRING INSURERS TO COVER PANDEMIC-RELATED SHUTDOWNS WOULD JEOPARDIZE INDUSTRY’S SOLVENCY, EXPERTS SAY

TRIPLE-I LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT RESILIENCY OF THE ECONOMY DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

WEBINAR: BUILDING RESILIENT BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITIES IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

U.S. TREASURY WEIGHS IN ON DEBATE SURROUNDING BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE

WORKERS COMP, LIABILITY NEXT UP FOR VIRUS-RELATED INSURANCE DISPUTES