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 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
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, Deaths, Philadelphia 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.