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Can Fear or Emotional Distress Associated With COVID-19 Be a “Bodily Injury”?

With the United States now having the highest number of confirmed infections in the world, the nation now finds itself in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this blog post, we continue to explore potential COVID-19 insurance coverage issues, this time focusing on whether fear of contracting COVID-19 alone or emotional damages caused by … Continue Reading

No Coverage for Insured’s TCPA Defense Says Pennsylvania Federal Court

Policyholders will look to their insurers when they are sued for unsolicited faxing under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).  Do they have insurance coverage?  That depends on the policy, but TCPA coverage is hard to come by.  That doesn’t stop policyholders from trying.  In a recent case, a Pennsylvania federal court put an end … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Coverage Litigation Escalates

As the COVID-19 pandemic brings about more shutdown orders, non-essential businesses that have been shut because of government orders are fighting to obtain insurance coverage.  The first four cases brought were declaratory judgment actions seeing orders that their policies covered the suspension of their businesses.  The latest case, however, goes a two steps further and … Continue Reading

Whether a Partial or Complete Cessation of Business Is Required for BI Coverage – COVID-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing few signs of slowing down in the immediate future, reality is starting to settle in on businesses and governments. As Congress and various state legislatures continue to discuss legislation aimed at remedying the economic damage caused by the pandemic, many businesses are grappling with extensive interruptions to their operations. In … Continue Reading

Actual Cash Value: Is the Cost of Labor Part of Depreciation? The Courts Are Divided

Depreciation typically is deducted from the actual cash value (“ACV”) of property when the insured elects to have its property damage claim paid on an ACV basis.  No one doubts that depreciation includes the cost of materials.  The question is, however, whether the cost of labor can be depreciated as well.  In a few recent … Continue Reading

COVID-19 and Waiting Periods Under Business Interruption Coverage

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses and governments are acting to flatten the curve.  Recently, California, the largest state by population, implemented an extensive quarantine statewide, affecting over 40 million people.  New York and other states and municipalities also have issued similar closure orders.  In this blog post, we continue to examine the issues surrounding … Continue Reading

Civil Authority Orders and COVID-19 Coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and local and state governments are issuing directives closing restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and other businesses.  Some local governments have even issued shelter-in-place orders.  In other instances, some businesses have begun closing their doors as a preemptive measure, either to reduce the spread of the virus or in response to … Continue Reading

Can Coverage for COVID-19 Be Excluded?

Business insurance policies contain exclusions precluding coverage under specified circumstances. Two exclusions potentially relevant to COVID-19 claims are the virus, bacteria or communicable disease and pollution exclusions. In this blog post, we examine these exclusions in the context of coverage issues for COVID-19.… Continue Reading

Businesses Scramble to Assess Insurance Coverage for COVID-19

COVID-19 has sickened hundreds of thousands of people and resulted in the deaths of thousands. Millions will likely be affected. Up until very recently, there was widespread belief that some countries may be spared the level of disruption seen earlier this year. Recent events have shown this is no longer a reasonable assumption. The WHO … Continue Reading

And So It Begins: The COVID-19 Coverage Cases Start

The first insurance coverage case has been brought by a restaurant in New Orleans seeking a declaratory judgment against its insurer, as well as the governor and the state, that the restaurant’s insurance policy does not contain an exclusion for viral pandemic and that the policy will cover the restaurant for any future civil authority … Continue Reading

The Facts Matter in Prospective Coverage Disputes Over COVID-19

There are two main questions in every insurance coverage dispute.  First, what are the actual facts that gave rise to the claim?  Second, what are the actual words contained in the specific insurance policy provisions relevant to the claim?  The facts and words matter because, more often than not, each claim and each policy has … Continue Reading

Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Negligent Misrepresentation Is Not Property Damage

To obtain coverage under a property insurance policy there has to be property damage caused by an occurrence during the policy period.  Seems simple, but as we have seen, sometimes the round peg just does not fit in the square hole.  In a recent case, the Ninth Circuit addressed whether allegations of breach of fiduciary … Continue Reading

Misrepresentation Results in Loss of Coverage

One of the best ways for a policyholder to lose its insurance coverage is to conceal or misrepresent material facts and circumstances about the claim.  In a recent case, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the insurance company dismissing a policyholder’s claims against its insurance carrier for not paying … Continue Reading

Does Physical Loss or Damage Include Loss of Use, Reliability or Impaired Functionality?

Cyber attacks on computer systems have spawned myriad coverage disputes over whether the data stored on the computer system tangible property that comes within property insurance coverage or whether the computer system has to be rendered unusable.  As cyber attacks have grown and morphed from hacking to ransomware to other types of intrusions, and as … Continue Reading

Binding Arbitration Award In Coverage Dispute Ends Later Coverage Litigation

Many insurance policies have binding arbitration clauses along with other provisions that address whether a lawsuit may be brought against the insurance company.  What happens when the arbitration goes against the policyholder?  Can the policyholder then sue the insurance company over the same coverage dispute even if the arbitrator ruled against the policyholder?… Continue Reading

It’s Always a Good Idea to Read Your Insurance Policy

Among the basic rules of insurance are these two:  (a) always read your policy and (b) courts will construe clear and unambiguous insurance policy language by giving it its ordinary and plain meaning. This is the lesson that a policyholder learned after filing a claim for windstorm damage to his roof.  The question was whether … Continue Reading

No Coverage to Builder for Beetle-Infested Logs

Nearly all construction jobs require that the contractor purchase insurance.  Commercial general liability insurance (“CGL”) is often what is purchased.  CGL policies also typically have an exclusion for property damage to “your work.” In a recent case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed this exclusion in a case of damage caused by beetle-infested logs … Continue Reading

Policyholder Denied Discovery Into Handling of Other Insureds’ Superstorm Sandy Losses

Superstorm Sandy was a complicated loss because of its unique nature and the controversy over when it was a hurricane and whether damage caused by it was while it was a hurricane.  Many property policies have sublimits and deductibles specific to hurricanes or “named storms” or for flood losses.  How these sublimits or deductibles apply … Continue Reading

Strict Conditions Doom Flood Insurance Claim

The National Flood Insurance Program has been controversial to say the least.  Part of the program allows commercial insurance companies to act as agents for the federal government in producing Standard Flood Insurance policies and managing claims under a write your own program (“WYO”).  The program, under its enabling law, the National Flood Insurance Act, … Continue Reading

Foundations, Basement Walls and Collapse — Connecticut Supreme Court Rules Against Coverage

Homeowners in Connecticut (and other states) have had issues with crumbling foundations and basement walls of their homes due to defective concrete manufactured by a specific supplier.  They have turned to their homeowners insurance policies for coverage and coverage has been denied.  Multiple lawsuits have been brought.  In a series of recent cases, the Connecticut … Continue Reading

Appraisal Award Ends Property Damage Dispute

Property insurance policies contain provisions to resolve disputes between the policyholder and the insurer over damage claims.  These provisions provide for an independent appraisal of the alleged damaged property with the appraiser’s final award binding the parties.  An appraisal award is akin to an arbitration award in many respects.  In a recent case, a policyholder … Continue Reading

Contra Proferentem and Ambiguity Preclude Subrogation Recovery

Here’s a typical scenario.  The general contractor or owner takes out a all-risk builder’s policy to cover a construction project.  Subcontractors are included as additional insureds where required by their subcontracts, but only “as their respective interests may appear.”  The policy has a subrogation clause, but the clause includes a provision precluding subrogation against additional … Continue Reading

The 5th Amendment and Insurance Coverage

When a property is destroyed by fire, the property owner’s property insurance likely will cover the loss all things being equal.  But if the fire was intentionally set, coverage likely will be denied.  In the case of a residential property, policies often condition coverage on occupation of the premises.  In a recent case before the … Continue Reading
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