COVID-19 Insurance Coverage Litigation Tracker

Last updated: August 13, 2020

This interactive chart tracks the insurance-related litigation filed across the country seeking coverage for losses arising out of COVID-19 and the various governmental orders issued in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

*Please note that this chart is not complete and remains in progress as we continue to capture and synthesize both federal and state cases filed and provide key updates regarding the cases already captured on this chart. Additionally, while this chart seeks to be comprehensive and to provide real-time updates, it is not exhaustive, as some cases may not be captured, and the status of the identified cases may change prior to the chart's weekly update.

Notable Arguments

Our review of the identified cases reveals some common trends worth noting. For starters, the majority of the cases are substantively identical. They often use the same language and arguments, and notably, a number of the cases are filed by the same law firms. In addition, most, if not all, of the plaintiffs/claimants have "all-risks" insurance policies that provide coverages for Business Income, Extra Expense, Civil Authority, and Sue & Labor.

The plaintiffs are policyholders representing a wide array of industries spanning from cosmetology to childcare. However, the majority of plaintiffs are policyholders from the Food & Beverage, Medical (e.g., dental practices), and Retail industries. Although the plaintiffs differ with respect to the types of business interruption losses sustained, they, as noted above, generally assert the same arguments for why coverage should be afforded. This chart provides a synopsis of the arguments raised in each case, but for the sake of brevity, we highlight the following notable arguments asserted by the plaintiffs:

  1. Since 2006, the industry has recognized that the presence of a dangerous virus or disease is known to be a physical loss or damage. If a virus could never result in a "physical loss" to property, there would be no need for such an exclusion. Additionally, plaintiffs in certain jurisdictions such as Pennsylvania and Illinois cite case law apparently suggesting that courts have already determined that COVID-19 poses a specific threat to property and can cause property loss and damage.
  2. Losses were not caused by the virus or bacteria. Indeed, a large percentage of plaintiffs do not allege that the virus was actually present at the covered property either through an employee or a customer who contracted the virus. Rather, the efficient proximate cause of its losses were precautionary measures taken by governments of their respective counties and states to prevent the spread of the virus in the future, not because the virus was found in or on the plaintiff's insured properties.
  3. Plaintiffs cite some civil authority orders which expressly invoke the threat to property as a reason for the orders to support their allegation that the virus causes physical loss or damage to property, and that the civil authority was in response to physical loss or damage.
  4. Plaintiffs claim that the inability to use their property as the property was intended to be used constitutes physical loss and/or damage.
  5. Plaintiffs often cite statements made by the President Trump or other state officials that the pandemic constitutes physical loss or damage and that coverage should be afforded under the policies unless there is a specific exclusion identified in the policies.
  6. A good majority of plaintiffs argue that the insurance industry has determined to deny claims on a wide-scale basis and without any reasonable investigation, if any, into the claims being asserted. As such, some plaintiffs have asserted unfair claims practices under state law, some of which are insurance-specific and others which are non-insurance specific, as well as bad faith claims. This presents another avenue for plaintiffs to potentially recover damages.

Alternatively, the defendants, which are some of the more notable insurers across the country as well as a large number of local/regional insurers, assert similar, if not identical, arguments as to why coverage is not afforded. Outside of the general reliance of the virus or contamination/pollution exclusions, the more notable arguments include:

  1. There is a lack of evidence/proof of actual physical loss or damage.
  2. The inhabitability of the insured premises does not constitute physical loss or damage.
  3. There is no evidence that the civil authority orders were issued because of the presence of the coronavirus at the covered property for which the claim is based.

Our Team

If you have any questions regarding coverage or litigation concerning the coronavirus or other disasters, please contact the following members of our Insurance Recovery and Commercial Litigation Practices.

Related News and Insights