Coverage Implied? COVID-19 Lawsuit Hinges On Policy Renewal Language

 Thursday, July 30, 2020

A recent class-action lawsuit filed by the owner of The Crescent Plaza Hotel against Zurich American Insurance Co. in the Northern District of Illinois illustrates the reappearance of one of the arguments litigated numerous times.

The Crescent Plaza Hotel’s suit alleges Zurich’s addition of a Communicable Disease Endorsement to its manuscript commercial property policy at renewal implies coverage for COVID-19 losses existed prior to the inclusion of the Communicable Disease Endorsement, according to the case filing.

Interestingly, Zurich had not expressly denied the business interruption claim submitted by the Crescent Plaza Hotel at the time the suit was filed.

The Crescent Plaza Hotel relied on Zurich’s denial of other customers’ business interruption claims and statements made by Zurich’s CFO, George Quinn, that “Zurich’s business interruption coverage ‘wording typically includes a virus exclusion [and] more than 99% of [Zurich’s] contracts in North America will have that wording.’”

It contends Zurich’s wide-scale denial of business interruption claims combined with Quinn’s public statements is an effective repudiation of coverage under the policy.