Lawyers and non-profits turn to medical science in drawn-out fight for business interruption payouts
A series of legal cases in the US is focusing on whether Covid-19 can cause invisible damage to insured property — drawing on past cases involving cat urine and toxic gas — as lawyers and advocacy groups attempt to chip away at the industry’s resistance to payouts.
Business interruption insurance during the pandemic has been a significant cost for parts of the global insurance industry. Disputes over who should pay for the cost of shuttered factories and empty restaurant tables continue to rumble through courts more than two years after the crisis began.
“It’s really starting to heat up,” said Robin Cohen, chair of law firm Cohen Ziffer Frenchman & McKenna. She is representing restaurateurs Consolidated Restaurant Operations in a case that has reached New York’s highest court. “It’s a really big deal that they are hearing it,” she added. There are thousands of policyholders across the country where New York law applies, she said.
The businesses are trying to overturn insurers’ argument that a Covid outbreak is not a physical loss that can be claimed under property and business interruption policies.
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