Court Holds That Insurance Producer Cannot Be Liable for Denial of COVID-19 Business Interruption Claim

Gold scales of justice

In one of the first cases to consider producer liability in COVID-19 cases, Judge Eduardo Robreno dismissed the lawsuit against the producer and the carrier.

November 23, 2020
Christopher P. Leise & Marc L. Penchansky - White and Williams LLP

After an insurance carrier denied a lawyer and her law firm’s claim for lost business income due to the COVID-19-related shutdown, she sued both her carrier and the insurance producer that procured the policy. See Wilson v. Hartford Casualty Company, No. 20-3384 (E.D.Pa. Sep. 30, 2020). In one of the first cases to consider producer liability in COVID-19 cases, Judge Eduardo Robreno dismissed the lawsuit against the producer and the carrier.

USI procured the Policy from Hartford for Rhonda Hill Wilson and her law firm. The Policy included coverage for lost business income and extra expense caused by direct physical loss of, or damage to property. Similarly, the Policy covered lost business income if a nearby property experienced a direct physical loss that caused a civil authority to issue an order that prohibited access to the law firm’s property. The Policy also included a virus exclusion “for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by . . . [p]resence, growth, proliferation, spread or any activity of . . . virus.”

Judge Robreno did not decide whether the Policy afforded any coverage to Wilson and her law firm for their COVID-19 losses. Rather, he found that even if they could, the virus exclusion unambiguously barred any coverage they could possibly claim. For that reason, Judge Robreno dismissed the claims against Hartford.

Reprinted courtesy of Christopher P. Leise, White and Williams LLP and Marc L. Penchansky, White and Williams LLP
Mr. Leise may be contacted at leisec@whiteandwilliams.com
Mr. Penchansky may be contacted at penchanskym@whiteandwilliams.com



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