Legislative, Regulatory and Litigation

Find stories on Lawsuits and Litigation including Business Interruption and Auto rate issues. You’ll also find, executive orders, workers’ compensation, federal, and state matters impacting the insurance industry here.

LAWSUITS AND LITIGATION

BUSINESS INTERRUPTION


FEBRUARY 19
Travelers wins virus BI case against hotel chain

A federal district court in Cleveland agreed to dismiss COVID-19 business interruption litigation filed by a hotel chain against a Travelers Cos. Inc. unit, holding that the mere physical presence of the virus on its property does not constitute physical loss under its coverage. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 9
Insurance recovery lawyer lifts lid on COVID BI claims

A nationally renowned insurance recovery group, led by noted policyholder advocate Robin Cohen, has launched its own law firm. Read more here.

JANUARY 22
Manufacturer Says $500M Insurance Policy Covers Virus Loss

Electronic cable maker Amphenol Corp. has sued Factory Mutual Insurance Co. seeking to compel the insurer to cover its more than $100 million pandemic-related claimed losses under its over $500 million all-risk policy. Read more here.

JANUARY 21
Travelers Beats LA Restaurant’s Virus Coverage Suit

A California federal judge granted Travelers Indemnity Co.’s bid to toss a Los Angeles restaurant’s suit seeking COVID-19-related loss coverage, ruling that the eatery failed to allege a “direct physical loss” and that coverage is barred by the policy’s virus exclusion. Read more here.

JANUARY 20
Restaurants’ COVID-19 Losses Are Covered, Ohio Judge Says

An Ohio federal judge ruled Tuesday that Zurich American Insurance Co. must cover losses suffered by more than a dozen steak and seafood restaurants due to COVID-19 shutdown orders, finding that the eateries’ policy can reasonably be interpreted to cover the loss of use of property. Read more here.

JANUARY 15
UK Supreme Court Rules Businesses Should Be Insured for COVID-19 Claims
Six of the world’s largest commercial insurers — Hiscox , RSA, QBE, Argenta, Arch and MS Amlin — argued many business interruption policies did not cover widespread disruption after government efforts to curb the virus from last March. Read more here.

Pa. Court Finds No ‘Physical Loss’ To Restaurants From Virus
A federal judge on Friday tossed a Pennsylvania restaurant’s proposed class action seeking coverage from National Fire & Marine Insurance Co. for losses due to the coronavirus, finding that establishments limited to carry-out service had not sustained the “direct, physical loss” necessary to trigger their insurance policies.
Read more here.

JANUARY 13
Dems’ Senate Win Sinks Insurers’ Virus Liability Shield Hopes
The insurance industry’s hopes for sweeping national legislation that would shield businesses from most coronavirus-related lawsuits were likely dashed last week as Senate control swung to the Democrats, who have resisted such a measure, warning that it would erode legal protections for workers and consumers. Read more here.

JANUARY 11
A New Year’s Nightmare: COVID-19 Litigation Piling Up
More than 1,000 lawsuits across industries have been filed against insurance firms over pandemic claims as Hollywood’s largest companies take a “wait and see” approach on who prevails in court. Read more here.

JANUARY 6
Treating Pandemics Like Wars or Terrorist Attacks May Be the Key to Helping Small Businesses
The pandemic proved that insurance offers little help to small businesses slammed by shutdowns. Now insurers and Uncle Sam are working to fix the problem with solutions based on the government’s response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks and World War II. Read more here.

COVID-19 Business Interruption Rulings, Most Favoring Insurers, Moving to Appeals
A wave of litigation over business-interruption losses caused by COVID-19 shutdown orders has started splashing into the appellate courts. Read more here.

JANUARY 1
Pandemic Driving Is Still Down, but Will Insurers Grant More Relief?
Many gave drivers a break in the spring. With accident claims remaining below normal, consumer advocates are calling for another one. Read more here.

DECEMBER 23
Plano-based Cinemark sues insurer for $400 million loss

Plano-based movie theater chain Cinemark filed a lawsuit against its insurer for unrecovered losses, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Read more here.

DECEMBER 15
Bipartisan COVID-19 Plan Helps Businesses, Unemployed; Splits State Aid, Liability Shield
A bipartisan group of lawmakers released proposed Covid-19 relief legislation that may provide momentum for breaking a months-long impasse, by separating out coronavirus liability protections and state aid — the two most contentious and partisan items. Read more here.

Toss Advised For 2 Texas Eateries’ COVID-19 Coverage Suit
A Texas magistrate judge is recommending dismissal of a suit by two Texas restaurants seeking coverage for their losses after state orders suspended operations to stem the tide of COVID-19, saying they haven’t alleged the virus caused physical damage or loss to the properties necessary to trigger coverage. Read more here.

DECEMBER 4
COVID-19 Is Not Covered By Pollution Insurance, Judge Rules

An Arizona federal judge freed Chubb unit Illinois Union Insurance Co. from having to cover a resort’s virus losses, finding Friday that the carrier’s “premises pollution liability” policy only covers environmental pollution but not the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.

DECEMBER 2
Jemb Realty sues insurer, revealing challenges facing commercial property insureds

Amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the business interruption legal arena continues to heat up. Read more here.

DECEMBER 1
Vegas Outdoor Mall Can Pursue COVID-19 Coverage Suit

A Clark County, Nevada, judge rejected an insurer’s bid to toss a COVID-19 business interruption coverage suit from the owner of Las Vegas’ Grand Bazaar open-air mall, holding that the owner sufficiently alleged property damage and the policy’s contamination and pollution exclusion does not apply to virus-related losses. Read more here.

NOVEMBER 30
Firm’s COVID-19 Insurance Claim Faces Skeptical Ga. Judge

A Georgia federal judge on Monday raised a series of concerns about the viability of an insurance suit filed by a law firm seeking to enforce property policy coverage for losses triggered by COVID-19 and a state-ordered shutdown. Read more here.

NOVEMBER 20
A federal court may have just turned Missouri into a hotbed for COVID-19 litigation

In September, Missouri federal judge Stephen R. Bough declared that Blue Springs Dental Care LLC could proceed with allegations that its insurance company had wrongfully denied business interruption claims resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

NOVEMBER 16
Insurers tell UK court they can’t provide unlimited virus cover

Major insurance companies told the U.K. Supreme Court on Monday it was wrong to assume there could be unlimited cover during a pandemic in an appeal closely watched by thousands of British businesses devastated by the coronavirus crisis. Read more here.

NOVEMBER 11
NAIC 2020 Fall National Meeting to Include Special Session on Business Interruption

The NAIC Center for Insurance Policy and Research (CIPR) will hold a three-hour special session during the NAIC 2020 Fall National Meeting. The special session titled “Pandemic Business Interruption Federal Insurance Mechanism – Learning from the Past, Thinking About the Future” will take place Tuesday, December 8, 2020 from 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Central Time. Read more here.

OCTOBER 23
Insurer to Appeal Restaurants’ Win in North Carolina COVID Business Interruption Case

A judge in Durham County, North Carolina has handed down what may be the nation’s first dispositive ruling in favor of policyholders in a COVID-19 business-interruption lawsuit. Read more here.

OCTOBER 21
FAIR releases a digital BI insurance explainer
The Future of American Insurance and Reinsurance (FAIR) has released a new interactive tool to help showcase the need for a federal solution to pandemic relief. The Business Interruption Insurance “explainer” utilizes digital storytelling techniques to help clarify information about this complex topic.

OCTOBER 20
Court: Broker not liable for COVID-19 business interruption claim denial

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. Read more here.

OCTOBER 14
Houston Rockets Lawsuit Against RI Insurer Is Playing Out in, Not on, a RI Court

Playing out in a Rhode Island courtroom is a legal battle between the NBA’s Houston Rockets’ parent company and the arena the team plays in, as they are suing Rhode Island-based FM Global — a case that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars or potentially far more. Read more here.

OCTOBER 12
Insurer seeks dismissal of COVID-19 suit filed by McDonald’s, franchisees

An insurer has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by McDonald’s Corp. and two of its franchisees over the insurer’s refusal to defend them in COVID-19 litigation filed by the fast-food chain’s employees. Read more here.

OCTOBER 6
LA Restaurant Loses Legal Battle in Ongoing Coronavirus Insurance Fight

A Los Angeles restaurant faced a legal setback in a lawsuit against its insurance company this week, setting precedent for what could be a tough round of claim denials for restaurants negatively affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

Hollywood’s Insurer Braces for Claims Due to COVID-Related Movie, TV Shutdowns
Allianz SE, Europe’s largest insurer, is bracing for a flood of claims after movie and television studios were forced to curtail production during lockdown. Read more here.

OCTOBER 2
Hartford, Travelers Won’t Face Combined Virus-Loss Claims

Hartford Financial Services Group, The Travelers Cos. Inc. and other insurers won’t have to face a consolidation of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of business-interruption claims tied to the Covid-19 outbreak, a group of judges concluded. Read more here.

OCTOBER 1
German Court Rules Insurer Must Pay Restaurant’s Lockdown Claim

A German court has ruled that a Munich restaurant’s insurer must pay out a claim for losses caused by the state-imposed COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year, the first prominent such case in Germany in which the court found in favor of the plaintiff. Read more here.


AUTO

LAWSUITS

AUGUST 04
Customers sue Allstate and other large auto insurers for bigger rebates
The lawsuits allege that large car insurance companies didn’t provide enough financial relief as Illinois motorists stayed off the road during the height of the pandemic. Read more here.


IMPACT

AUGUST 10
Usage-based insurance gaining steam among consumers
63% of U.S. consumers are open to changing their current auto insurance policy for one that has a telematics-based premium. Read more here.

JULY 16
Miles driven set to drop with increased work-from-home
Working from home and online shopping have become the new normal and that will reduce driving in the U.S. by up to 270 billion miles a year, according to new study. Read more here.

JULY 06
Progressive reveals profits in face of pandemic refunds
Despite reporting a significant drop in claims and providing auto insurance customers with premium refunds, Progressive generated a substantial profit during the pandemic – a detail that consumer advocates believe is unfair to customers. Read more here.


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TEXAS AND LOCAL UPDATES

JULY 15
Houston Rockets Sue Insurer Over Denied Covid-19 Loss Claims
The Houston Rockets and billionaire owner Tilman Fertitta are suing their insurer for denying the National Basketball Association team’s bid to tap its business-interruption insurance policy over revenue losses from the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more here.

JULY 14
Texas hospitals are running out of drugs, beds, ventilators and even staff
Many Texas hospitals are no longer accepting transfer patients in order to maintain space for a surge that’s expected to come. In some parts of the state, it’s already here. Read more here.

Houston Leaders Urge Citywide Lockdown Amid Virus Case Surge
Top officials in Houston are calling for the city to lock back down as area hospitals strain to accommodate the onslaught of patients sick with the new coronavirus. Read more here.

JULY 09
Is the coronavirus pandemic putting Texas businesses at a higher risk of lawsuits?

As COVID-19 cases rise, the legal aspect is one of many in which businesses are navigating between staying afloat and keeping people safe. Some are pushing for a legal shield granting businesses immunity — but others are pushing back, worried that the current legal environment does not protect workers enough. Read more here.


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TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE

ICT Summaries of TDI COVID-19 Related Actions
TDI and has been issuing bulletins and emergency rules to keep up with the changing needs and issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since these are coming in at a rapid pace, ICT has compiled summaries of each agency’s actions up to October 1 for reference.
Read the TDI summary here.

JUNE 30
Texas Insurance Department Asked to Conduct Auto Insurance Data Call
The Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC) has asked the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to conduct a special data call of the top 10 auto insurance groups in the state to gather information about personal auto claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

JUNE 26
OPIC requests auto insurance data call
The Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC) sent a letter to Commissioner Sullivan requesting that TDI conduct a special data call of the top 10 auto insurance groups in the state to gather information about personal auto claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the letter here.

JUNE 24
TDI extends telemedicine emergency rule into September

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is extending a requirement that insurers cover telemedicine services, including mental health visits, at the same rate as in-person visits. Read more here.

JUNE 16
Texas Returning to Normal Temporary Agent License Process on Aug. 15

Anyone with a temporary license issued August 15 or earlier will have until Nov. 13 to get a regular license. Read more here.

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DWC AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION NEWS


ICT Summaries DWC COVID-19 Related Actions
DWC has been issuing bulletins and emergency rules to keep up with the changing needs and issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since these are coming in at a rapid pace, ICT has compiled summaries of each agency’s actions up to August 10 for reference. 
Read the DWC summary here.

FEBRUARY 23
Workers Comp and COVID: More Data on Evolving Claims

Workers compensation insurers aren’t getting the large aggregate volumes of COVID-related claims projected during the early months of the pandemic, but different data sources give varying readouts on developments for individual U.S. states and classes of workers. Read more here.

JANUARY 14
How COVID Effect on Workers’ Compensation Claims Has Varied by State, Industry

The percentage of COVID-19 claims among all workers’ compensation paid claims has varied greatly among states and occupations, as has the decrease in non-COVID claims, new research shows. Read more here.

DECEMBER 10
Comp insurers say pandemic’s impact on industry top concern
The impact of COVID-19 on the workers compensation industry is the top concern going into 2021 among comp insurance executives, according to a survey by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. Read more here.

DECEMBER 8
Expansion of Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19 in 6 States Created Narrow Benefit

While at least 17 states have passed laws or issued orders that expanded access to workers’ compensation benefits for employees who contract COVID-19, many of those directives are creating new exposure for only a sliver of the workforce, new research by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute shows. Read more here.

NOVEMBER 10
Reduced Driving Turns Into Fewer Injuries and Workers’ Compensation Claims

The COVID-19 pandemic comes with one bright spot for workers’ compensation insurers: Fewer workers are being injured in motor vehicle accidents. Read more here.

OCTOBER 6
California reports comp premium declines

Written workers compensation premium in the state of California for the first two quarters of 2020 dropped more than 10% from the same quarter in 2019, according to a report released Monday by the state’s Workers Compensation Insurance Ratings Bureau. Read more here.

AUGUST 14
These Workers’ Comp Experts Agree: The Industry Must Prepare for Huge Change After the Pandemic

Workers’ comp has changed a lot over the past few years. If claims management companies want to succeed they will have to look at both the industry’s past and future. Read more here.

AUGUST 04
TDI adopts NCCI rules related to COVID-19
TDI adopted National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) Item B-1441—Revisions to NCCI Manual Rules Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The filing revises and establishes rules related to paid furloughed employees and reporting final premium for employers affected by the pandemic. The changes in Item B-1441 apply to new, renewal, and outstanding policies effective on and after March 1, 2020.

JULY 29
Washington Extends Relief for Employers Struggling to Pay Workers’ Comp

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries is again extending the deadline for employers that are finding it difficult to pay their workers’ compensation premiums during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.

JULY 09
NCCI Proposes Rule for Experience Rating Related to COVID-19 Claims
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) filed Item E-1407—Exclusion of COVID-19 Claims from Experience Rating and Merit Rating. The filing proposes that the changes in Item E-1407 apply to experience rating modifications with rating effective dates of August 16, 2020, and later.

JUNE 12
Early trends in COVID-19 claims

As COVID-19 continues to affect the entire insurance market, an early look at claims trends offers a good place to start when it comes to understanding the full impact of the pandemic. Read more here.

JUNE 09
Facing Workers Compensation Challenges During the Pandemic: NCCI

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended lives, families, business routines, and the economy. Read more here.

JUNE 04
Bills would provide rebuttable presumption for workers with COVID
Kansas lawmakers introduced three bills Wednesday that would extend coverage to workers who acquire coronavirus on the job. Read more here.

COVID 19 Regulatory & Legislative Update: WC Compensability Presumptions
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted many state legislative sessions with state legislatures adjourning early, postponing their sessions, or focusing primarily on COVID-19 and state budget-related matters. NCCI is tracking COVID-19 related legislation around the country and at the federal level. Read more here.

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FEDERAL

AUGUST 5
Texas AG Urges Congress to pass Safe to Work Act
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined 21 other states in a letter to the United States Congress urging the adoption of federal pandemic liability protections contained in the Safe to Work Act. These protections will help mitigate the threat of frivolous COVID-19-related litigation against first responders, healthcare workers, law enforcement, and healthcare facilities, among other entities, while ensuring victims have legal options where appropriate. Read more here.

JULY 30
Coalition Letter on Coronavirus Liability Protections

The undersigned organizations urge you to support the timely, targeted, and temporary liability relief provisions contained in S. 4317, the “SAFE TO WORK Act.” These crucial protections would safeguard healthcare workers, providers, and facilities, as well as businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions against unfair lawsuits so they can continue to contribute to a safe and effective economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

JULY 21
What Could Stall Another Stimulus Check? Offering Protection From Coronavirus Lawsuits
Although Republicans are warming to the idea of authorizing a second round of individual checks, a partisan impasse over a seemingly obscure issue—limited liability—could delay any federal relief from getting approved anytime soon. Read more here.

JULY 20
Taking Insurers to Court Won’t Help Business. Government Must Step In
The late, great Kenny Rogers had some pretty good advice that plaintiffs’ attorneys could heed today about knowing when to hold’em and when to fold’em. As a lawyer and former insurance commissioner and Senator, it is clear to me what our businesses don’t need right now: expensive, lengthy litigation. Read more here.

JULY 07
COVID workplace suits increase: Report

The two types of COVID-19 claims that have been filed most frequently are employment discrimination claims and work-from-home/leave claims. Read more here.

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