Twenty-six years in the past, I sat in an overcrowded courtroom crammed with insurance coverage firm legal professionals able to argue that insurance coverage firms shouldn’t pay for environmental cleanup prices. A distinguished grey-haired gentleman lawyer, my boss, was main an assault on the insurance coverage trade. He walked slowly to the rostrum and stated, “Your Honor, you see all of those women and men right here in good fits? They’re all liars.” The query American companies ought to ask with respect to coronavirus is whether or not historical past repeats itself.
The CEO of the insurance coverage large Chubb, Evan G. Greenberg, said in a latest WSJ Opinion that it gained’t assist anybody “to attempt to pin the injury on insurers like my firm.” Many years in the past, insurance coverage carriers made this identical argument with respect to the surroundings. There, insurance coverage firms had been held accountable, and American companies had been helped vastly. The identical will seemingly maintain true for coronavirus losses.
Mr. Greenberg’s is fallacious to claim that “virus isn’t coated.” At a minimal, Mr. Greenberg begs a authorized query that will likely be determined by the courts. Insurance coverage firms willingly and knowingly offered insurance coverage insurance policies overlaying “all dangers.” For many years, if not longer, it has been the regulation that “all dangers” insurance policies cowl all dangers of direct bodily loss or injury except particularly and unambiguously excluded. And, courts all through this nation have held that protection is supplied in related conditions, the place property can’t be used for its supposed functions, or is in any other case rendered unsafe to make use of. COVID-19 is a coated threat. It has rendered property unsafe and unusable. The presence of Covid-19 alone triggers protection.
The one query, then, is whether or not COVID 19 is excluded from protection. On April 10, President Trump accurately famous that there’s a drawback with what insurance coverage carriers are pushing, stating:
In a number of circumstances, I don’t see it. I don’t see reference, they usually don’t wish to pay up. I wish to see the insurance coverage firms pay if they should pay.
No insurance coverage insurance policies, apart from these being at present issued, include COVID-19 exclusions. Some insurance policies handle viruses. Others don’t. Every coverage must be individually thought of, and in a number of circumstances, protection clearly exists.
Mr. Greenberg claims that it will be “wildly counterproductive” to drive large insurance coverage firms to pay for losses they didn’t insure. Insurance coverage firms litigated what they claimed had been uncovered environmental claims for many years, solely to pay ultimately. The failure to pay coated claims is and has at all times been counterproductive.
Recognizing this, quite a few states are contemplating payments requiring insurers to pay for Covid-19 losses. To this, Greenberg claims protections beneath Article I of the Structure. This traditional “purple herring” distracts us from the truth that most insurance coverage insurance policies handle this subject head on. Insurance coverage is a regulated trade, and insurers are contractually sure to comply with newly enacted legal guidelines and rules. Constitutional crises prevented.
Historical past repeats itself. We’re in for a combat. However, companies that combat for protection will likely be rewarded. See The Good Information About Coronavirus Insurance coverage Claims