The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) has sent a notice to each Department of Insurance requesting that claims deadlines be extended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

President of NAPIA, Jeff O’Connor explained the urgent need for the extensions in his introductory comments:

As the president of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, I am reaching out to you on behalf of the association members in response to President Donald Trump’s declaration March 1, 2020, that the Coronavirus COVID-19 viral outbreak in the United States is a national emergency. The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, or “NAPIA” is an association founded in 1951 to advance the cause of public adjusting in the United States and to foster a stringent code of ethics governing the profession. Approximately 650 member firms focus on commercial and complex claims of business as well as on some residential claims to assure expert representation and fair treatment in the claims process.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread and ongoing havoc throughout the United States, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Due to the catastrophic impacts of COVID-19 to the entire population and specifically insureds, insurance companies, adjusters, investigators and every vendor associated with representing the insured or insurance companies, NAPIA urgently requests your response be broadened to further protect property owners.

While a few states have included the property claims process in their COVID-19 responses, many have not. Today, we ask you to consider extending insurance claim deadlines for property insurance claims and to clarify with more specificity in bulletins that lack clarity as to their scope. The reason for the request stems largely from the combined logistical challenges presented in the claims process requiring physical examination of loss, possible illness of stakeholders and convalescence period all nearing the season for increased property claims due to weather-related events.

This is a very well thought out request, and NAPIA’s leadership should be applauded for watching out for policyholders. It has always been my opinion that these deadlines for filing proofs of loss, replacing property, and other post-lost duties should not be the basis for claim payment avoidance when completed after the deadline absent material prejudice to the insurance company.

First-party business income lawsuits caused by coronavirus closure will undoubtedly go from a trickle to a stream and maybe to a gusher of lawsuits. I suspect that D&O lawsuits are going to be filed since this pandemic has long been predicted, and shareholders are getting killed in the financial markets.

A coronavirus business income loss declaratory lawsuit was filed in Florida by Michael Laurato. Laurato is a fighter and strong advocate for his clients. He had this to say in a lengthy exchange of emails today:

[R]eading the policy and all its provisions as whole to give each provision its effect, applying the rules of policy construction to that policy, together with the rules of concurrent causation, and resolving any ambiguities resulting from that analysis in favor of coverage, I’ve satisfied myself that there is business interruption coverage for the COVID-19 governmental suspension for business interruption under this policy.

I don’t know if you remember, but about 20 years ago you gave me my first set of jury instructions for my first federal trial in the infamous case of the stolen Magnum PI Ferrari against Allstate. I appreciated your generosity with your time and expertise then and still do. Thanks a million….

Anybody helping policyholders is a friend of mine.

Thought For The Day

Waiters are like actors waiting in the wings, bantering whenever we passed each other on the restaurant floor, shouting at each other backstage in the kitchen and winking and corpsing above the heads of our audience, the unsuspecting customers.
—Richard Eyre