Insurance companies should prove the reason for not paying a claim under an all risk insurance policy. The denial should not stand on false opinions of fact. This was the point of a brief filed by a medical society in a covid business income claim pending before the New Hampshire Supreme Court.1
Continue Reading Science Debunks Insurers False Opinions That Covid Does Not Physically Damage Property

Judges writing about what insurance contracts mean should read what the insurance industry teaches its adjusters and claims managers what insurance contracts mean. For example, a judge would not learn how a doctor is supposed to practice medicine by reading medical malpractice cases. For the same reason, judges and insurance law practitioners should spend time reading insurance industry authoritative materials to learn what insurance contracts are meant to insure.
Continue Reading The Insurance Industry Teaches That a Cause of Loss Does Not Have to Alter Property

A number of insurance law treatises are relied upon to provide guidance to lawyers and judges regarding the general state of insurance law. One of those is Couch on Insurance (Couch) published by Thomson Reuters. Merlin Law Group subscribes to a number of services providing treatise information on insurance law, including Couch in our Westlaw subscription. This service and information is not cheap. Thomson Reuters publishes a onetime purchase of the treatise for $18, 493.00. The Internet advertisement for Couch states:
Continue Reading Can Judges Trust the Couch Insurance Law Treatise When It Comes To Physical Loss or Damage Analysis?

The physical damage requirement to property at an insured premise has become the raging debate in many of the Covid-19 business interruption disputes. I noted a Florida case1 in a blog about “physical damage,” which I wrote about in 2009 while working on Hurricane Ike roof damage claims: “Physical Direct Loss” Caselaw and TWIA’s Roofing Memo. Given that the Azalea, Ltd. v. American States Insurance Company decision is now being cited frequently in briefs regarding businesses being shut down, it seems appropriate to have a more in-depth discussion.
Continue Reading “Physical Damage” Can Occur From An Unknown Substance That Shuts Down a Business or Conditions That Make a Structure Useless

Small business owners are having a devastating time with the COVID-19 pandemic. Most are either shut down or severely hemorrhaging with lost profits. I am frequently asked whether business owners have insurance coverage for this shut down and what they should do.
Continue Reading What Should a Small Business Owner Do Regarding Business Interruption Caused by COVID-19? And Understanding What Physical Damage Means Under a Property Insurance Policy—Do Not Miss Tuesday’s At 2 with Chip Merlin

Pennsylvania has followed five other states to propose legislation eradicating the “virus” exclusion for small businesses having commercial business income policies. Insurance company lobbyists are fighting this legislation in numerous ways. One is the argument that such legislation, if passed, would be unconstitutional.
Continue Reading Coronavirus Insurance Coverage Update April 8—Pennsylvania Files Proposed Legislation, An Official “Trickle” of Lawsuits is Filed and Is There A Test That Finds Covid-19 on Property?

The first coronavirus lawsuit filed was in Louisiana. The subject policy has no ISO virus exclusion which was discussed in, Coronavirus Insurance Coverage Update—The ISO Circular Regarding the Virus Exclusion. Louisiana attorney John Houghtaling filed the lawsuit, and he will undoubtedly be relying upon a Louisiana case, Widder v. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation,1 for the proposition that the coronavirus caused physical damage.
Continue Reading Corona Virus and Physical Damage—The Louisiana Case Law That Will Be Relied Upon in the First Coronavirus Case Filed

Judges should be aware of the extreme and aberrant arguments being made by a few insurance company lawyers about physical damage requiring damage to be “functional” damage. These lawyers argue that property insurance policies contemplate this “functional damage” requirement.
Continue Reading Insurance Company Lawyers Argue Physical Damage Requires Functional Damage—Can This Be True?

In the recent case of Rainforest Chocolate, LLC v. Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd.,1 the Supreme Court of Vermont found coverage for Rainforest where Sentinel’s “false pretense” exclusion turned out to be ambiguous as there were at least two reasonable interpretations of what constituted “physical loss or physical damages.”2
Continue Reading Case Highlights How Writing and Interpreting Policies Can Be Challenging in Today’s Technological World