South Carolina Joins States Proposing Legislation to Mandate Insurers Pay COVID-19 Losses
On April 8, 2020, a bipartisan group of three South Carolina state senators introduced Senate Bill 1188, which would provide coverage for loss of use/occupancy or business interruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The text of S.B. 1188 specifically states:
“Every policy of insurance in force in this State insuring against loss or damage to property, notwithstanding the terms of the policy and including any endorsement thereto or exclusions to coverage included therewith, that includes a loss of use and occupancy, or business interruption, shall be construed to include, among the covered perils under the policy, coverage for loss of use and occupancy, or business interruption, directly or indirectly resulting from the global pandemic known as COVID-19.”
The proposed bill would apply to policies issued to policyholders with 150 or fewer full-time equivalent employees in the state.
S.B. 1188 provides that South Carolina insurers cannot deny a claim for a loss of use and occupancy, or business interruption, with respect to COVID-19 for (1) COVID-19 being a virus, even if the relevant insurance policy excludes losses resulting from viruses, (2) there being no physical damage to the property of the insured or to any other relevant property, or (3) orders issued by any civil authority, or acts or decisions of a governmental entity. Further, S.B. 1188 states that an insurer that is required to provide coverage to an insured that has filed a claim may apply to the South Carolina Department of Insurance for relief and reimbursement from funds collected.