August 4, 2020

Volume X, Number 217

August 04, 2020

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August 03, 2020

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Will European Insurers’ Positive Response to COVID-19 Claims Influence US Insurers?

Last month we wrote a piece concerning AXA’s agreement to pay COVID-19 related business interruption claims by a group of restaurants in France after a court ruled that the restaurants’ revenue losses resulting from COVID-19 and related government orders were covered under its insurance policies. AXA reportedly has already agreed to pay over 200 COVID-19 related claims.

Another European insurer recently made headlines for similar reasons. Despite initially denying liability, Swiss insurance company, Helvetia Insurance, announced that most of its policyholders in the hospitality industry have accepted settlements following coverage disputes for COVID-19 related business interruption losses. The settlements reportedly included policyholders from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.

The positive response from the European insurers appears to have influenced the insurance industry across the continent. For instance, in the U.K., the Financial Conduct Authority announced that it is taking certain insurers to court to seek clarity as to coverage for COVID-19 related losses. In Germany, the government and a group of insurers reached an agreement whereby the government will pay for 70% of business interruption losses for policyholders in the hospitality industry, and the insurers will pay for half of the business interruption losses not covered by the government.

The positive response in Europe is in stark contrast with the insurance industry’s preliminary positions in the United States. The headlines on this side of the hemisphere demonstrate certain insurers’ attempts to avoid liability for COVID-19 related losses, despite accepting billions in premiums from policyholders in exchange for broad coverage promises. Whether insurers in the United States will follow their European counterparts remains to be seen. Until then, United States policyholders will want to properly present their coverage claims for COVID-19 related losses to their insurers and preserve all rights to pursue such claims in court or through an alternative dispute resolution in the event that their insurers improperly deny coverage.

Copyright © 2020, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 195

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About this Author

Sergio F. Oehninger Insurance Coverage Attorney Hunton Andrews Kurth Washington, DC
Partner

Sergio represents companies in complex insurance coverage and bad faith disputes nationally and internationally.

Sergio counsels multinational corporations on insurance coverage and risk management issues arising in various industries – including financial services, retail, energy, technology, real estate, construction, and hospitality.

His insurance coverage advice focuses on risks such as: cyber and data breach; commercial general liability; directors and officers; professional liability; employment practices; property and casualty; business interruption;...

202-955-1854
Daniel Hentschel Complex Business Litigation Attorney Hunton Andrews Kurth Miami, FL
Associate

Daniel’s practice focuses on complex business litigation, with an emphasis on insurance coverage litigation and government investigations.

With experience in the areas of insurance litigation, bad faith and government investigations, Daniel represents corporate entities in complex litigation disputes in both federal and state court. Daniel’s practice focuses on counseling clients on insurance coverage disputes arising out of cyber policies, crime policies, commercial general liability (CGL) policies, professional liability/errors and omissions (E&O) policies, and directors and officers liability (D&O) policies.

Prior to joining the firm, Daniel represented clients in diverse industries, working to resolve their disputes through the most effective and efficient means possible, from informal negotiations to mediation, arbitration and litigation. During law school, Daniel participated in the Innocence Project. He is admitted to practice in Florida, as well as the United States District Courts for the Southern, Middle, and Northern Districts of Florida, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully negotiated settlements involving multi-million dollar insurance disputes through mediation and alternative dispute resolution.
  • Represented corporation in federal law suit involving insurance coverage for claims of wrongful death.
  • Litigated insurance coverage disputes arising out of construction defect claims under commercial general liability policies.
  • Successfully argued dispositive motions in both federal and state court in matters involving insurance coverage for catastrophic injuries.
305-810-2469