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Wednesday, 13 May 2020 20:31

PA Bill Would Define COVID-19 as Property Damage

Written by Hannah Smith, PropertyCasualty360
The Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia sits empty during business closures Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia sits empty during business closures Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg

The Pennsylvania Senate is weighing a bill that would include losses spurred by the COVID-19 global pandemic under property and business interruption insurance coverage.

Although SB. 1127, which was introduced on April 30, does not explicitly state that insurers must cover COVID-19 business interruption claims, it would require insurers to pay claims that standard property policies do not typically cover.

 

Specifically, the bill states that if a covered property is located within a municipality where “the presence of the COVID-19 coronavirus has otherwise been detected,” that property is “deemed to have experienced property damage.”

 

Coronavirus is deemed to be “detected” when at least one or more persons present in that municipality has been positively identified as having been infected by COVID-19.

 

The bill also states that Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 emergency order to close businesses is to be considered an order of civil authority under a first-party insurance policy which limits, prohibits or restricts access to non-life-sustaining business locations “as a direct result of physical damage at or in the immediate vicinity of those locations.”

 

The bill would apply to all insurance policies that were active as of March 6, and would potentially constitute an interpretation of several key policy terms including “direct physical loss, damage or injury to tangible property,” a term that has been the core of the majority of COVID-19 insurance complaints that have been filed thus far.

 

We thank PropertyCasualty360 for reprint permission. 

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