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Providers Getting Pummeled in COVID-19 Property Insurance Lawsuits

Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to recouping pandemic-related financial losses.


Linda Kornfeld, a partner at Blank Rome who specializes in insurance recovery and is advising healthcare providers on such cases, said as providers' legal teams are increasingly learning more about the policies through the ongoing cases, they've been finding that even unseen viruses that invade a building's airspace and render it dangerous to inhabit constitute physical loss of property. Healthcare providers might have an even easier time with that than other types of businesses, since they can prove COVID was on their properties.

"The insurer strategy of shutting these cases down before policyholders can access their files has worked in many of these cases, but I believe that as more information about these policies and their meaning becomes available, more policyholders will prevail," Kornfeld said.


Kornfeld pushed back against the notion that property insurance is only meant to cover damage from disasters like fires, floods or hurricanes. That was the case decades ago, but now they're more commonly sold as "all risks" policies that are more inclusive.

When the law aimed at cleaning up environmental contamination sites known as Superfund sites was enacted in 1980, insurers similarly denied polluting companies' claims to cover the cleanup costs, Kornfeld noted. Early on, courts ruled in favor of the insurers. That is, until more sophisticated analysis of the policies determined their coverage was broader than insurers were making them out to be.

"As information is slowly coming out, we're finding the same kinds of things that we found in the environmental wars, where you're starting to see information that shows there is another story here than the ones the insurers are arguing in their motions to dismiss that they're filing everywhere," Kornfeld said.

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"Providers Getting Pummeled in COVID-19 Property Insurance Lawsuits," by Tara Bannow was published in Modern Healthcare on April 7, 2021.