The afternoon education sessions began with COVID Coverage Litigation and Its Variants: Where We Are Now and What Lies Ahead, presented by Julie Nevins, Partner, Stroock Stroock & Lavan; Erika Lopes-McLeman, Partner, Dentons; and Kelly Lloyd Lankford, Counsel, Dentons. Like the virus itself, the coverage litigation of COVID-related insurance claims has been quickly evolving over the past 2 years. The panel treated the membership to a brisk, up-to the minute survey of the three phases (or variants) of coverage litigation. An initial, fast moving wave of suits based solely on the business impact of government-ordered shut downs was largely unsuccessful; but as that wave has receded more sophisticated coverage theories have emerged alleging potential, and then actual, physical loss or damage, supported by expert witnesses reports and testimony. The panel highlighted crucial policy terms that insurers and policyholders are focusing on and key decisions. Finally, the panel shared the “scorecard” on coverage litigation nationwide, which reflects over 750 decisions favorable to insurers on COVID-related coverage claims, compared with fewer than 100 decisions in favor of policyholders. Will the increasingly sophisticated pleadings and a clearer picture of which courts are most sympathetic to policyholder claims bend the curve going forward? We will have to wait for the next update to find out. A replay of the presentation is available to members through the AIRROC On Demand platform.
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