One of the threshold issues in COVID-19 insurance coverage cases that have been brought across the country is whether the policyholder’s allegations meet the applicable pleading standard in alleging that the virus caused physical loss or damage. In many cases, the courts have gotten it wrong, effectively holding policyholders to a higher standard than required. But recently, a California federal judge righted those wrongs by acknowledging the correct pleading standard in that case, which is whether the allegations state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). The Court, here, correctly recognized that the policyholder, the Los Angeles Lakers, met that pleading standard when it alleged that the COVID-19 virus can cause physical loss or damage by physically altering property.
Continue Reading California Court Forces Insurer to Play Ball in COVID-19 Insurance Coverage Suit

From IRS rulings that “virtual currency” is taxed as “property” to an SEC lawsuit claiming that digital assets are “securities” under federal law, meteoric growth of the largely unregulated crypto industry has raised numerous questions about whether crypto-related risks are covered by insurance. In the latest example of the intersection of crypto and insurance, a California federal court recently held that cryptocurrency stolen from a Coinbase account did not constitute a covered loss under a homeowner’s insurance policy. The fundamental issue was whether the stolen crypto met the policy’s requirement for “direct physical loss to property” and, more specifically, whether the losses were “physical” in nature. The court ruled against coverage, reasoning that lost control of cryptocurrency is not a direct physical loss as a matter of California law.
Continue Reading California Holds Stolen Cryptocurrency Does Not Qualify as “Physical” Loss Under Homeowners’ Policy

Prior posts in this series have discussed insurance coverage issues that pertain directly to wildfire claims, but we have not yet addressed how one proceeds following a loss.  In this post in the Blog’s Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, we discuss the preparation, submission and negotiation of the insurance claim.
Continue Reading Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, Part 7: How to Successfully Prepare, Submit and Negotiate the Claim 

Because of the potential exposure associated with wildfires, many insurers have attempted to withdraw from the property coverage market in various states. In this post in the Blog’s Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, we discuss the challenges businesses and individuals face in obtaining wildfire insurance coverage, and the regulatory scheme that is intended to help them secure adequate coverage.
Continue Reading Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, Part 6: Ensuring Availability of Insurance and State Regulations

Insurance policies provide different levels of insurance coverage and even if the amount purchased was adequate at one time, developments over time (e.g., inflation, upgrades, regulatory changes and surge pricing) may leave the policyholder underinsured. In this post in the Blog’s Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, we emphasize the need for policyholders to take a close look at the policy’s terms to select the right type and amount of coverage for a potential loss.
Continue Reading Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, Part 5: Valuation of Loss, Sublimits, and Amount of Potential Recovery

Business loss is not limited to fire or smoke damage to its own property – it often arises from damage to the supply chain. In this post in the Blog’s Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, we look at what coverage may exist when wildfire damages an entity’s supply chain.
In many instances, while the insured property does not sustain fire or smoke damage, wildfires can wreak havoc on the business supply chain. For some, contingent business interruption coverage may be a solution. Contingent business interruption insurance extends coverage for the loss of prospective earnings because of an interruption in the insured’s supply chain that is caused by damage to property that the insured neither owns nor operates. Typically, the property covered is of a supplier or customer. For example, in 2000, Ericsson Telecom A.B., a mobile phone manufacturer, presented a substantial contingent business interruption claim based on a fire that damaged a Royal Philips Electronics semiconductor plant. Royal Philips supplied critical components for Ericsson’s mobile phones. The fire caused Royal Philips to close its plant, halting Ericsson’s phone production for six weeks, resulting in substantial losses.

Continue Reading Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, Part 4: Coverage for Supply Chain Related Losses

Even when claims are within the scope of coverage, insurers often rely on exclusions in an attempt to avoid coverage for wildfire claims. In this post in the Blog’s Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, we discuss the interplay between coverage grants and exclusions, and the “anti-concurrent cause” provision.
Continue Reading Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, Part 3: Standard Form Policy Exclusions

For many policyholders, smoke emanating from wildfire causes as much if not more damage than the fire itself.  In this post in the Blog’s Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, we discuss damages caused by smoke emanating from wildfires.
Continue Reading Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, Part 2: Coverage for Smoke-Related Damages

Wildfires destroy millions of acres a year in the United States, spewing smoke across much of the nation. The cost of damage alone over the past several years soars into the hundreds of billions. As wildfires continue to spread, particularly as we enter wildfire season, policyholders’ claims will rise and with that, so too will wildfire insurance coverage issues. Many believe that when a fire damages their property and/or interrupts their business operations, a claim gets submitted and is automatically paid; sadly, this is often not the case.
In a seven-part series delving into issues relating to wildfire insurance coverage, the Hunton insurance group provides a comprehensive understanding of the types of policies that may be available, legal and factual issues that may arise, and steps policyholders can take – both in advance and during the claims process – to maximize recovery.

Continue Reading Hunton Insurance Group Advises Policyholders on Issues That Arise With Wildfire Claims and Coverage – A Seven-Part Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series

Recently, the Ninth Circuit dealt with a case involving a scenario that is becoming all too common. In Ernst & Haas Mgmt. Co., Inc. v. Hiscox, Inc., 23 F.4th 1195 (9th Cir. 2022), a property management company’s accounts payable clerk received several e-mails from her supervisor instructing her to pay some invoices. Unbeknownst to the clerk, these e-mails did not originate with her supervisor, but were actually part of a fraudulent scheme to elicit fraudulent bank transfers. The clerk paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars in “invoices” before becoming suspicious but, by then, it was too late and the damage was done.
Continue Reading A Win for Policyholders Who Are Victims of Fraudulent Bank Transfer Schemes