One of the long term effects of Covid-19 may well be that insurers and agents suffer a series of legal actions over the exact policy wording within business interruption products. There is a big challenge ahead for insurers active in the hospitality sector. Here’s the latest from the USA;
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and the Law Office of Alexandra L. Foote, P.C. announce the filing of a restaurant insurance breach of contract lawsuit on behalf of Dominique Crenn and Atelier Crenn, Bar Crenn, and Petit Crenn against Farmer’s Group Inc. in San Francisco Superior Court.
The complaint alleges that Crenn’s business interruption insurance policy claims were wrongly denied by Farmers Group after the restaurants suffered grave financial losses after complying with government-ordered COVID-19 business shutdowns. The lawsuit follows the previous filings for acclaimed chefs Pim Techamuanvivit (Kin Khao, Nari in San Francisco), Daniel Patterson (Alta Adams in Los Angeles; Coi in San Francisco), and Naomi Pomeroy (Beast in Portland).
Crenn’s restaurants purchased business interruption insurance from Farmers Group and Truck Insurance Exchange that include express coverage for “Lost Business Income” and the consequences of actions by “Civil Authority.” Contrary to the coverage provisions in their policies, when Crenn submitted claims for coverage, Farmers and Truck Insurance summarily denied the claims. The complaint further alleges that these denials were part of a premeditated strategy on the part of the defendant insurers to deny all claims relating to “shelter in place” orders and COVID-19.
“I have known Dominique Crenn since the beginning of her first restaurant, Atelier Crenn, and have helped her face business challenges over the years,” notes Alexandra Foote, who also represents Crenn in the case.
The complaint maintains that the denial of valid and justified insurance claims constitutes a breach of contract as well as a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and unfair business practices, and seeks declaratory relief and damages.