Insurance Coverage for COVID-19 Losses: A Policyholder’s View on Groundbreaking Legal Authority, Establishing Business Interruption Coverage, and Combatting So-Called “Virus” Exclusions


CLE credits earned: 1 General Credit (WA 1 Law and Legal)

Bent on discouraging claims and avoiding lawsuits, insurance companies have outright denied business interruption claims regardless of the circumstances and despite the clear language of their policies providing coverage for such losses. The industry’s effort to construct a case against liability is built around a central pillar – that COVID-19 does not constitute “physical loss or damage” to property necessary to trigger coverage under commercial property policies. In a resounding victory for policyholders a mere five months after the pandemic swept the U.S., a federal court in Missouri became the first of many to signal that the levee has already broken.  This CLE course will analyze the ongoing COVID-19 coverage litigation from the policyholder’s perspective by exploring subjects including (1) the groundbreaking opinion of Studio 417, Inc. v. The Cincinnati Ins. Co. and subsequent nationwide authority regarding their favorable interpretation of the “physical loss or damage” requirement, (2) the various types of so-called “virus exclusions” being invoked by insurers, and (3) the critical considerations in seeking to establish coverage for COVID-19 losses.  Attendees of all experience levels will come away with a better understanding of national trends and how to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with this type of litigation.

Key topics to be discussed:

•  The groundbreaking opinion of Studio 417, Inc. v. The Cincinnati Ins. Co. and subsequent nationwide authority regarding their favorable interpretation of the “physical loss or damage” requirement
•  The various types of so-called “virus exclusions” being invoked by insurers to avoid coverage
•  The critical policyholder considerations in seeking to establish coverage for COVID-19 losses 

Date / Time: December 16, 2020

•   3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Eastern
•   2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Central
•   1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Mountain
•   12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Pacific

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•   Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program “live” in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for “live” CLE credit.
•   On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 5 Business days after the original recording date and are view-able for up to one year.

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Original Broadcast Date: December 16, 2020

Walter J. Andrews | Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

As the head of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s insurance coverage practice, Walter Andrews offers clients more than 30 years of experience managing insurance-related issues, including program audits, policy manuscripting, counseling, litigation, and arbitration. He works with companies in a diverse range of industries, including financial services, consumer products, food and beverages, chemicals, real estate and municipalities. Walter regularly advises clients on potential D&O and cyber insurance coverage for data breach claims, as well as a variety of insurance contracts, including professional liability, first party property, general liability insurance policies, cyberinsurance, and various reinsurance agreements. He is the former Chair of the ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee and a Fellow of the American College of Coverage Counsel. Walter can be reached at (305) 810-6407 or

Cary D. Steklof | Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

Cary D. Steklof is an associate based out of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s Miami office. With experience in the areas of insurance litigation, insurer bad faith and unfair insurance practices, Cary concentrates his practice on advising policyholders in connection with D&O, E&O, cyber, commercial general liability and commercial property insurance policies. Cary also regularly reviews the insurance programs of domestic and international companies to provide advice on mitigating risks and gaps in insurance. He has extensive experience representing bankruptcy trustees, receivers, assignees, and corporate entities in disputes with all types of insurers. Cary can be reached at (305) 810-2463 or

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I. Overview of Key Topic Areas – 3:00-3:05

II. The Requirement of “Physical Loss or Damage” 3:05-3:20
a. Case Background of Studio 417 and Subsequent Favorable Authority
b. Understanding “Loss” as Something More Than a Tangible Alteration to Property
c. Interpreting “Loss” and “Damage” to have Different Meanings

II. Addressing So-Called “Virus Exclusions” Invoked by Insurers 3:20-3:35
a. Relevant Principles of Policy Construction
b. Fungi/Bacteria Exclusions
c. Pollution/Contaminant Exclusions
d. ISO Virus Exclusion

III. Critical Policyholder Considerations to Establish Coverage 3:35-3:50
a. Pleading the Presence of COVID-19 on the Insured Property
b. Additional Coverages to Evaluate and Pursue

IV. Conclusion and Questions 3:50-4:00