Virus exclusion in a dentist's commercial insurance with a unit of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. blocks coverage for coronavirus-related losses, a federal court ruled Wednesday.
The ruling marks another win for insurance companies fighting hundreds of lawsuits. of nationwide companies seeking cover for lost revenue due to government suspensions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.
While most of a handful of judgments so far have focused on whether companies had suffered a physical loss from the virus, Wednesday's judgment in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida in Fort Myers states that virus exclusion in the policy is sufficient for to justify the insurer's denial of claim.
Mauricio Martinez v Allied Insurance Co. of America Dr. Martinez filed an application for lost revenue and reorganization costs with Columbus, Ohio-based Allied Insurance after he was forced to close his dental tice when Florida declared a state of emergency in March.
The Allied Insurance Policy contained an exemption for loss or damage caused "directly or indirectly" by any "virus, bacterium or other micro-organism that induces or may induce physical distress, illness or disease," court documents state.
While Allied Insurance presented several different arguments in its claim for dismissal, the virus exclusion clearly prevented coverage, but the court ruled.
"Since Martinez's injuries were due to COVID-1
The decision is the latest in a series of COVID-19 decisions and legal proceedings that have largely benefited insurers. for example, a federal court in California ruled in favor of Travelers Cos Inc. in a COVID-19 case, stating that "deterioration of economically valuable use of property" does not amount to physical loss or damage under the terms.
Policyholders won however, a round in its coverage contest with Cincinnati Insurance Co. when a Missouri federal judge rejected the insurer's proposal to to reject a lawsuit from a group of hair salons and restaurants.  More insurance and risk management news about the coronavirus crisis here .