US bills and medical masksAs of this writing, there are nearly 1,500 pending lawsuits between policyholders and insurers seeking rulings as to whether business interruption or other losses are covered under first-party property insurance policies. The first lawsuit was filed on March 16, 2020 and new litigation is still being filed nearly a year later. Many of the policies have suit limitation provisions which, where enforceable, contractually reduce the statute of limitations, some to as short as one year, such that many more filings are expected as we get closer to the anniversary of the impact of COVID-19 in the United States. Moreover, other policies have longer suit limitation periods or none at all, and so those lawsuits are yet to be filed. In addition, insurers and policyholders in certain situations have no doubt entered into tolling agreements. Taken together, this means that we are at the proverbial tip of the iceberg in terms of number of suits that will ultimately be filed.

The lawsuits involve numerous insurers and many different industries and classes of businesses. The largest single category of policyholders is in hospitality—restaurants and food services. The lawsuits have also reached into nearly every jurisdiction in the United States.