Proposed California Legislation Would Eliminate Certain Obstacles to Coverage for COVID-19 Business Income Losses

July 14, 2020 Published Article

On July 2, 2020, the California Legislature amended California Assembly Bill 1552 to help policyholders seeking business interruption coverage for their COVID-19 losses. The draft legislation states the need for the legislation to go into immediate effect in “order to protect the solvency of businesses that were forced to close their doors or limit business” due to the pandemic. If adopted, the proposed legislation would apply to all commercial insurance policies providing coverage for business interruption in effect on and after March 4, 2020.

The proposed legislation would create rebuttable presumptions in favor of coverage for losses due to COVID-19 under Business Income, Extra Expense, Civil Authority and Ingress and Egress policy provisions. For instance, the proposed legislation would create presumptions that COVID-19 was present at the insured premises and caused damage to the insured property. The draft legislation also specifies that the virus shall not be considered a pollutant unless the policy specifies otherwise. The ultimate impact of the draft legislation is unclear however, given that it specifically “does not affect the applicability of any policy provision, including any language addressing loss or damage caused by a virus.”

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