Pennsylvania Proposes Legislation Aimed Easing the Burden on Policyholders During COVID-19 Pandemic*

April 17, 2020

*Co-Authored by Adam J. Tragone, Christopher J. Azzara and Erica L. Laughlin

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have proposed legislation aimed at easing the burden on policyholders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft legislation, which has recently been referred to the House Insurance Committee, would extend property policies’ business interruption coverage to losses attributable to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing rules that would not be covered by the plain language of the policy and/or would not be covered due to an exclusion.

After the SARS outbreak in 2003, some insurance companies added exclusions to their policies related to communicable diseases and viruses.  However, with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, many state legislatures throughout the country have attempted to ease the burden on small businesses who have been affected by stay-at-home orders and social distancing.   Pennsylvania lawmakers, on April 3, 2020, introduced House Bill 2372 which would require insurers providing coverage for “loss or damage to property, which includes the loss of use and occupancy and business interruption” to include “coverage for business interruption due to global virus transmission or pandemic.”   Insurers would be mandated toprovide coverage to policyholders subject to “the broadest or greatest limit and lowest deductible afforded to business interruption coverage under the insurance policy,” the proposed legislation states.

However, the proposed law applies only to policies in effect on March 6, 2020, and issued to insureds with fewer than 100 eligible employees.  Insurers that pay out business interruption claims under the proposed act can apply to the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner for reimbursement, the proposed legislation states.

If you have any questions about your policy and whether it provides coverage for business interruption claims, please do not hesitate to contact Adam Tragone, at atragone@smgglaw.com, Christopher Azzara at cazzara@smgglaw.com, or Erica L. Laughlin at elaughlin@smgglaw.com.