Global Human Rights Group Urges Insurance Commissioners Nationwide to Ensure Covid-19 Business Interruption Coverage
May 21, 2020
Simon Wiesenthal Center pens letter to all 50 state insurance commissioners
Global Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center today announced that it has issued a letter to all 50 insurance commissioners across the country, urging the insurance industry to properly honor all policies that clearly cover losses from COVID-19.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center—like many other non-profits and small businesses across the country—is struggling to deal with the devastating impact of COVID-19 and has joined the Business Interruption Group (BIG), a growing coalition of companies seeking business interruption coverage in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In April, the Simon Wiesenthal Center sued its insurance company Chubb, demanding coverage for coronavirus losses.
“We are taking a leadership role on behalf of all the non-profits and businesses to urge the insurance companies to do the right thing and promptly fulfill their obligations,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In 2015, there were approximately 1.56 million nonprofits registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Their letter read in part: “The impact of the industry’s refusal to honor its contractual obligations on the thousands of insured companies—including our institution—could be catastrophic, with many companies going under and untold number of Americans permanently losing their jobs,” the letter states. “We are not seeking special treatment—we are only seeking what is rightfully covered under our existing policies.”
Specifically, the letter calls on the commissioners to issue a directive that:
1. Insurers must disclose to policyholders when policies do not contain virus and pandemic exclusions.
2. Insurers may not deny policy benefits based solely upon the denial that the virus causes a property loss or damage condition.
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).
About John Houghtaling & the Business Interruption Group
John Houghtaling is a nationally known attorney and insurance expert who initiated the coronavirus litigation on March 16, 2020. He has since compiled a large coalition of stakeholders in the restaurant, hospitality and hotel industry under the Business Interruption Group (BIG). Houghtaling leads Gauthier Murphy & Houghtaling, the high-profile New Orleans law firm that filed the Castano litigation leading to a landmark $246 billion dollar tobacco settlement. His representation of more than 1,000 storm victims in Superstorm Sandy has also led to the uncovering of a national fraud scandal, resulting in the arrest of an insurance executive, federal fines against an insurer, and hundreds of millions of dollars being recovered by storm victims.