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Hospital at heart of pandemic response sues for COVID-19 cover


A New York hospital at the center of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic sued a Chubb Ltd. unit on Friday seeking coverage for coronavirus-related losses under a health care premises pollution liability policy.

In Northwell Health Inc. v. Illinois Union Insurance Co. filed in state court in Manhattan, the hospital system, which operates 23 hospitals and 800 outpatient facilities in the state, said it has treated more COVID-19 patients than any other hospital system, but it lost revenue when it suspended elective procedures during the outbreak.

New York was the epicenter of the disease in the United States in the spring and has reported more than 400,000 confirmed cases and more than 32,000 deaths. Northwell said it has successfully treated more than 50,000 COVID-19 patients.

According to the suit, the health care premises pollution liability policy that Northwell bought from Illinois Union, which has a $20 million limit and was placed by Marsh LLC, “straightforwardly provides coverage for ‘remediation costs,’ ‘emergency response costs,’ and ‘decontamination costs’ associated with ‘facility-borne illness events’ and ‘pollution conditions,’ as well as business interruption caused by ‘covered pollution conditions.’”

The Chubb unit, however, denied the claim on the grounds that the pandemic did not meet the policy definition of either a facility-borne illness or pollution condition, the suit says.

“These positions are meritless, as the definition of ‘facility-borne illness’ includes ‘virus’ as long as the virus is not solely the result of communicability through human-to-human contact, which, because it has been established that coronavirus can exist on surfaces, COVID-19 is not,” the suit says.

In addition, a pollution condition includes the presence of hazardous materials, including infectious wastes, the suit says.

A Chubb spokesman said the insurer does not comment on policyholder claims or pending legal matters.

More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here