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Business Interruption Coverage: Virus and Pollution Exclusions in Coronavirus-Related Claims

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will educate counsel for insurers and policyholders on how courts have split on coverage issues and exclusions impacting business interruption coverage related to the 2020 pandemic. The program will guide counsel through emerging rationales for both extending or denying coverage or applying specific exclusions.


Insurers everywhere have denied claims for business losses related to the 2020 pandemic or the governments' response. Policyholders have responded by filing suit. The result is a split among state and federal courts nationwide over what types of policies offer coverage and what plaintiffs must allege and prove to survive motions to dismiss or for summary judgment.

Since most policies require that a covered event involve "direct physical damage," the first hurdle policyholders must clear is proving that coverage is triggered. Plaintiffs have developed some compelling arguments in their favor.

Assuming coverage is triggered, then both the insurance company and the policyholder must navigate several exclusions, such as those for "viruses," "pollution and contamination," and "communicable diseases."

Listen as this experienced panel discusses the split among state and federal courts nationwide over what types of policies offer coverage and various exclusions based on the type of policy, specific policy language, and even policy considerations.



  1. First-party property insurance policies
    1. Business interruption coverage
    2. Contingent business interruption coverage
  2. Exclusions and exceptions to exclusions
    1. Virus
    2. Pollution, contamination, microbe
    3. Biologic agents
    4. Communicable disease
    5. Public policy objections to virus exclusion


This panel will explore these and other key questions:

  • What is "direct physical loss" that will trigger business interruption coverage?
  • How are courts interpreting the language of relevant exclusions?
  • Are a communicable disease coverage grant and a contamination exclusion mutually exclusive?
  • Does the virus exclusion apply if the "virus" is only one of several concurrent causes of loss?
  • Does the virus exclusion apply if a business is closed to prevent contamination?
  • Are there any public policy arguments against a virus coverage exclusion?


Levine, Michael
Michael S. Levine

Hunton Andrews Kurth

Mr. Levine has more than 20 years of experience litigating insurance disputes and advising clients on insurance...  |  Read More

Lytle, Joann
Joann M. Lytle

McCarter & English

Ms. Lytle represents corporate policyholders in insurance coverage disputes. She handles disputes involving...  |  Read More

Raskin, Jeffrey
Jeffrey S. Raskin

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Mr. Raskin is head of the firm’s Insurance Recovery Practice in the San Francisco office. He has...  |  Read More

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