Insurance Coverage: Defining Physical Loss or Damage; Testing Assumptions About What Triggers Coverage

A live 90-minute CLE video webinar with interactive 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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

1:00pm-2:30pm EST, 10:00am-11:30am PST

Early Registration Discount Deadline, Friday, December 16, 2022

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will discuss the current legal landscape on the issue of whether "physical loss or damage" requires the policyholder to present evidence of "distinct, demonstrable, physical alteration of the property," and whether COVID-19-related losses meet this standard. Our panel will include counsel representing both the policyholders and the insurance carriers. Their discussion will focus on the origins of the physical alteration requirement and an overview of the recent appellate authorities addressing this issue.


Business income coverage, as most property insurance coverage, is ordinarily triggered by "physical loss or damage," so the meaning of this phrase is of utmost importance to both insurers and policyholders. Many appellate courts around the nation have held that physical loss or damage cannot exist without--or only exists in the presence of--distinct, verifiable, and physical alteration of the property.

Moreover, insurance carriers contend that COVID-19-related losses, including the loss of use of property, and the presence of coronavirus on property, do not satisfy this standard. Policyholders respond that this view is too narrow, is inconsistent with precedent from other unusual losses, and that pleading standards can be satisfied such that the cases can proceed to factual and expert discovery that they believe will establish their cases.  Thus far, the majority of courts reviewing these issues have agreed with the carriers.

Listen as this experienced panel discusses the law of direct physical loss and how to think critically about the issue.



  1. Historical overview of property insurance
  2. General framework of business interruption insurance coverage
  3. Arguments and cases regarding virus as property damage
  4. Arguments and cases regarding coverage for closure by civil authority
  5. Arguments and cases regarding communicable disease coverage
  6. Recommendations for insureds and insurers going forward


The panel will review these and other pivotal questions:

  • What is the physical alteration of property?
  • Does the presence of virus satisfy the “physical alteration” standard?
  • How are the pleading standards in different jurisdictions relevant to COVID-19 business interruption issues?
  • From whose perspective is loss defined?


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

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

Stern, Max
Max H. Stern

Duane Morris

Mr. Stern is the head of the firm’s Insurance Litigation Division.  As a trial and appellate lawyer, he has...  |  Read More

Stern, Eric
Eric B. Stern

Kaufman Dolowich Voluck

Mr. Stern concentrates his practice in all aspects of insurance coverage litigation. He has analyzed, written on and...  |  Read More

Attend on January 10

Early Discount (through 12/16/22)

Cannot Attend January 10?

Early Discount (through 12/16/22)

You may pre-order a recording to listen at your convenience. Recordings are available 48 hours after the webinar. Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

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