Property Damage and COVID-19
In the beginning of 2020, many businesses were forced to shutter their doors due to the outbreak of COVID-19. As society has grappled with dealing with a pandemic, businesses have also grappled with dealing with outbreaks, resulting in expensive sanitization practices and even temporary closure. The question as to whether COVID-19 causes property damage under commercial property insurance policies has continued to pop-up.
Insurance companies typically argue that a virus cannot cause property damage, as it does not cause any "direct physical loss or damage." However, courts across the country have disagreed with this line of thinking, finding that "direct physical loss" also includes the loss of use or access to covered property, even when not structurally altered.
Although no Florida court has yet to deal with this question, science may now back up the other courts which have faced it. Scientists have recently discovered that COVID-19 adheres to surfaces and creates "fomites" when it comes into contact with surfaces, or objects likely to carry infection. In addition, scientists have discovered that disinfectants are not entirely effective in removing COVID-19 from surfaces and are especially ineffective on surfaces that are continually reintroduced to the virus.
This means that in some cases, business owners may be entitled to coverage under their commercial property insurance policies in the event they are forced to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak or engage in costly sanitization practices.
This article is not intended to be legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship.