- COVID-19 and business interruption insurance—cover for ‘Plague’ (Rockliffe Hall v Travelers Insurance)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Insurance & Reinsurance analysis: the High Court considered one of many topical insurance issues left unresolved by the recent Supreme Court ‘test case’ on business interruption insurance (The Financial Conduct Authority v Arch Insurance (UK) Ltd & Others  UKSC 1), namely whether there was cover for losses arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic under a policy with a ‘closed list’ disease clause. The policy in question provided cover against the outbreak of a range of infectious diseases, including ‘Plague’ but not COVID-19. The policyholder argued that the word ‘Plague’ should be read as a general term for an infectious disease with a high mortality rate, epidemic or pandemic, such that loss caused by COVID-19 would be covered. The court rejected this interpretation and held that the word ‘Plague’ was intended to refer to the specific disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The clause therefore did not cover loss caused by COVID-19 and the policyholder’s claim was struck out. Written by Martyn Naylor, barrister at 4 Pump Court Chambers. Martyn was instructed as junior counsel in the Supreme Court ‘test case’ and recently obtained summary judgment for an insurer in a ‘closed list’ disease clause case similar to the present.
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