Top Ohio court skeptical of insurance coverage for COVID business losses

  • Ohio Supreme Court weighs whether coverage available through commercial property insurance
  • Insurance industry has defeated hundreds of similar cases nationally

(Reuters) – Justices on Ohio’s top court expressed skepticism on Tuesday that commercial property insurance policies cover any of the losses businesses sustained due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the third such case to reach a state’s top court, the Ohio Supreme Court appeared likely to join a majority of mostly federal courts nationwide that have rejected hundreds of claims by companies for insurance coverage amid the pandemic.

As a lawyer for an audiology services provider that brought a proposed class action against Cincinnati Insurance Co argued the virus could cause property damage entitling businesses to coverage, justices questioned that premise.

“I’m struggling with how you define that as physical damage,” Justice Sharon Kennedy said.

While insurance policies are governed by state law, the insurance industry’s victories fending off claims in similar cases have largely come from federal courts. Only two other state’s supreme courts, in Massachusetts and Vermont, have taken up the issue.