Closed title company in Florida. Businesses like the Pembroke Pines Tag Agency in Pembroke Pines, Fla., closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with many suffering financial losses they are trying to recoup through insurance coverage. (Photo: J. Albert Diaz/ALM)

As COVID-19 litigation has progressed across the country regarding insurance coverage for business interruption, insurers have cited an array of so-called “virus exclusions” to avoid their contractual obligations. Simply stated, insurers have made an industrywide practice of discouraging and combating lawsuits by relying on any exclusion that has the word “virus” in it.

The law in many jurisdictions, including Florida, provides that an exclusion only applies when it is clearly and unambiguously intended to bar coverage for the risk in question. But if this is true, is it appropriate for carriers to avoid coverage by citing exclusions drafted decades ago to address things like industrial pollution and fungus? One Florida court has now answered this question in favor of policyholders.

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