Island View Casino sues insurer for COVID coverage

November 23, 2020
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Mississippi resort wants $10m for business losses, $90m in punitive damages

Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport, Mississippi, has filed a lawsuit against Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co., alleging the insurer is not honoring its cancellation coverage policy.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission ordered the casino to be shuttered from March 16 to May 21. Gulfside Casino Partnership, the resort’s parent company, said this led to a loss of $46.2m in revenue.

The casino has cancellation coverage, for which it pays an annual premium of $408,268. Island View asserts it was unable to accept guest bookings due to “a contagious or infectious disease at an insured location, as determined by a public or civil authority,” and that the loss is covered “whether or not physical damage occurs to the property.”

The resort carries $10m in coverage for cancellations, which the insurer is refusing to pay. The suit asks for the $10m for alleged breach of contract and negligence, plus $90m in punitive damages, attorney fees and interest.

In July, Crawford Global Technical Services, an insurance adjuster working with Westchester Surplus Lines, sent a letter to the casino group outlining its arguments why the losses were not covered by the resort’s policy. The letter stated in part, “As a general matter, the policies afford coverage only when there has been direct physical loss, damage or destruction. In the absence of such damage, there is not coverage.”

In addition, Crawford said that communicable disease is not covered per language in the casino’s policy.

Westchester Surplus Lines is headquartered in Alpharetta. Georgia.Global Technical Services is part of Crawford & Company, based in Atlanta.

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