Insurance companies and arts organizations grapple over losses caused by pandemic

Posted on: May 7, 2020

“When it became clear in March that the coronavirus pandemic was likely to decimate the cultural world, anxious arts administrators began to pull out thick binders and call their agents to help them interpret the jargon inside. At least they had insurance,” writes Julia Jacobs in Tuesday’s (5/5) New York Times. “Businesses across the country are filing insurance claims for losses related to the pandemic. But … insurance companies have issued a torrent of denials, prompting lawsuits across the country and legislative efforts on the state and federal levels to force insurers to make payments…. Industry [insurance] leaders have maintained that the standard policy does not cover losses caused by a pandemic…. Policies tailored for theatrical productions typically do not require physical losses… Some [Broadway] shows have already received advance payments from insurance companies… Even within the same cultural niche, not all arts organizations followed the same playbook. Carnegie Hall, for example, has filed a business interruption claim, while the Metropolitan Opera does not even have such a policy, calling it ‘prohibitively expensive.’ Movie theaters are also filing business interruption insurance claims, a spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners said, but none have reported receiving a payout so far.”