Disney sued by insurer in latest dispute over COVID-19 coverage


Walt Disney Co. is facing legal action from an insurance company unwilling to pay coverage for certain film and television production delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, asking the court to rule on the dispute over the claims, which includes $ 10 million in insurance coverage for delays that occurred after the productions were allowed to start over.

A Disney spokesperson did not immediately comment.

Productions in California kicked off last year after unions and Hollywood studios agreed to protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including physical distancing and mandatory masking without being in front of or in front of the camera.

Legal experts have long expected insurance to be a point of contention between insurers and studios as filming intensified amid the pandemic. Additional health and safety protocols and closures have added millions of dollars to the costs of filming and television shooting.

Disney lawsuit latest in major build-up of litigation surrounding pandemic insurance claims in entertainment and other industries. In September, the production company behind Ben Affleck’s heist thriller “Hypnotic” sued its insurance company for refusing to extend coverage without ruling out losses from COVID-19.

Disney’s insurer is not disputing claims related to the “first wave” of COVID-19 closures, which were ordered by state and local governments at the start of the US epidemics in March 2020.

However, the company says it shouldn’t have to pay to cover what it calls “second wave” claims, or delays on productions that occurred after filming and television shooting went off. been cleared to resume in California and elsewhere.

An example of a second wave claim, according to the Fireman’s Fund, would be when a manager is exposed to a “non-essential” worker who has tested for COVID-19, forcing the manager to quarantine himself for 14 days.

According to Fireman’s Fund, Disney claims coverage is available for such situations as part of its insurance policy. The insurer disputes this. For example, the Fireman’s Fund has said that Disney is not entitled to coverage for such situations under its “casting coverage” policy, which applies when necessary personnel die, become ill or are injured.

Actor insurance is common on Hollywood productions and compensates producers for any loss or additional expense to complete principal photography due to the death, injury or illness of any insured artist or director.

The Fireman’s Fund maintains that expenses resulting from “covered cast / crew members who were otherwise healthy should be quarantined due to exposure to people who tested positive and / or infected” are not covered.

In addition, the insurer contests claims related to so-called civil authority and imminent peril provisions. Civilian authority coverage applies to losses due to a city or other government forcing a shutdown. An imminent peril would cover losses caused by a threat such as a storm or forest fire.

The insurer has also disputed claims resulting from the extended production disruption advocated by governments and Los Angeles, Atlanta and London during the 2020-21 holiday season due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The Fireman’s Fund has said it should not be responsible for these claims. The complaint argues, for example, that the company’s “Civil Authority” coverage was not triggered by government requests, but would only be triggered by “orders revoking authorization to use or prohibiting the use of the company. ‘access to facilities used’ by the production team.

Times editor Anousha Sakoui contributed to this report.

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