Insurer Aviva Canada faces a proposed class-action lawsuit that claims Canadian businesses have been denied contagious-disease coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Toronto law firm Thomson Rogers filed a request for certification of a class action last week in the Ontario Superior Court against Aviva Insurance Company of Canada, alleging the company failed to honour its business-interruption claims for Canadian businesses with what is known as enterprise-insurance policies. The policies include protection for the loss of business income as a result of an outbreak of a contagious or infectious disease.
“Because this matter is in litigation, we’re unable to comment publicly,” said Jennifer Shah, a spokesperson for Aviva Canada.
The case is the latest in a string of proposed class-actions that have been filed against insurers who offered business-interruption insurance to small and large companies. In May, Merchant Law Group LLP applied for certification as a Canada-wide class-action on behalf of business owners and some self-employed professionals whose business-interruption insurance claims have been denied during the COVID-19 pandemic, including owners of hotels, bars, restaurants and salons.
Monday’s class action application was filed on behalf of Nordik Windows Inc., a window manufacturing and installation company in Ontario. Nordik filed a claim under its enterprise-insurance policy when it had to close for several months because of the pandemic. The lawsuit seeks $100-million in damages on behalf of companies whose claims were denied.
According to court documents, Aviva denied the claim in early June, stating COVID-19 does not constitute an outbreak of a contagious or infectious disease.
“Aviva has allegedly failed to honour its good-faith obligations to its policy-holders with respect to business-interruption claims resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Robert Ben and Stephen Birman, partners at Thomson Rogers, said in a statement. “This has put Canadian companies on the brink when they are most vulnerable.”
Mr. Ben told The Globe and Mail he is urging Canadian businesses to take a second look at their insurance policies, as many are unaware that they have contagious-disease coverage, and some may have claims that have wrongly been denied by Aviva.
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