Generali U.S. Branch faces at least two more proposed class action lawsuits that allege the insurer has breached its contracts with travel insurance policyholders whose plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuits, filed on August 6 in South Carolina and August 13 in Texas, allege Generali’s categorical denial of policyholders’ coverage claims for trips canceled due to the public health crisis is wrongful given the plaintiffs bought their respective policies weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic sparked state and federal travel restrictions.
According to the August 6 suit, the plaintiff booked a summer vacation to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands around February 21 via travel website HomeAway. For the trip, the plaintiff bought a proprietary and standard Form series T001 “CSA Travel Protection” insurance policy, with Generali U.S. Branch designated as the insurer, the case says.
Per the complaint, the plaintiff was forced to cancel her U.S. Virgin Islands trip on June 15 due to the prevalence of the coronavirus and various domestic and foreign travel restrictions. Though the consumer promptly made a claim to Generali for reimbursement for the more than $5,000 she spent on her now-canceled trip, the defendant denied the claim on the grounds that “the cause of loss is not due to an event that is covered by the plan you purchased,” and was, in any event, excluded as a “foreseeable event under any plans” bought on or after January 29, 2020, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiff alleges Generali and its claims administrator have “systematically denied” all virus-related travel cancellation claims associated with T001 form policies, pointing to the boilerplate response she received from the insurer.
“The June 15, 2020 denial correspondence [the plaintiff] received was a boilerplate, form denial not tailored to [the plaintiff’s] specific and individual claim,” the suit says, contesting that the coronavirus was not a foreseeable event for any proposed class member until a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization.
The August 13 case rings similar, with the plaintiff, a Policy Form series T001 owner, claiming Generali U.S. Branch refused to cover a trip to a wedding in San Marcos, Texas scheduled for early April.
When the plaintiff booked the trip, which was to include a drive through Texas to a VRBO.com rental property, on January 27, neither she nor any other consumers could have foreseen the outbreak of a worldwide viral pandemic, the lawsuit argues. The suit says the plaintiff bought a travel insurance policy on March 14 in light of pandemic-related disaster declarations and travel restrictions, prior to the wedding’s cancellation.
The plaintiff submitted a claim to the defendant on April 1 and received on May 19 a denial letter that read, in part, “the cause of [the plaintiff’s] loss is not due to an event that is covered by the plan [she] purchased,” the case claims, arguing that the fact that the woman was unable to access the accommodations she booked for the wedding constituted a covered event under her policy.
“Despite unambiguous language in the policy, which is a fully integrated insurance agreement, Defendants breached the policy by failing to indemnify Plaintiff for the losses she incurred as a result of the forced cancellation of her travel plans due to a covered event,” the complaint reads.