United Specialty Insurance Company (USIC) has refused to issue refunds for insured Epic ski passes that could not be used due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a proposed class action.
The lawsuit explains that non-party Vail Corporation sells “Epic Passes” that grant customers daily, weekly, or annual access to skiing and snowboarding at its more than 34 resorts throughout the U.S. Per the complaint, Vail offers Epic Pass insurance through USIC that purports to provide refunds when a policyholder is unable to use an insured ski pass due to a covered peril.
Echoing a similar suit filed in May, the case alleges that although thousands of individuals who purchased Epic Pass insurance were unable to use their passes after Vail closed its resorts in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, USIC has refused to issue refunds for covered passes.
The plaintiff says he purchased a Vail Local Pass with added pass insurance in September 2019 expecting that he would have access to Vail resorts through the end of the season and could claim a refund if he were unable to make full use of the pass.
On March 15, Vail announced it was closing its resorts indefinitely, at least until the end of the 2019-20 season, due to the COVID-19 situation, the suit says. Meanwhile, state governors and the president issued various orders restricting travel and limiting non-essential activities, including skiing and snowboarding, the case relays.
The plaintiff claims he was deprived of the full use of his Epic Pass due to the closures and quarantine-related restrictions. On June 10, the plaintiff submitted a claim to American Claims Management (ACM), the defendant’s third-party claims administrator, for a pro-rated refund of the unused days on his Epic Pass that was allegedly denied on the basis that the “Effective Date of Coverage” ended on March 15 when the resorts closed. Moreover, the plaintiff was told by ACM he needed to submit a physician’s orders stating that he was placed in quarantine in order to qualify for coverage, the case says.
According to the lawsuit, the USIC policy issued to the plaintiff and proposed class members purported to provide coverage if the pass holder is “quarantined.” Though the policy fails to define “quarantined,” the term is usually defined as “to isolate from normal relations or communication,” and “a restriction on the movement of people and goods which is intended to prevent the spread of disease or pests.”
“It is often used in connection to disease and illness, preventing the movement of those who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis,” per the complaint.
The case adds that the USIC policy contains no applicable exclusions for viruses, pandemics, related government orders or actions taken by Vail Resorts.
The suit, which seeks an injunction requiring USIC to comply with the terms of its insurance policies, looks to cover anyone who purchased an Epic Pass and USIC pass insurance for the 2019-20 season and was denied coverage for the loss of use of their pass after the resorts closed on March 15, 2020 “due to no fault of their own.”
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