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Kanye West sues insurers over payments due on cancelled ‘St Pablo’ tour

By | Published on Wednesday 2 August 2017

Kanye West

Kanye West is suing a number of Lloyd’s Of London insurers over insurance claims made in relation to his cancelled ‘St Pablo’ tour.

As previously reported, West abandoned his US tour last November after erratic behaviour at a couple of his shows, including a ten minute rant that took aim at Hillary Clinton, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Drake and Mark Zuckerberg, among others. He was subsequently admitted to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital Center, with one news agency stating at the time that “the decision to hospitalise West was for his own health and safety”.

The new lawsuit against the insurers of the ‘St Pablo’ tour confirms that doctors advised West to cancel his shows in order to receive treatment following a psychological breakdown. The rapper and his company Very Good Touring Inc then claimed on the insurance policies that had been taken out for the tour citing this medical guidance but – seemingly – the insurers have so far not paid up. Instead, West’s lawyers argue, they have been employing tactics designed to find an excuse not to pay out.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the legal papers claim that insurers have not “provided anything approaching a coherent explanation about why they have not paid or any indication if they will ever pay”. The lawsuit goes on to claim that this “stalling is emblematic of a broader modus operandi of the insurers of never-ending post-claim underwriting where the insurers hunt for some contrived excuse not to pay”.

Amongst other things the insurers have seemingly been questioning is whether or not West’s medical condition did indeed necessitate the cancellation of the tour.

The lawsuit says: “While Kanye was still under medical care for his disabling condition, the defendant [insurers] demanded that Kanye submit to an immediate IME [independent medical examination]. Kanye was made available for a purported IME by a doctor, hand-selected by the insurers’ counsel, who was predisposed to look for some reason to deny the claim. Yet even defendants’ selected doctor had to admit that Kanye was disabled from being able to continue with the tour”.

West’s lawyers argue that the insurers’ conduct from the start suggested that, rather than simply assessing the merits of the claim in relation to the cancelled tour, they were looking for a get out.

The legal papers go on: “Almost immediately after the claim was submitted, defendants selected legal counsel to oversee the adjustment of the claim, instead of the more normal approach of retaining a non-lawyer insurance adjuster. Immediately turning to legal counsel made it clear that defendants’ goal was to hunt for any ostensible excuse, no matter how fanciful, to deny coverage or to manoeuvre themselves into a position of trying to negotiate a discount on the loss payment”.

Entertainment industry lawyer Howard King, representing West, reckons this case puts the spotlight on more general misconduct in certain parts of the insurance sector.

He is quoted by The Hollywood Reporter as saying: “Performing artists who pay handsomely to insurance companies within the Lloyd’s Of London marketplace to obtain show tour ‘non-appearance or cancellation’ insurance should take note of the lesson to be learned from this lawsuit: Lloyd’s companies enjoy collecting bounteous premiums; they don’t enjoy paying claims, no matter how legitimate”.

He goes on: “Their business model thrives on conducting unending ‘investigations’ of bona fide coverage requests, stalling interminably, running up their insured’s costs, and avoiding coverage decisions based on flimsy excuses. The artists think they they’re buying peace of mind. The insurers know they’re just selling a ticket to the courthouse”.

West’s lawsuit seeks to force a resolution on the insurance claim, while accusing the Lloyd’s Of London insurers of breach of contract and breach of good faith. The insurers are yet to respond to the litigation.