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UTA sues insurers over pandemic cover, reveals COVID-caused losses of $150 million

By | Published on Tuesday 17 November 2020


Talent agency UTA has sued its insurers over their refusal to compensate the firm for losses caused by the COVID-19 shutdown. Like most booking and talent agencies, UTA has faced huge challenges as a result of the pandemic. It reckons its insurance policies with Vigilant and Federal cover some of its COVID-related losses, but the insurers do not agree.

After a run through UTA’s commercial property and business interruption insurance policies, and then a lengthy summary of the impact COVID-19 has had on the entertainment industry, the agency’s lawsuit – filed with a court in LA – states: “There is no merit to Vigilant and Federal’s position that their policies do not insure the losses that UTA has suffered and is suffering”.

It goes on: “Vigilant and Federal have known for decades that the phrase ‘direct physical loss or damage to property’ extends to damage or loss caused by the presence of a hazardous substance in the airspace inside a building or on property, and losses that result when the use or function of property is substantially impaired, even if the property has not been physically altered”.

The agency also takes issue with the process the insurers went through in making a decision about its claim. “Worse yet”, the lawsuit says, “Vigilant and Federal predetermined their coverage decisions for business interruption claims relating to COVID-19, and subsequent events in March, without any investigation into their insureds’ claims”.

As well as UTA’s legal arguments regarding its insurance dispute the lawsuit also sets out just how big an impact the pandemic has had on the business.

It reveals: “At least thirteen UTA employees, five spouses, and some of their dependents have tested positive for COVID-19. As a result of the presence of [COVID-19] and the [resulting] closure orders, UTA suffered losses from cancelled live events – including cancelled tours by Guns N Roses, Post Malone, Toby Keith, Pitbull, Burna Boy, Monsta X and 3 Doors Down – and cancelled television and motion picture production”.

As for the financial impact of all that, it states: “UTA currently estimates that its financial losses, including lost profits, lost commissions, and lost business opportunities, approximate $150 million, and are continuing”.