Lindenwood sues insurance company for losses during COVID-19 pandemic


Lindenwood University entrance off of First Capitol Drive.
Photo by Kelby Lorenz

Alexis Montgomery, Editor-in-Chief

Lindenwood is suing Zurich American Insurance Company for coverage of losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including an excess of $5,000,000 to students related to room and board refunds. 

Lindenwood filed a class action lawsuit, where the school is suing “individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated institutions of higher education.” The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court Eastern District of Missouri on Oct. 16. 

The university purchased an all-risk commercial property insurance policy from Zurich American Insurance Company, an Illinois corporation in Schaumburg, Ill. The policy provides $100,000,000 in coverage for losses, including loss of use of property, business interruption, and property damage, according to the lawsuit. 

According to the lawsuit, Lindenwood made a claim for coverage under the policy, but the claim for coverage was denied due to Zurich American stating COVID-19 cannot cause physical loss of or damage to property within the meaning of the policy. The policy also contains a “contamination” exclusion that applies and defeats any COVID-19 related coverage claim.

The university paid the premiums of the insurance policy before the coverage claim was denied.

“To protect itself against risks like COVID-19, Plaintiff purchased the Policy from Defendant. The Policy was in effect at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak,” the suit reads. “Plaintiff paid all premiums required by the Policy.”

The lawsuit states the different categories that the university suffered losses from due to not being able to operate normally. Lindenwood claims it lost revenue with tuition income, fundraising income, room and board fees, co-curricular activities, college retail outlets, and from special events and rentals.

The lawsuit states that Lindenwood is not the only university facing denials for insurance claims. 

“Defendant’s denial of Plaintiff’s claim for coverage is not unique. Based on other lawsuits and other publicly available information, it appears that Defendant is taking a consistent position with other insureds – including other higher education institutions – across the country,” the suit reads.

The lawsuit also states that Lindenwood’s campus was deemed “unsuitable” during the pandemic.

“Plaintiff’s insured property has been rendered unsuitable for its intended use and has been subject to a variety of limitations, restrictions, and prohibitions, including by government Stay at Home Orders imposed by the State of Missouri; the State of Illinois; Saint Charles County, Missouri; St. Clair County, Illinois; Saint Charles, Missouri; and Belleville, Illinois,” the suit read.

“Plaintiff also imposed limitations, restrictions, and prohibitions due to the dangerous condition caused by the presence of COVID-19 and its on-going and continuous threat to Plaintiff’s insured property.”

Requests for comment from attorneys for the university were left through email.