A class action lawsuit against a travel insurance company was filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, seeking reimbursement for money paid for a school trip canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Corrigan v. EF Education Tours, Inc., et al, Amy Corrigan alleges that in October 2019 she enrolled her daughter, an 8th grader, in a school trip to Spain that was scheduled for April 2020. She paid in full over $4,000 for the trip, which was coordinated by EF Education Tours and related organizations.
In November 2019, Corrigan purchased travel insurance marketed by EF and apparently written by United States Fire Insurance Company (USFIC). The coverage included reimbursement of trip costs if the student was prevented from traveling because she was “quarantined.” According to the complaint “quarantined” was not defined by the policy.
On March 12, 2020, EF announced that it was postponing all tours scheduled for April because of the coronavirus pandemic. As we know, later that month the Massachusetts governor issued an executive order restricting public movement of non-essential personnel and banning gatherings of ten or more people. He subsequently closed all public schools through the end of the school year. On March 31, 2020, the United States Department of State advised US citizens to avoid all international travel due to the pandemic.
Corrigan sought reimbursement from USFIC for the funds she had paid for the trip. USFIC denied the claim, stating that trip cancellation due to the state quarantine and the threat of COVID-19 did not come within the coverages of the policy.
Corrigan’s class action complaint alleges breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, and conversion.
This lawsuit is at the very beginning stages. I expect to see many similar suits filed against trip insurers, summer camp insurers, and the like. But I do note that if Corrigan’s allegations are correct, her policy differs from others that I have seen that do in fact provide a definition of “quarantined.” In insurance coverage disputes, it is (almost always) the terms of the specific policy that will control the outcome.