An American court has held that an insurer’s ‘premises pollution liability’ policy only covers environmental pollution and not the COVID-19 outbreak.

Because COVID-19 is a type of virus it does not constitute traditional environmental pollution. The court said that the policy only covers pollutants commonly thought of as environmental pollution.

The insured had argued that COVID-19 causes environmental pollution because government agencies had defined ‘virus’ as containing contaminants, and that there have been judgments holding that pollution exclusions in property policies can preclude COVID-19 cover since the virus is a type of pollutant.

The court said that a virus being considered a ‘contaminant’ or ‘pollutant’ in certain instances does not render a COVID-19 outbreak ‘traditional environmental pollution’.