At the upcoming annual meeting of the National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), the organization will begin discussing the development of an NCOIL Business Liability Protection Model Act, it said. The model will be sponsored by Kentucky state representative Bart Rowland, chair of the NCOIL Property & Casualty Insurance Committee, and co-sponsored by Indiana state representative Matt Lehman, NCOIL president. The meeting will take place in Tampa from December 09-12.
The model legislation would give businesses a measure of immunity from COVID-19-related lawsuits.
The model will be placed before the Property & Casualty Insurance Committee, and introductory draft language will be included in the 30-day materials for the annual meeting, which will be distributed and posted on NCOIL’s website on November 10, the organization said.
“I am proud to sponsor this model for states to consider,” Rowland said. “Unfortunately, the country will be living with this virus for quite some time. However, conscientious businesses still must be able to function in this era of our ‘new normal’ without the cloud of potential litigation hanging over their heads. Of course, if a business acts in a reckless or willful manner, liability can attach, but the businesses who want to reopen in a safe manner should be provided with a certain level of immunity from COVID-related lawsuits.”
Several states have already adopted state legislation providing businesses with some limited civil liability immunity from lawsuits related to the contraction of COVID-19 on the businesses’ premises, NCOIL said.
“I applaud Representative Rowland for introducing this measure, and I am proud to serve as co-sponsor,” Lehman said. “The economy simply cannot function if businesses can’t get back to the everyday service of providing a product or service to consumers. Having a law in place that would provide a certain level of immunity to responsible businesses will encourage them to reopen and protect them and their insurers from any unnecessary litigation.”
“We at NCOIL are proud to continue developing model legislation to offer assistance to states as they adapt during these challenging times,” said Tom Considine, CEO of NCOIL. “With this model, we’re really trying to prevent frivolous lawsuits against businesses that operate using the proper standard of care, and avoid insurance policies having to pay for something that ultimately could be impossible for a litigant to prove in certain instances. We’ll take a look at the legislation that has already been enacted in several states and go from there.”