Calgary Flames launch $125 million lawsuit against insurers over ‘massive’ COVID losses

The Calgary Flames organization is suing its insurers for $125 million for “massive losses” the company says it suffered over two hockey seasons because of the pandemic.

On March 12, 2020, the NHL halted the hockey season with subsequent government orders banning fans from the Saddledome. 

“The presence of COVID-19 and the COVID-19 virus in the Saddledome during NHL games made the normal use of the Saddledome impossible for almost two years,” reads the statement of claim filed at the Calgary courthouse earlier this month.

The lawsuit describes Flames fan attendance as the “life-blood” of the organization’s revenue.

One year before the pandemic hit, revenues exceeded $187 million, according to the claim.

Flames bought ‘best-in-class’ policy 

Although it’s unknown what the Flames organization is paying for premiums, the company says it “bought — at significant expense — the best-in-class ‘all risks’ business interruption insurance policy.”

The insurers, say the plaintiffs, have decided “viruses do not cause physical loss or damage.”

But in their claim, the Flames describe the virus as causing “physical changes to the air, surfaces and interior spaces of the Saddledome and other insured properties” rendering those venues “physically unusable.”

To date, the insurers have denied coverage and have not reimbursed the organization for any losses, according to the statement of claim.

The insurance companies named in the lawsuit include Westport Insurance Corp., Royal and Sun Alliance, Liberty Mutual, Aviva, Northbridge and Can-Sure Underwriting. 

None of the allegations detailed in the lawsuit are proven and statements of defence have not yet been filed. 

Infection at Saddledome reached ‘dangerous’ levels

The Flames’ losses began in March 2020.

Infected fans were present and spreading the virus at the Saddledome before the arena closed that month, according to the court document.

Rates of infection at the Saddledome reached “dangerous” levels, the lawsuit states, pointing to five Flames players who contracted the virus over a seven month period in 2020 and 2021.

The Flames organization argues its insurance policy promises to protect the organization against lost revenue if it can not use its arena.

Other Canadian teams launch lawsuit

COVID-19 was “precisely among the perils and risks covered,” the lawsuit alleges.

The ‘all risks policy’ was supposed to cover losses “as a result of a worldwide series of catastrophes like those brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Flames organization is also looking to recoup costs associated with measures implemented for safely reopening like testing, physical barriers and an upgraded HVAC system.

Since March 2020, Alberta has had more than half a million COVID cases with more than 4,000 people dying from the virus.

Last June, 20 NHL teams including five Canadian clubs — Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks — sued their insurance providers for more than $1 billion for pandemic-related losses, according to a TSN report in January.

The Flames and Edmonton Oilers are not part of that suit.

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