An Australian gambling and entertainment heavyweight has taken its insurer to court for allegedly denying indemnity for losses suffered during the coronavirus pandemic in what could be a test case.
Star Entertainment Group, a company listed in the ASX top 200 which owns and runs casinos and hotels in NSW and Queensland, has filed an application in the Federal Court against Chubb Insurance.
Star, court documents seen by AAP reveal, claims lockdown restrictions have and continue to interrupt or interfere with its business, in what looms as a test case for insurance covering virus-related losses.
“The Star has and continues to suffer economic loss, including a reduction in turnover and gross revenue, and an increased cost of working,” it said in a concise statement filed in the Federal Court on August 21.
Star says it lost the ability to access or use its premises to conduct its normal business due to entry restrictions, as well as the fact it could not undertake certain activities, open certain businesses, or access its premises for certain purposes.
The Star has not yet quantified its claim, but argues it is entitled to indemnity in respect of the economic loss under its policy with Chubb.
It says the policy insures Star against certain “special risks”, including “risks of business interruption” from 4pm on November 1, 2019 for one year.
In Star’s statement to the Federal Court, it says that Chubb on May 5 stated that the claim was “untenable” and “not covered under the policy”.
Star on May 8 pressed the company’s claim, set out why Chubb’s denial of indemnity was “wrongful” and requested that the insurers appoint a loss assessor.
The statement says Chubb formally declined indemnity on May 27.
The two parties made their first appearance at the Federal Court on Tuesday before Chief Justice James Allsop in Sydney.
Chief Justice Allsop ordered that Chubb, by September 22, file and serve a concise statement in response to Star, including a “clear and complete” identification of the basis for the denial of the claim.
The matter has been stood over for further case management on a date to be fixed.
When contacted by AAP, a spokesman for Star said he could not provide a ball-park figure for the total losses involved in the claim.