Judge rules in favor of hotel group in insurance dispute

CONCORD, N.H. — A judge has ruled in favor of a group of hotels whose owners sued their insurance carriers over lost business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Businessman Mark Stebbins of Schleicher & Stebbins Hotels, LLC, one of the plaintiffs, said the pandemic caused tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue for about two dozen hotels in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The group had paid for $600 million in insurance. In April 2020, it filed an insurance claim to cover COVID-19-related losses. The insurance companies questioned “direct physical loss of or damage” to property and said the hotels didn’t provide enough details. The hotel owners said they hosted infected guests and staff. They sued the insurance companies; both sides asked for a court ruling.

“The court is satisfied that any requirement under the policies of ‘loss or damage’ or ‘direct physical loss of or damage to property’ is met where property is contaminated” by the COVID-19 virus, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger ruled on Tuesday.