The Calgary Flames organization is suing its insurers for $125 million for “massive losses” the company says it suffered over two hockey seasons due to 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 rendered normal use of the Saddledome impossible for nearly two years,” reads the statement filed at the courthouse in Calgary earlier this month.
The lawsuit describes Flames fan involvement as the “lifeblood” of the organization’s revenue.
A year before the pandemic hit, revenue topped $187 million, the claim said.
Flames bought the ‘best-in-class’ policy
While it’s unclear what the Flames organization pays for premiums, the company claims that it “purchased – at great expense – the best ‘all risk’ business interruption insurance policy” .
The insurers, say the plaintiffs, decided that “viruses do not cause physical loss or damage”.
But in their statement, the Flames describe the virus as causing “physical changes to the air, surfaces and interior spaces of the Saddledome and other assured properties”, rendering these places “physically unusable”.
To date, insurers have refused coverage and have not reimbursed any losses to the organization, according to the statement.
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 defense have not yet been filed.
Saddledome infection has 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.
Infection rates at the Saddledome have reached “dangerous” levels, the lawsuit says, naming five Flames players who contracted the virus over a seven-month period in 2020 and 2021.
The Flames organization argues that its insurance policy promises to protect the organization against loss of revenue if it cannot use its arena.
Other Canadian teams launch pursuit
COVID-19 was “precisely among the perils and risks covered,” the lawsuit alleges.
The “all-risks policy” was meant to cover losses “resulting from a global series of disasters such as those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The Flames organization is also seeking to recover costs associated with measures implemented for a safe reopening, such as testing, physical barriers and an improved HVAC system.
Since March 2020, Alberta has had over half a million cases of COVID and over 4,000 people have died from the virus.
Last June, 20 NHL teams, including five Canadian clubs – the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks – sued their insurers for over $1 billion for pandemic-related losses, according to a TSN report in January.
The Flames and Edmonton Oilers are not part of this lawsuit.