COVID Delayed Filming of ‘The Morning Show’ and Producers Want Their Insurer to Pay Up

The Apple TV+ show lost big bucks during the pandemic, but its insurance company claims it’s not on the hook
167

Apple TV+ drama The Morning Show is embroiled in some real-life drama of its own. Producers have filed a $44 million lawsuit against their insurer, Chubb National Insurance Company, for financial losses incurred by a pandemic delay in filming. The suit claims that Chubb has refused to pay the coverage that plaintiff Always Smiling Productions is entitled to for all costs related to the disruption of production.

The Morning Show, which stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston as cohosts of a news program that becomes mired in a #MeToo scandal, got mixed reviews from critics, but was renewed for a second season a week after its debut and began filming in November 2019. Production was abruptly halted in March 2020 as COVID-19 emerged.

According to the lawsuit, Always Smiling notified Chubb in early March 2020 that they would be shutting down production of season two, and, over the next few months, Always Smiling regularly updated Chubb on losses incurred. In September 2020, Always Smiling then sent a statement to Chubb requesting coverage.

“We continue to incur losses and expenses, including mitigation expenses to prevent and/or reduce the risk of declared persons contracting COVID-19,” the statement reads. “We believe that these losses and expenses are insured under our policy.”

Chubb denied the claims. According to Always Smiling, Chubb claimed the presence of COVID-19 did not pose a “direct physical loss or damage” to the set and that locations were not negatively impacted by the possible presence of COVID-19. Chubb then said that only costs incurred by an action of civil or military authority would be entitled to coverage.

The lawsuit alleges that Chubb “acted in bad faith” and that its “wrongful conduct” ultimately “breached its duty” as insurer. In other words, the suit claims, Chubb not only violated the terms of its contract with Always Smiling, but also directly contributed to the $44M in financial damages by refusing to comply with Always Smiling’s demands.

“Always Smiling is therefore entitled to recover punitive damages from Chubb in an amount sufficient to punish Chubb and to deter similar conduct in the future,” the lawsuit states.

As The Hollywood Reporter points out, courts have sided overwhelmingly with insurers in COVID-related cases. Complications notwithstanding, the show recently resumed filming, and its second season is set to be released on September 17 on Apple TV+.


Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.