New York Restaurants Sue Insurers for Inflated Workers’ Compensation Premiums

By on March 29, 2017

On March 9, 2017, restaurants filed a class action on behalf of restaurant operators alleging they were overcharged by their insurance companies for workers compensation insurance.

The case was filed in New York state court in Manhattan on behalf of three restaurant groups and a putative class of food service businesses that filed quarterly reports on New York State Quarterly Combined Withholding, Wage Reporting And Unemployment Insurance Return (NYS 45-01).

Defendants in the case are insurance companies Utica National Insurance Company of Ohio, Paramount Insurance Company and Security National Insurance Company, which sold workers comp insurance to plaintiffs and other class members.

Many restaurants provide their employees with meals as a convenience for a charge. The complaint alleges that the insurance companies inflated the workers’ compensation insurance premiums by improperly including as “remuneration” the cost of meals paid by employees to the employers.

According to the insurance policies, workers’ compensation insurance premiums is based on the amount of remuneration to employees. However, the meal charges which were included by the insurance companies as remuneration does not meet any definition of remuneration, because the meal charges are payments by the employees to the employer.

According to the complaint, this interpretation and application of the insurance policy inflated the remuneration and the premiums paid by restaurants for workers’ compensation insurance.

The complaint alleges breaches of the insurance agreement, and unjust enrichment, and hopes to compensate restaurants for their overpayments and to force insurance companies to calculate the premium correctly.

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