Insurance firm Zurich American has asked a New York court to rule that it has no liability to cover defence costs in the mounting legal claims filed against Sony following April's PSN attack.
Reuters reports that the insurer has asked the court to declare that it does not have to pay legal costs related to claims "asserted in the class-action lawsuits, miscellaneous claims, or potential future actions institued by any state attorney general."
Zurich American named fellow insurers Zurich Financial Services, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, AIG and ACE in its filing, as it seeks to clarify whether they, too, face liability for associated legal costs. Richard Bortnick, of legal firm Cozen O'Connor, said: "Zurich doesn't think there's coverage, but to the extent there may be a duty to defend it wants to make sure all of the insurers with a potential duty to defend are contributing."
While three class-action suits – in Alabama, San Diego and Canada – were filed in the weeks following the attack, Zurich claims in court documents that Sony is facing 55 separate lawsuits over the PSN affair. The insurer argues that Sony's general liability policy only covers "bodily injury, property damage or personal and advertising injury," but that has not stopped Sony trying to claim legal costs.
The news raises fundamental questions over the suitability of general business liability insurance in an age where cyber-attacks are increasingly common. With Sony the highest-profile of several major firms whose online services have been compromised by hackers this year, Zurich may be seeking to set a legal precedent to indemnify itself against future claims.
PSN was hacked in April, with the total number of users whose personal details were stolen passing 100 million after an attack on Sony Online Entertainment was belatedly identified. It took more than seven weeks for the full service to be restored in the west, and eleven weeks before it was back online in Japan.