Urban Outfitters is calling for its insurers to cover any potential losses stemming from allegations the company improperly collected customer zip codes. 

In a set of cross-motions for summary judgment filed last week, the retailer argued the zip code claims filed against it in three class-action lawsuits involve a customer’s right to privacy, bringing them within the personal and advertising provision of its insurance policy, while the insurers disclaimed any responsibility.

Urban Outfitters argues it is covered so long as the claims involve a “right to secrecy,” which it argues is implicated by allegations it disclosed the private information of customers.  But both OneBeacon America Insurance Company and The Hanover Insurance Group argue that no such right is implicated by collecting zip codes.  Customers “can have no secrecy interest in their ZIP Codes,” the Hanover Insurance Group argued.  Similarly, OneBeacon contends that “zip codes and home addresses are not private facts.” 

In September, OneBeacon filed suit seeking a declaration that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Urban Outfitters or its subsidiary Anthropologie Inc. in class action lawsuits filed in California, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.  Those cases center on allegations that Urban Outfitters improperly asked customers for their zip codes during credit card transactions, in violation of California’s Song-Beverly Act and similar laws in other states.

While Song-Beverly only prohibits the collection in certain circumstances of personal identification information, rather than private information, any ruling addressing the privacy implications of zip code collections is likely to be closely watched.   A new crop of cases, including the actions against Urban Outfitters, seek to expand Song-Beverly in the wake of decisions in Massachusetts and California holding that zip codes are personal identification information.