It’s no secret that many businesses have suffered severe financial losses due to coronavirus related restrictions. Some of the hardest hit have been the restaurant and hospitality sectors, along with other “cash flow” type businesses.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that business interruption insurance, carried against unforeseen losses, isn’t providing any relief. Insurers claim that these policies only protect against losses resulting from physical damage to property or the surrounding area, like a fire or natural disaster, leaving business owners with nowhere to turn.
That is, until now.
A growing number of high-profile lawsuits against insurers, combined with proposed legislation, may mean hope is on the horizon. Among those filing suit and pushing back against denial of their claims are notable restaurateurs Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck, and Roger Berkowitz, President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods. If decided in their favor, these cases would set a precedent requiring insurance companies to cover losses resulting from coronavirus, even where policies did not include a pandemic exclusion.
Key to the Legal Sea Foods case and others like it is that their policy did not include one of these pandemic exclusions. Their legal counsel argues that this would lead a reasonable and prudent business owner to conclude that such a policy would cover coronavirus related financial losses. Furthermore, it is believed that insurers had more than ample time to include such an exclusion clause, since it has been a standard practice in the industry for 17 years.
Business owners are also making their influence felt in other ways. Lobbying and advocacy groups are forming at the local and national levels to address relief measures.
Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck are both founding members of Business Interruption Group, a national nonprofit that advocates in favor of businesses filing interruption claims.
In Massachusetts, Mass Restaurants United, a network of area restaurants, has made business interruption insurance issues one of its chief concerns. The group has endorsed the Legal Sea Foods lawsuit and supports proposed legislation on Beacon Hill that would require insurers to cover losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Business owners also appear to have support at the Federal level. Recently, the Trump administration has voiced their support, saying that they believe the insurance companies should cover losses related to coronavirus where policies did not contain a pandemic exclusion. President Trump has also named Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck to his newly formed council for economic revival efforts. Speaking about those whose claims have been denied, he said: “When they finally need it, the insurance companies say they are not going to give it. We cannot let that happen.”
With the increasing likelihood that insurers will soon be required to cover coronavirus related losses, the most important step any business owner can take towards complete financial recovery is to ensure they file a comprehensive claim. If you need assistance, our experienced public adjusters are standing by to look out for your interests and get you back in business.
Have questions about your property insurance claim? Feel free to contact Stark Loss for more information about how a Public Adjuster can help.