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Business Interruption Insurance for Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  April 28, 2020   |  

With thousands of businesses closed due to stay-at-home orders for the COVID-19 / coronavirus outbreak, the financial survival of many small and medium-size businesses is in danger. Many businesses have what is called “business interruption” insurance (typically as part of a business owner’s policy) that covers unexpected costs or loss of revenue associated with a “peril.”

Business Interruption Insurance for Coronavirus - COVID-19Due to losses suffered as a result of COVID-19, many businessowners are wondering, “Can I file a business interruption insurance claim for the coronavirus?”

In this blog post, our business interruption attorneys share the answers to the most common questions from business owners grappling with the coronavirus and considering filing a business interruption insurance claim.

Has your business experienced a loss of revenue associated with the coronavirus? Our business interruption attorneys have been helping hold insurance companies accountable for decades and we would love to help however we can. For a FREE consultation with an experienced business interruption lawyer, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the short form below.

Business Interruption Insurance for COVID-19 / Coronavirus: FAQs

How do I know if I have business interruption coverage on my policy?

Generally, business interruption insurance is included in standard coverage in commercial property insurance or business owner’s insurance policies. Most policies are “at risk” policies. This means that unless specifically excluded in your policy, the claim — such as one for business stoppage or losses associated with the coronavirus — may be covered. If you decide to consult with our business interruption attorneys, please provide our office with a copy of your complete policy so our attorneys can verify your applicable coverage.

IMPORTANT: Some businesses have business interruption coverage and don’t even know it.  Do NOT count on your insurance company to voluntarily tell you that you have it. Coronavirus business interruption claims will likely cost insurance companies millions of dollars and they are not incentivized to help you with your claim.

A business interruption attorney at Riddle & Brantley can review your policy and help hold your insurance company accountable.

What if I have contacted my insurance agent and have been told that my business interruption claim for coronavirus is not covered?

Coronavirus Business Interruption Claim - Riddle & BrantleyDenials are to be expected, especially in business interruption claims stemming from the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. Do NOT let this deter you from making a formal claim for coronavirus-related business interruption compensation.

If you decide to file a coronavirus business interruption claim, first you must send written notice of a claim under your policy to your agent. This sets up a requirement that the business owner’s insurance carrier send you a written reason for their denial which is important going forward. Once your denial is received, you should contact our business interruption lawyers for a free case evaluation.

There are duties on the business owner and the insurance carrier, so you should seek legal advice to protect your interests. This is particularly important for business interruption claims associated with the coronavirus, as insurance companies are anticipating thousands of claims and will be unlikely to initially approve many.

Will a business interruption attorney be able to help me recover coronavirus-related losses under my business interruption policy?

A clear answer to that question is difficult. We anticipate the insurance industry is going to fight these coronavirus business interruption cases aggressively. Only a full review of your policy and suffered losses will allow us to address your individual coverage and collectability.

The insurance company may take the position that “an act of God” clause in your policy excluded all coverage for your situation. The real answer depends on the language and interpretation. Litigation will most likely be required as we anticipate the insurance industry will not voluntarily pay these claims without filing suit.

I’m ready to talk with an attorney. What information will I need in addition to my insurance policy in order to file a COVID-19 business interruption claim?

A Riddle & Brantley business interruption lawyer can help evaluate your claim, or determine your best legal options in the event your claim is denied.

Here are the documents we’ll need in order to start evaluating your claim and mapping out your legal options:

  1. We will need a copy of the written claim sent to your carrier.
  2. We will need a copy of their written response or denial.
  3. We will need documents proving your financial losses related to COVID-19.

Prepare your detailed financial records showing your total losses to date. This documentation should include two years prior financial records that show your net income and a listing of your monthly expenses. This will be used to prove your current losses. Past Profit and Loss (P&L) statements showing average income and current P&L statements showing current and ongoing losses are also very useful if you have them. You should also be prepared to provide us with prior tax returns with all schedules and attachments thereto for three years prior to the beginning of your financial losses.

Can I file a claim before my business is allowed to reopen?

Business Interruption Claim for Coronavirus - Riddle & BrantleyYes. Actually, we encourage you to file a claim as soon as possible. You should start this process by contacting your agent who sold you the policy. This gives notice of the claim to your carrier and forces the carrier to provide their coverage position in writing which will most likely will be a denial. It also preserves your claims back to the beginning date of your losses.

IMPORTANT: If your business remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, don’t wait to file a claim. Our COVID-19 business interruption insurance attorneys are ready to help you get the process started.

How much of my losses can I recoup should my coronavirus business interruption claim be successful?

This depends on the language in your policy. You may have several areas of business interruption coverage available to you that are triggered by different events and governmental actions (such as business closures forced by the government due to the coronavirus). Coverage will be determined on a case by case basis.

Depending on your policy, you may be able to recoup for various business losses associated with the coronavirus, including:

  • loss of business profits
  • operating expenses (rent, payroll, etc.)
  • deep cleaning of the premises

An experienced business interruption lawyer can help you evaluate your claim and determine what compensation may be available to you for COVID-19-related losses and expenses.

I have a virus exclusion in my policy. Can I still make a coronavirus-related claim?

IMPORTANT: We believe there are ways to contest exclusions, including any virus exclusion in your business interruption insurance coverage.

One exclusion to coverage may be the “Act of God” exclusion which basically means that there is no coverage for acts of God or force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances and unavoidable catastrophes that result in “no coverage). In other words, there is no coverage for events that are outside the reasonable control of parties.

However, there may be other language in your policy which provides coverage when interpreted together with any exclusions. While this coronavirus-related issue will be aggressively litigated by the insurance companies, we recommend you proceed with making a business interruption claim for COVID-19.

Our North Carolina business interruption attorneys are available to help with your potential COVID-19 claim right away. Please call 1-800-525-7111 for a FREE, no-obligation consultation.

This litigation may take months or years to resolve. Is it worth my effort to file a claim?

Yes. While these will be hard-fought cases, we believe that when you purchase commercial/business insurance, you have a reasonable expectation that your carrier will be there when you need coverage. They benefit from years of policy premium payments and the insurance companies should not get away with off-the-cuff denials to avoid their responsibility to business owners.

Has your business suffered financial losses or added expenses due to COVID-19?

Business Interruption Attorneys for COVID-19 in North CarolinaIf you have a business owner’s policy with business interruption coverage, you may be eligible for compensation for coronavirus-related losses and expenses.

Don’t gamble with your potential claim. A Riddle & Brantley coronavirus business interruption lawyer can help you contest a denial and get you the payment you need and deserve.

For a FREE consultation with a North Carolina business interruption insurance lawyer, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the short form below.

There is no obligation, no upfront cost, and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we win your case and you receive business interruption payments from the insurance company.

Call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.

We believe Justice Counts for business owners affected by the coronavirus pandemic and we would love to help you and your business however we can.