Some businesses slowly reopening after temporarily shuttering due to government orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus have been hit with a one-two punch after suffering damage or closures from violent protests in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. These businesses are wondering if their insurers will finally give them a helping hand.
Many small and mid-sized businesses across the country, like restaurants, bars, retails stores, and boutique hotels, had to close their doors or dramatically reduce their operations during the shutdown. They filed business interruption claims with their insurance companies looking for coverage, but were told their claims were not covered.
Business interruption insurance is a part of a business owner’s policy. It provides coverage for payroll, bills and other operating expenses in the event a business has to temporarily close due to a disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado. Some insurance companies have virus or pandemic exemptions in their contracts specially stating they won’t provide coverage in those situations. But many insurers are rejecting claims without such clauses in their contracts.
On the flip side, businesses forced to close or limit hours due to rioting, vandalism, or civil commotion may be able file a claim against their business interruption insurance and actually get coverage, according to Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute.
The damages of rioting in multiple cities across the country could ring into the billions of dollars, Reinsurance News warns. And this could increase the likelihood that insurance companies may try to back out on covering businesses for these damages as well.
Many small business owners are fighting back and filing lawsuits against their insurance companies for coverage they believe they are entitled to. Beasley Allen is actively pursuing cases with clients whose insurance companies denied their business interruption claims. Dee Miles, Head of our Consumer Fraud Section, Rachel Boyd and Paul Evans are spearheading this litigation for our firm. They would like to talk to you about any potential claims.