An Ohio restaurant owner filed a class action lawsuit in state court against insurance companies for refusing to cover business interruption insurance claims related to the government-mandated shutdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Cleveland Scene reported.
Business interruption insurance, also known as business income insurance, is a part of business owners insurance policy. It is designed to cover payroll and other operational expenses in the event of a disaster that causes the business to temporarily close. Disasters commonly covered by these plans include fires, hurricanes and burst pipes. But what many don’t specify is closure due to pandemics.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was one of the first governors in the country to take action to stop the spread of COVID-19, declaring a state of emergency on March 9 with only three reported cases. On March 15, Gov. DeWine and Ohio Department of Health director Amy Action ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants. The shutdown has crippled business such as restaurants, bars, and retail stores in Ohio, as well as across the country.
Some business interruption insurance policies have virus-exclusions clauses that specifically state that closures due to viruses such as Ebola and SARS are not covered. But many policies do not make these exceptions but are still denying claims from businesses. But businesses across the country are fighting back and filing lawsuits against their insurers.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives showed their support for these businesses by urging the CEOs of four major insurance trade organizations to cover the claims. The CEOs refused. Some states, including Ohio, have introduced legislation designed to alter the terms of insurance contracts to require insurance companies to help businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Attorneys with Beasley Allen Law Firm are actively pursuing these cases already with our clients who received a denial communication from their insurance companies. 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.