The Chicago Tribune headline in the business section on April 19, 2020 decried “WITH OUTBREAK COMES OUTRAGE” as business owners may expect insurance to cover their losses. Often, they are in for a shock.
Businesses who purchased comprehensive property insurance policies, which they believed would cover them for unexpected business losses and interruptions outside of their control, are learning their insurance companies disagree. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a staggering contingent of business owners in the Chicagoland area and across the country who are having their valid claims for business interruption and lost revenues summarily denied by their insurers.
Business interruption insurance, which may also be known as business income insurance, is often part of commercial property insurance coverage. Such insurance may cover business owners or tenants for their loss of income due to suspension of operations, or property owners and landlords due to loss of rental income from the loss of use of a rented space. What may be covered under a policy depends on the type of business insured. As a result, a detailed review of your complete insurance policy, including all declarations, forms, endorsements, exclusions, and amendments is necessary, to determine your coverage and rights under the policy. In the setting of this pandemic, the “business income and extra expense” coverage is particularly important to the survival of a business.
Today’s environment is confronting business owners with financially ruinous circumstances when they reasonably believed they have insurance for the unforeseen risk of COVID-19. The key question which will determine your path to recovering substantial business losses may hinge on whether the coronavirus outbreak and the state-mandated business closures constitute “property damage and physical loss of use” necessary to trigger coverage. If it is determined the policy provides coverage for business income losses, and there is no exclusion for a “virus,” then there may well be coverage for the loss. As well, if there is an ambiguity in the policy of insurance between the part of the policy granting coverage and the language attempting to exclude coverage, then the policy of insurance will be construed against the insurer and in favor of the insured business.
It is imperative for a business to promptly file a claim for its loss with its insurance company, to document its claim (including past and continuing losses), and to retain any denial issued by the insurer. Taking these steps is important for the evaluation of these claims.
McCallister Law Group has years of extensive experience in representing business owners who have suffered loss as a result of insurance companies denying meritorious claims. We are here to consult with you and to provide advice as to whether the losses your businesses are suffering may potentially be recovered under the insurance policies you have purchased to protect against those losses. We are not paid for our representation of you unless you prevail in the recovery of your business losses.
Contact us today to speak with an attorney.