Insurance Claims for Business Interruption Caused by COVID-19
Written By: Attorney Rian Butler
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Many business owners and managers are asking whether they can pursue a business interruption claim against their commercial property insurance or CGL policy for losses from partial slowdowns or complete shutdowns due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Government-mandated orders to shelter-in-place or stay-at-home, as well as customers independently choosing to stay home even without such orders, have caused businesses profound and unexpected losses in revenue and profits. Commercial insurance could provide for reimbursement of lost revenue or operating expenses incurred because of Coronavirus disruptions.
Commercial property and CGL policies are rarely uniform and can include a variety of exclusions and riders. Zinda Law Group offers free consultations to discuss compensation that businesses may be entitled to under their insurance coverage. Call (800) 863-5312 to speak to a lawyer today.
Does a business that has suffered losses because of the impact from COVID-19 have a viable claim under their business interruption coverage?
Each business’s rights will depend on the language in their relevant insurance policy. Some policies with business interruption coverage include clauses requiring actual physical damage to property to trigger coverage. Some policies will not consider losses stemming from viruses or disease, such as the Coronavirus. An insurance policy may require a business to take certain affirmative steps to control losses.
Some policies, however, may provide coverage where losses arise out of orders to slow or cease operations by a local, state, or federal government.
Other policies may have specific riders (a clause that adds benefits or coverage in certain circumstances) that may provide coverage not otherwise included on a policy
Every business should review its commercial policies, and potential claims, based on their specific policy language and state-specific case law.
How to File a Claim for Business Interruption Coverage
Again, a business’ rights and obligations can be substantially affected by the specific language in their policy. State laws can also add other requirements, such as a particular type of notice to your insurance company, or notice within a certain time frame, before you are can file a lawsuit.
Your policy and state laws might also require specific documentation be provided to your insurance company before the carrier is required to evaluate your claim. Be prepared to provide documents such as:
- profit and loss statements (for the current year as well as prior years);
- balance sheets, or other proof of lost inventory, if any;
- state, local, and federal tax returns, if available;
This is in no way a complete list – your particular circumstances, your insurance policy, and relevant state law will determine the full extent of necessary documentation. The outcome of insurance claims can come down to the documentation supporting a business’ claimed losses.
If your insurance company denies all or a portion of your claim for losses, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit (or alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and/or arbitration) for your claimed losses. In some instances, you may be able to recover attorney fees and other costs associated with pursuing a wrongly denied claim.
How Zinda Law Group Handles First Party Insurance Disputes
Our attorneys battle with insurance companies and their lawyers every day in search of fair compensation for our clients. In a first-party insurance claim, companies are making a claim against their own policy (as opposed to a third-party claim, which is against another person’s or business’ insurance policy for harm caused by that person or business). At Zinda Law Group, we may inundate the insurance carrier and its adjusters with information and documentation supporting the claimed losses, providing the carrier with every opportunity to fairly evaluate a claim.
If we believe an insurance company has wrongly denied coverage or underpaid a claim, we may have to file a lawsuit. Other times, contracts require pursuing claims in arbitration instead of court. We also have experience in arbitrating claims when that is the required avenue for recovery.
Do I Need a Lawyer To File My Claim?
While many businesses consider a lawyer a necessity only in the context of a lawsuit, having a lawyer on your side in initial evaluation stages can also be a benefit. During the early stages of an insurance claim, carriers can seek detailed information from claimants, including written statements or recorded conversations. Insurance adjusters conduct these conversations as a normal part of their job; insurance companies spend considerable resources in designing and refining scripts to lock in their insured’s statements early on in a framework that often times can be out of context or otherwise not in the insuxred’s best interest. While the insurance company is building its case to fight your claim, consider whether you want someone in your business’ corner for the entirety of the process.
If it comes down to filing a lawsuit or arbitration against an insurance company, consider the pros of having your own lawyer, representing your interests, to go up against the lawyers hired by your insurance company to fight your claim.
TRUST THE LAWYERS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced attorneys have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you build the strongest case possible and to seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
Before pursuing a business interruption claim directly, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our attorneys to discuss how we may be able to help you and your business.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.