Congress has stepped up to provide relief for small businesses across the country, but in many, if not in most cases the government relief is going to be woefully inadequate to compensate businesses for their CoVid-19 related losses.
However, many stricken small businesses may be able to find additional relief through their own insurance policies.
According to Natchitoches Attorney Eddie Harrington of The Harrington Law Firm, small business owners need to check their insurance policy to see if there is any “business interruption” or “loss of profits” coverage or any explicit exclusions from that type coverage.
Harrington says his firm has already reviewed several business insurance policies and have found that the coverage and exclusions differ wildly from policy to policy and insurance company to insurance company.
“You might think that there would be a ‘standard’ policy that all companies would use, but that is simply not the case,” said Harrington. “We were actually a bit surprised to see how many variations there are in the types of coverage and exclusions.”
Harrington said that there are several things to look for in a policy regarding coverage provided for these type of losses:
1. Does the policy specifically provide coverage for business interruption and/or loss of profits? Some policies lay this out with specificity, which can be beneficial to small business owners.
2. Some policies are silent as to business interruption and/or loss of profits coverage. Just because this coverage is not specifically laid out does not necessarily mean that these losses are not covered, according to Harrington.
3. Some policies contain exclusions for virus related losses. While at first blush this might appear to disqualify a business for making a CoVid-19 related claim that is not necessarily the case.
Harrington went on to say that the first thing a small business owner is to do is check with their insurance agent to ask their opinion whether or not their policy provides this type of coverage but cautions that small businesses should file a business interruption claim, no matter what.
The insurance company will almost certainly deny your claim,” Harrington continued, “but you have a limited amount of time within which to file a claim, and you certainly don’t want to be left out if this type of claim is later deemed to be valid.”
“We are all plowing new ground here,” said Harrington. “Neither the insurance companies, their agents, small business owners, nor we attorneys have any experience dealing with a global pandemic and its affect on a small business and the economy in general.”
“All we know is that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and if America is going to move forward from all of this, our small businesses are going to need all the help they can get from the government, from their insurance company, and from their customers.” Harrington continued, “Small businesses pay a lot of money in insurance premiums and if there is a benefit for them under their policy then they need it now more than ever.”
According to Harrington, a bill has even been filed in the Louisiana Legislation requiring insurance companies to pay CoVid-19 related small business interruption claims, but the bill has been tabled.
Harrington said that The Harrington Law Firm is offering free reviews of small business owners’ policies and attempt to help them navigate through these trying times. For a free policy review or for further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or C. Rodney Harrington at email@example.com or call The Harrington Law Firm at 318-352-5900.