If you own a business, you know that the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis has had a drastic impact on the United States economy. Any small business owner who is unable to operate during this time risks losing their livelihood and the business that they have carefully built from the ground up. However, you may have business interruption insurance coverage that can help. Our business interruption claim lawyers explain how you may be able to file a claim for compensation.
Small Businesses and Business Interruption Claims During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Nevada small businesses can claim business interruption coverage due to COVID-19. If you have a policy that includes coverage for all kinds of physical risk and loss, you can bring a claim. Whether or not you can claim small business interruption coverage depends on the exact terms of the policy in question.
It’s essential to review the specific terms of the insurance policy that is in place to determine if the business owner has a valid claim.
Does Small Business Insurance Cover the COVID-19 Coronavirus Shutdown?
Yes, small business insurance may cover the COVID-19 Coronavirus government-ordered shutdown. You may have an insurance policy or rider that covers physical risks. Losses for periods when you are unable to use your building because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus shutdown may be covered by the interruption provisions of your insurance policy.
The exact terms of your insurance policy are fundamental. Depending on the language in your contract, small business insurance may cover COVID-19 Coronavirus shutdown losses.
How To Know If Your Business Interruption Insurance Covers COVID-19 and Coronavirus
To know if your business interruption insurance covers COVID-19 and Coronavirus, you first look to the terms of your insurance policy. An insurance policy is interpreted according to its plain, ordinary meaning, as in the Ambrosio v. Affordable Auto Rental Inc., 307 N.J.Super. 114 (1998) case.
In other words, your insurance policy is what it says it is. The courts can’t rewrite the insurance policy to make it more favorable to either party. To know if your losses are covered, you must first turn to the contract itself and review the plain language found inside.
Business Interruption Coverage, Basic Coverage and Extended Riders
Most business owners have a basic insurance coverage contract and a series of riders. The basic coverage contract contains the standard terms. The riders are extra types of coverage that you select based on your company’s individual needs.
What kinds of riders you select are extremely important when it comes to interpreting coverage for COVID-19 and Coronavirus losses. Standard business insurance policies tend to require physical damage to the building for losses to be covered. However, extended coverage may include any kind of loss or interruption. If you have the extended coverage, you’re almost certainly entitled to compensation.
If you have a general policy that requires physical damage, however, all is not lost. While some insurance companies are trying to deny business interruption claims by resting on physical damage requirements, our business interruption claim attorneys know that the answer is more complex. Just like COVID-19 is a new public health threat, business interruption lawsuits based on COVID-19 and Coronavirus are new, too. Although there are no prior cases based on the same exact virus, there are some similar types of cases that can shed light on whether the insurance companies are wrongfully denying valid claims.
Case Law About COVID-19 Coronavirus Business Interruption Lawsuits
The case law about COVID-19 Coronavirus business interruption lawsuits makes three points that are critical for both owners and insurers:
- The terms of the specific policy in place are what decides the case.
- Applicable state law determines how to interpret a business interruption claim.
- COVID-19 Coronavirus threats may be covered as a type of physical loss.
In the 2002 Port Authority v. Affiliated FM Insurance case, the plaintiff sued after asbestos in the building caused an interruption in business. The court made it clear that it would review the actual insurance policy to see what it had to say about coverage for physical damages. In addition to looking at terms the parties agreed to, they would also look at state law to determine how to interpret the policy.
Although there are no previous COVID-19 Coronavirus cases to go on, there are similar types of losses in other cases that resulted in rulings favorable to the insured party. For example, in the Western Fire Ins. Co., v. First Presbyterian Church case, 165 Colo. 34 (1968), the court required payment when gas fumes seeped into the building structure. The building itself wasn’t altered. However, it was unsafe to use the building for a period of time. The Western Fire court said that the insurance policy covered direct physical loss and all other risks of direct physical loss, including danger from fire vapors that rendered the building unsafe.
Similarly, in Hughes v. Potomac Insurance Company, 199 Cal App. 2nd, 239, a court said that the issue isn’t whether just the physical building itself is damaged. The standard is not whether all four walls remain intact. Instead, the standard for what amounts to a physical loss is whether the building is useless to its owners. In the Hughes case, a series of heavy rains caused a washout. Even though the structure was still intact, it was now perched on a cliff and too dangerous to use. The Hughes court considered that kind of danger to be a physical loss.
Nevada Small Business Interruption Claims Attorneys
Has your small business interruption claim been denied? We’re Nevada’s small business interruption claims attorneys. Our lawyers go the extra mile to ensure that our clients get fair representation. You deserve to have your insurance policy honored and we will fight to make sure it is.
As your Nevada small business interruption claim attorneys, we dig deeper to help you find ways to bring your lawsuit and receive the coverage that you deserve. With the Adam S. Kutner, Personal Injury Attorneys, you have our entire legal team fighting for you. Call us today for your free consultation.