COVID-19 Impact on Small Businesses
Sales Lost by Restaurants and Food Industry
Businesses Reporting Revenue Losses Over 50%
Source: MSA COVID-19 Survey
Businesses Listed as Closed on Yelp (as of June 15)
In April, in response to the growing threat from the coronavirus pandemic, local governments across South Florida began imposing various restrictions on business operations in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Non-essential businesses were forced to close or had their maximum capacity limits greatly reduced.
Even as Florida has initiated reopening phases in some places, South Florida continues to be a hotbed of viral activity, requiring businesses to maintain heightened social distancing measures. Moreover, the persistent increase in coronavirus infections in South Florida makes it more likely that there will be another round of business closures.
Although these actions may be necessary from a public health standpoint, they can be devastating to small businesses. Many main-street businesses, especially restaurants and retailers, have suffered horrible economic losses due to these prolonged forced closures and social distancing measures. With nowhere to turn to for help, they are looking at their business interruption insurance policies.
Free Business Interruption Insurance Policy Evaluation
What Is Business Interruption Insurance?
Your commercial insurance policy should have “business interruption coverage” that covers you for revenues that were lost due to forced or unforeseen closures. Policies typically also cover forced reductions or limitations to operations.
Primarily, business interruption insurance is designed to offer financial protection to companies that have suffered a loss of income as a result of a disaster. In the Sunshine State, these disasters are more often than not natural disasters: hurricanes, floods, or windstorms.
The standard formula for determining the value of a business interruption insurance claim is:
Operating Costs + Net Profits + Approved Add’l Costs.
The numbers are calculated for a specific timeframe during which the disaster was ongoing. Insurance companies are loath to shell out money for your claims, and they will use any excuse to deny you, so the more meticulously catalogued the costs the better. Having an experienced insurance lawyer review your policy can increase your chance of a successful business interruption insurance claim.
Potential Business Interruption Insurance Problems
Business interruption coverage is a complex area of insurance law and understanding the language of your specific policy will be the first step in the claims process.
To begin with, in some cases the courts have held that business interruption coverage only applies if there has been physical damage to the premises, a position which privileges natural disasters (e.g. hurricane or earthquake). As such, there are questions about when or even if interruption caused by coronavirus will qualify as physical damage. This is by no means settled, but insurance companies will use it as an argument against paying you.
More dastardly still is the fact that after the 2003 SARS outbreak, some commercial insurance policies began to include clauses that explicitly excluded damages caused by biological-agents. Your policy might include wording that excludes losses caused by “bacteria” or losses caused by “a virus or bacteria.” Yet, a bacterium and a virus are not the same thing, and these language nuances can be used against an insurance company. Because the exact wording of your policy is critical in these instances it’s important to speak with an attorney who can carefully review your policy.
Work with Personal Injury & Accident Law Center
If you’re a business in Palm Beach, Broward, or Miami-Dade counties that has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic, seeking compensation from your business interruption insurance policy may be your only viable option to stay afloat and regain some of your economic losses.
Your insurance company will fight tooth and nail to deny your claim. It’s our job to make sure they pay you! At the Personal Injury & Accident Law Center we know the strategies that Florida’s largest insurance companies will use. Our team is here to help you navigate the business interruption insurance claims process so that you can maximize your recovery.
You can call us at (561)372-3800 to schedule a free insurance policy review with one of our business interruption insurance lawyers or you can submit the confidential form below to have a team member contact you.