Have the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s stay-at-home orders impacted your business? If so, you might be eligible for benefits through your business interruption insurance. This type of insurance is meant to help business owners get back on their feet after a disaster.
Many of these policies are filled with confusing conditions and rules that can be difficult to understand when you’re just trying to find the information you need quickly during this pandemic. Additionally, the media has spread incomplete information about business insurance that might have you worried that your policy might not cover your needs related to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Alabama business dispute lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. are here to help you in the midst of this crisis. Our skilled attorneys can review your policy, help you understand your legal options, and help you fight for your rights. We’re dedicated to helping and supporting hardworking business owners just like you throughout Alabama.
For over 50 years, Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. has been helping people in Huntsville and throughout the Tennessee Valley stand up for their rights and get on the road to recovery. Not only are we committed to providing excellent legal skills to get the results that count, but we’re also deeply invested in this community and regularly volunteer our time and resources for local causes.
If you’re suffering from a business disruption due to coronavirus, contact Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. to get help now. We’re ready to serve you with offices in Huntsville and Florence, as well as virtual meeting options during this crisis. Call us today or connect with us online for your free case review.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Does Business Interruption Insurance Work During COVID-19?
- 2 Contact Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. for Help Now During COVID-19
How Does Business Interruption Insurance Work During COVID-19?
Many businesses are wondering whether their business interruption insurance will cover their COVID-19 losses. This insurance is additional coverage, which is typically under a business’ property insurance policy and is meant to compensate businesses for income lost because of a disaster.
COVID-19 may qualify as a disastrous event under many insurance policies because of the president’s national emergency declaration and Alabama’s stay-at-home orders. However, it’s essential to review your particular policy for specifics of your business interruption coverage.
Some of the types of coverage that business interruption policies typically provide include:
- Coverage for times that a government-initiated action like an evacuation, roadblock, or curfew prevents access to your business property
- Coverage for when a disaster makes it extremely challenging to enter or exit your business
- Coverage for lost rental income
- Coverage for losses your business might encounter when you can’t access essential services like electricity, transportation, or communications
Analyzing Your Policy and Alabama Laws
Insurance companies include many conditions and rules in their policies in order to reduce the amount of money that they have to pay out. If you aren’t able to prove that your situation meets certain requirements, then your insurer might try to use clauses or caveats to keep you from getting the insurance payments that you thought you were owed.
Some of the conditions that business interruption policies might include are:
- Rules that your business property must have experienced direct physical damage
- Requirements that the disaster met certain government-imposed restrictions
- Conditions in how your business can measure damages related to the disaster or qualifying event
- Exclusions related to pandemics
It’s important to review your specific insurance policy because not all policies include virus exclusions. However, even if your policy includes these conditions or exclusions, you might still be able to recover compensation by making claims under these policies.
For example, you might be able to claim physical damages to your property because coronavirus lives on certain surfaces for many days, plus you might have to undergo extensive testing and cleaning procedures before you can reopen your business.
Additionally, it’s possible that Congress will pass new laws to either provide funds to businesses impacted by coronavirus or encourage insurance companies to provide relief to policyholders for business disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Insurance companies took similar measures after 9/11 when they waived exclusions related to acts of war and paid out claims after encouragement from Congress.
Protecting Your Rights During COVID-19
Many news reports have issued dire warnings that insurance companies won’t cover business losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the truth is that business owners still have options. There are several steps you can take to protect your business during this crisis.
An important step in standing up for your rights is to file a business interruption claim, no matter if you think it will get denied. To improve the chances of your insurer approving your claim, it’s essential to submit supporting evidence, such as business revenue and expense reports and details on your business’ history and employees.
However, even if your claim is denied, the simple act of filing helps you show proof of loss, plus this denial might help you access additional legal options. For example, after a denial, you might be able to file a lawsuit against your insurer and fight for compensation in court.
Additionally, this could make it easier for your business to access compensation if the government passes laws to provide relief to businesses impacted by COVID-19. If you already filed a claim with insurance, then you will likely have all of the documents and paperwork that you’ll need in order to submit a government claim.
It’s critical to fight for all the funds that might be available to your business. While the government has released some low-interest business loans under the CARES Act to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus, these funds might not be enough to cover all of your businesses’ expenses.
One of the best ways to protect your rights is to work with a knowledgeable business interruption lawyer. Insurance companies often use any caveat they can to avoid paying businesses the money they deserve, and the conditions in government programs are extremely complicated.
Your lawyer can help determine the benefits available to your business through each of these policies and programs. They can also help make sure any paperwork you need to file is completed convincingly, and they can help fight for the full compensation that you’re owed.
Calculating Business Interruption Value
When you’re calculating the value of your business interruption, it’s critical to compile a full list of your damages, such as payroll, utility costs, taxes, or added advertising costs to inform customers of new policies in light of the crisis.
This equation can estimate your claim:
Total value of business interruption damages =
Ongoing expenses (such as rent, utilities, etc.)
+ Added expenses
+ Net income
Staying Updated with COVID-19 Developments
It’s critical to stay up to date on local, state, and federal regulations while coronavirus and its impact on businesses continue to evolve. Laws and policies across the country are changing continually to meet these needs.
For example, New Jersey is considering a law that would force insurance companies to cover coronavirus-related businesses’ losses. Additionally, the mayor of New York has ordered that COVID-19’s impact on businesses should be considered as property damage.
So far in Alabama, the Commissioner of Insurance has issued a bulletin encouraging insurers to consider flexibility for policyholders in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. As of now, this bulletin only covers leniency for things like insurance premium payment deadlines and late fees.
However, the recommendations from Alabama government offices might expand as business impacts become more apparent. At least two Alabama businesses have already sued their insurance companies after their insurers refused to pay for coronavirus-related losses.
Many Alabama-specific updates are available on Governor Ivey’s coronavirus website. The site has information on the government’s orders, as well as resources for impacted individuals and businesses, such as links to apply for federal and state assistance. Additionally, the Altogether Alabama site has a questionnaire that users can follow to find help.
Nonetheless, these resources can be confusing if you are trying to get to help on your own. That’s why Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. is here to help Alabama businesses in need during this crisis. Our experienced business dispute team is continually monitoring the developments in coronavirus-related business impacts, so we have the latest information on policies and regulations that might be able to help with your circumstances.
Additionally, our skilled and compassionate team is prepared to help you with all of your business needs. We are well-versed in state, local, and federal business laws, and we have what it takes to handle all aspects of your case.
Contact Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. for Help Now During COVID-19
Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. has been fighting for the rights of business owners in Huntsville and the surrounding areas for more than 50 years. We’re ready to do the same for you. If you have questions about legal options available to you or need help filing a business disruption claim, our skilled business dispute team is here to help.
Contact us today by phone or reach us online to schedule your free consultation. You have nothing to lose by speaking with us. We won’t charge you anything unless we help you recover compensation, plus we have numerous virtual meeting options available during this crisis.