Business-Loss Insurance Lawsuits on the Rise Amid Coronavirus Closures

Author: Nick Lussier

The Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) has disrupted businesses from coast to coast and since led to a slew of lawsuits against insurance companies. The famed restaurateur, Thomas Keller (“Keller”), recently sued The Hartford and underwriter, Lloyd’s of London, seeking judgment in its favor pursuant to an insurance policy that extended coverage from direct physical loss and/or from a civil authority shut-down due to a global pandemic virus. The lawsuit is pending before the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans in the State of Louisiana and the Napa County Superior Court in California. Keller is not alone. Several other businesses, including casinos, have filed similar suits seeking to compel payments due to losses stemming from COVID-19 closures.

The operation of a small business is difficult without insurance. Small business owners across the country seek out the best possible business-loss insurance plans, which cost anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per month, to protect their businesses. Such plans promise to “pay bills” and “replace lost income and cover payroll when a covered event forces your business to close temporarily.” Such policies even ask business owners to “imagine the worst-case scenario” when filling out their policies so that payments properly cover any possible losses. Certain policies advertise reimbursements for costs, such as:

  • Lost profits
  • Mortgages/rent
  • Utilities
  • Taxes
  • Payroll
  • Advertising
  • Relocation Fees

Insurance companies have pushed back against recent lawsuits, claiming COVID-19 does not cause a “dangerous condition to property.” According to Court filings and news reports, the “property/casualty insurance industry has been mostly united behind the defense that most business interruption policies exclude coverage for pandemics and require physical damage to occur on the site.” With that said, some underwriters have requested a federal solution. David Sampson, CEO of American Property Casualty Insurers, requested a federal solution, according to Insurance Journal, because business interruption issues are at such a scale that were not previously anticipated. Thus, coverage may not be easy to ascertain.

It is important to have experienced legal counsel to fight for your business, The attorneys at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah (“SFMS”) have fought and won hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients. To find out how SFMS might be able to help you fight for what you paid for and help your business, big or small, please contact aberin@sfmslaw.com or jroberts@sfmslaw.com or call toll-free at 877-891-9880.

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A Message to Our Clients About Coronavirus COVID-19

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