Have you been forced to close your business due to government stay-at-home orders? Has your business suffered losses in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis? If so, you might be entitled to seek compensation from your business interruption insurance policy.
Some business owners – even those who have suffered significant damages because of this pandemic – might be afraid to even try to file an insurance claim right now. They might have heard there’s no way that insurers will pay for coronavirus-related losses. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Every policy is different, and business owners might have many more options available to them than they realize.
If you have suffered business losses related to COVID-19, the law firm of Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers is here to provide the support you need. Our skilled Baton Rouge business interruption lawyers have been fighting for hardworking people in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas for more than 30 years. We have the skills and resources to pursue results that make a difference and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
We understand that while some cases might have similarities, your specific circumstances are very personal. This is why our compassionate business dispute attorneys will take the time to get to know you and the unique challenges you are facing. As demonstrated by our superior case results and glowing client testimonials, our experienced team is not only dedicated to aggressively advocating for clients, but we’re also committed to giving each client the personal attention they deserve.
Give us a chance to help you get through this difficult time. Call Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers today or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Steps to Take if Your Business Suffers Losses
If your business has suffered losses due to a major event like a flood, fire, or pandemic, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights and your future:
Contact a Business Interruption Lawyer
A skilled lawyer can help you navigate the various legal options that might be available to you. They can also help you complete the piles of paperwork required for claims and help gather the documentation and proof needed to build a strong claim. A compassionate and experienced attorney can also stand by your side throughout this painful time and help you fight for your rights.
Assess the Damage
Estimate how much the disaster has cost your business by reviewing factors such as ongoing expenses, additional costs triggered by the disaster, and lost revenue.
Act Quickly to Get Help
Louisiana and federal governments have several resources available to assist businesses impacted by disasters like the coronavirus. For example, the Louisiana Economic Development website has a list of resources for impacted businesses in the state. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers guidance and loan resources to small businesses impacted by disaster.
Communicate Early and Often
Reach out to customers as soon as possible and through any channels available to keep them informed of your business’ status. For example, it’s critical to keep customers updated on when you might reopen and any measures you’re taking to ensure customer safety in the midst of the crisis.
Business Interruption Coverage
Business interruption insurance coverage is an additional type of insurance that businesses can purchase as part of their commercial property insurance, commercial package policy, or business owner’s policy. It’s meant to cover losses when your business is unable to operate because of disasters.
Generally, this insurance kicks in when your business is interrupted due to conditions such as:
- A disaster makes it impossible or very difficult to exit or enter your business.
- Your business can’t get essential services like communications or electricity because of a qualifying event.
- A government action, such as an evacuation or roadblock, impedes access to your property.
- Your business loses rental income because of a qualifying event.
Not all insurance policies are identical, and the specifics of what a policy covers depends on the details of that particular plan. However, in the midst of tragic disaster events, business disruption insurance typically helps businesses cover expenses, such as:
- Ongoing bills like rent, utilities, and employee wages
- Costs from having to operate from a temporary location
- Loss of revenue during the closure
- Added advertising needed to inform customers of operations during a business disruption
The amount of money that a business can recover from insurance is usually based on the value of what the business would have earned if the disaster hadn’t happened.
To calculate the value of what your business might be able to recover, it’s critical to gather the business’ financial records from previous years to help determine the extent of your losses. Some of the paperwork necessary for this valuation might include lists of expenses, profit and loss statements, sales projections, or past tax returns.
Business Interruption During Covid-19
Insurance policies for business disruption often cover losses only when the property experiences direct physical damage due to a qualifying event that interrupts business operations. These policies often have a number of other exclusions, limitations, or conditions as well. For example, some policies have language that precludes coverage for losses due to a virus or pandemic.
It’s critical to review the terms and conditions of your specific plan because not every insurance policy has pandemic exclusions. However, even if your policy says that you can’t get coverage for losses due to a pandemic, you might still be eligible for compensation.
Local and national authorities and lawmakers are considering changes to rules that might impact your claim, and some state legislators have already begun to act. For instance, in New Jersey, lawmakers have introduced a bill that would compel insurance companies to accept business loss claims for COVID-19 reasons.
These considerations are similar to the actions that Congress and insurance groups took after 9/11 to help businesses. In the aftermath of that disaster, insurance companies made an exception to their policy exclusions on acts of war in order to provide relief to businesses that suffered losses due to 9/11.
An example of actions that these parties might take in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is that Congress might encourage insurance companies to consider certain damages from coronavirus as physical property damage.
In fact, New York’s mayor has already said that damages from the virus should be regarded as property damage. The virus can live on surfaces for several days, and businesses might have to undertake significant cleaning of their property before they can open.
In the meantime, it’s essential to file a claim for business interruption insurance, even if you think insurance is likely to deny your claim. For one, it’s impossible to know for sure whether your claim will get denied if you don’t even try, plus you can’t file a lawsuit against the insurance company to try to get compensation unless you have already received a denial from them.
You can improve your chances of getting your claim approved by making sure your claim is as complete and convincing as possible. It’s critical to include supporting evidence, such as reports on your business’ expenses and revenue, in addition to other pertinent details like the business’ history.
Going through the process of filing a claim with your insurance company might help give you an advantage in the instance that the government enacts changes that impact business interruptions. The documentation and evidence that you will need for a claim with the government are likely to be identical or very similar to the paperwork you need for your insurance claim.
What if Your Insurance Provider Denies Your Claim?
If your insurance provider denies your claim at first, it’s critical to speak with a business dispute attorney. They can evaluate your case, fully review your insurance policy, and help you understand your legal options.
Skilled attorneys have experience deciphering these policies and negotiating with insurers. They know the tricks these companies take and understand how to reason with them to help clients get maximum compensation.
While these policies have exclusions and conditions and insurers often try to insist that there is one way to interpret policies, many of these rules are ambiguous. This ambiguity leaves room for negotiation and additional legal options. Many policyholders have filed actions against their insurance companies and recovered compensation that they were initially denied.
One option that might be available to you would be to sue your insurance company to get compensation. To prepare for this action, it’s critical to gather as much evidence as possible, including a copy of your policy, your record of business losses, and any communications you have had with the insurance company.
Get Help From a Baton Rouge Business Interruption Attorney at Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers
For over 30 years, the dedicated business interruption attorneys at Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers have been helping people across the Baton Rouge metro area get results that matter, and we want to help you do the same.
If you are suffering business losses due to COVID-19, if you are considering filing a business interruption claim, or if your claim has been denied, contact the law firm of Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers right away to get the help you need.
Don’t wait a moment longer to get on the road to recovery. To get started, call us today or contact us online to set up a free consultation with a Baton Rouge business interruption lawyer.