Many stores, retail shops, and other businesses are suffering incalculable losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As stay-at-home orders and restrictions slowly lift, another wave of crisis has hit the nation in the form of civil unrest, protesting, and public rioting.
Some businesses that were just beginning to find their footing again are now facing extensive destruction of property, loss of inventory, and other damage. Even those businesses that haven’t suffered riot damage are still experiencing loss of income due to government-imposed curfews during this time of unrest.
This begs the question – how many insurance claims and paperwork can you file for one business? Does insurance even cover civil unrest? What if I’ve already filed a claim for pandemic-related losses?
Civil commotion and riots are a named peril
According to the Insurance Information Institute, “…riots, civil commotion, vandalism, looting and fire in the U.S. are covered perils under virtually all business owners and commercial insurance property policies.” So, unless you have a clause specifically excluding these events, your property insurance should cover these losses. In fact, most insurance policies list riots as a named peril:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
- Sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning, or bulging
- Sudden and accidental damage due to short circuiting
- Volcanic eruption
Your insurer will likely pay out for these causes of property damage. However, risk management experts believe that business owners may not receive the full amount of compensation to which they’re entitled. Insurers may be more likely to base their business interruption insurance payments on projected income, rather than past income. And, because many businesses have lost a significant amount of income over the past few months during the coronavirus pandemic, their projected income will be considerably lower – which means a lower and possibly unfair settlement offer.
Read your policy
Every insurance policy is different, and may use different wording regarding what is and what is not covered. This is why it’s important to thoroughly read your policy to ensure what coverage applies to your business. Different states may have different insurance regulations as well, so whether you live in Alabama, Florida, or Louisiana, it’s important to take the following steps to protect yourself.
- Review your policy with a qualified and experienced insurance attorney. Ensure you know the extent of your coverage, including the fine print.
- Document your losses, damage-related expenses, and lost income. An attorney can organize this paperwork and properly file these complicated claims on your behalf.
- If possible, mitigate the damage. After photographing and documenting property damage, take steps to prevent further damage, like boarding up windows, replacing windows, or other steps to limit losses.
Submitting an insurance claim for COVID-19 losses along with riot losses is a perfect storm of complex paperwork and competing filing. Warhurst Law can help you make sense of it all during this extremely difficult time. To schedule a consultation with a business interruption insurance attorney, call us at 251.207.1296 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. Our lawyers represent business owners of all types and sizes throughout the Southeast including Alabama, the Florida panhandle, and Louisiana.
* Warhurst Law cannot and does not guarantee an outcome to any case.