Has your Massachusetts business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Has your business been forced to lay off or furlough workers, or close down entirely due to the effects of the coronavirus? Have you been denied a business interruption claim by your insurance company despite clearly being affected by the impact of the virus? If so, contact the Cambridge attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP immediately to discuss options that may be available to you. We have successfully been handling insurance disputes for over 50 years.
What is a business interruption claim?
Although it is not mandatory for businesses to purchase an insurance policy regarding the sudden and unforeseen halting of their business operations, many will understandably do so to safeguard themselves against significant losses that may be incurred from a sudden and unexpected fire, flood, hurricane or other natural disaster.
And while a worldwide pandemic might seem like a clear-cut example of an unforeseeable incident that would be covered under such a policy when it forces a business to close down for an undetermined amount of time – many businesses are finding out that unfortunately may not be the case.
This is largely due to the work of the Insurance Services Office, who in 2006 submitted a new regulatory standard that specifically recommended insurance companies exclude losses incurred “Due to Virus or Bacteria.” This was done in the aftermath of the worldwide scare that happened due to SARS. Although that epidemic was thankfully curbed before reaching pandemic status, many insurance companies were scared enough to include that language in policies regarding business interruption claims.
Were you denied for a business interruption claim in Massachusetts?
Now, the result of that wording is rearing its head as millions of businesses across the nation are experiencing unprecedented losses due to the continuing closure of non-essential businesses caused by the response to COVID-19. Governor Charlie Baker has announced that restaurants, for instance, must remain closed to dine-in service until at least May 4, and then likely much longer after that while restrictions to gathering are – ideally – slowly lifted.
As many small businesses are already suffering from closures and a lack of customers, this may be too much time to wait, and they likely face layoffs or a complete loss of their business. Those who purchased an insurance policy meant to protect them from such unforeseeable interruptions may likely be wondering how their insurance policy could deny their claims – and that is where Altman & Altman can step in to assist you.
The Massachusetts Senate, thankfully, has put forth a bill that would require insurance companies to provide business interruption coverage to policy holders who have experienced a negative impact or loss of revenue due to COVID-19 and who have 150 or fewer full-time workers. Similar bills are being considered in other states, including New Jersey and New York. It has a growing list of supporters. This bill would also reimburse insurance companies, with the understanding at how much money they would have to pay out should the bill pass.
You are not alone
The bottom line is that nobody should face this crisis on their own. Business owners should be able to expect their insurance companies to honor their policy’s true intent – which is to protect them in the event of an unforeseeable interruption to their business. Few could argue from a position of integrity that businesses don’t face an unforeseeable interruption during this unprecedented pandemic.
However, this does not mean there will be no battle required to get businesses the relief they so desperately need to stay in business and keep their staff employed. Legislation and claims will need to be fought for and will be endlessly debated – with much money at stake on either side. This is why having an attorney from Altman & Altman LLP on your side is so vital. With over 50 years of experience advocating for our clients, we’ll give you the best representation possible and the best chance to win.
If you or a loved one operates a business in Massachusetts that has been impacted financially by the Coronavirus, contact us online or call for a free consultation today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.