Since March 16, 2020, restaurants, bars, casinos, and movie theaters in Louisiana have been nearly 100 percent shuttered. After March 23, 2020, all non-essential business in Louisiana have been closed to the public. While the country fights the pandemic, it is the businesses and their employees who are suffering financially. Business owners have likely already asked themselves whether their insurance policies would give them any assistance, and perhaps they have already questioned their insurance agent, only to be told that there is no coverage. Insurers are banding together, telling their agents and the public at large that they will give no relief, that there is no help available, and that you are on your own as far as they are concerned. But is that correct? Are they telling you the truth? The answer is probably not.
Your commercial property insurance policy likely includes business interruption coverage for losses if your business has to abruptly shut down. Some policies also include “contingent” coverage for losses resulting from the closure of a supplier. Some policies may also cover rents unpaid by tenants who have suspended or terminated their occupancy following the occurrence of a direct physical loss. Whether your insurance policy covers an interruption to your business depends upon the policy’s language.
This coverage is triggered when there is “direct physical loss” to your business’ property, which compels a closure, or, if you close due to a government order or if there is physical damage to a business in your area that is not necessarily yours. Louisiana courts have held that contamination qualifies as physical damage, which means that the contamination of your business or your neighbor’s business by the COVID-19 virus may trigger coverage in your policies, a fact that your insurer will not admit. Since 2006, many commercial property policies contain certain exclusions that the insurers will assert apply here to bar coverage; however, whether a court will agree with the insurer’s position is far from certain. Also, many policies do not have a virus exclusion at all, which is another fact that the insurer will not admit to you.
Right now insurers are denying claims outright, and we expect that to continue. There is no downside to submitting a claim, and submitting a claim is required to start the process, even though it will likely be denied. Whether that denial is proper, and whether or not the insurer will ultimately pay your claim requires a careful review of your policy and will likely require litigation with the insurer. We stand ready to assist you with your claim and the likely litigation.
Please use the form below to begin your Business Interruption Claim. Once your form has been submitted, you will be contacted by a representative from Laborde Earles Law Firm who will request the following:
- A copy of all current policy documents: Declarations page(s), binder info with details and exclusions, any forms of renewal, etc.
o Common types of policies include Business Owners Insurance, Common Policy, Property Policy, etc.
- A copy of insurance claim denial
For questions or concerns, contact Amber Sims at 337-337-408-1482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.