When a disaster strikes and forces the temporary closure of your business, it can be stressful for you as a business owner. You may already be aware, but there’s a chance your business insurance includes coverage for what’s known as “business interruption insurance.”
If a qualifying disaster, like a fire, flood, or vandalism strikes, you may have coverage for your loss of income and continued expenses under a business interruption insurance policy. This coverage is not a standalone policy. If you don’t remember purchasing the insurance, it doesn’t automatically mean you don’t have coverage. You need to review, or have an attorney review, your various business insurance policies to see what coverage you might have in the event of a disaster.
Business interruption insurance claims can be tricky. You don’t necessarily want to attempt handling one on your own. Insurance companies sometimes deny these claims based on no coverage right from the start. If your business suffered a disaster and you’re temporarily closed while repairs are being made, you need to speak with a skilled business interruption insurance attorney.
Claims involving business interruption insurance are specialized. This is not the type of case just any attorney you know or look up online should handle. It’s essential to find someone that has experience in these types of matters. When you are narrowing down law firms, here are some things you should look for before deciding on an attorney.
Hire a Business Interruption Insurance Attorney Who Specializes in These Claims
If possible, you want to choose an attorney who specializes in business interruption claims. For example, you don’t want to search for lawyers who only specialize in auto accidents or family law matters. You need someone with insurance coverage experience and who understands contract law.
Since many business interruption claims may be denied for no coverage, you need a lawyer who is not afraid to push back against the insurance company. Attorneys who have experience with these types of claims already know all the tactics insurers use to get out of paying these claims.
Ask About the Attorney’s Trial Experience
Having an attorney who has a solid record at trial is also something important to consider. If you know your claim is likely to be denied and will go to court, would you really want someone who has never tried a case before? These are technical claims and require strong attention to detail. Having someone who already knows the court system and has tried one or more of these cases can be beneficial and help you prevail.
Find Someone with Knowledge on COVID-19 Claims Legislation
Does your business interruption claim have to do with COVID-19 and the government shutdown? Or perhaps one or more positive cases were traced back to your establishment. If your claim has to do with COVID-19, you definitely need an attorney who keeps up on the current legal climate regarding denials and potential legislative changes.
Many business insurance companies are denying COVID-19 related business interruption claims right from the start. Some insurers are citing policy language that says a qualifying disaster does not include viruses, infectious diseases, etc. Other insurers rely on the argument that COVID-19 doesn’t create or cause physical damage to your business, so your business is not disrupted.
Unfortunately, government-ordered shutdowns all across the country have wreaked havoc for most business owners. Understandably, some restaurants and other companies are filing lawsuits demanding coverage for COVID-19 closures. There are some strong arguments to be made for coverage, which is why you need an attorney who is up to date on what’s happening with the courts and laws.
Find an Attorney You Feel Comfortable with
You want a lawyer that you feel comfortable with. You need someone who is quick to respond and easy to get hold of. When conducting initial meetings with potential attorneys, be sure to ask them some critical questions. These can include:
- What is your fee schedule? Do you work on an hourly billing system or on a contingency basis?
- Will you be the attorney working on my case at all times, or will a junior attorney be assigned?
- What is your communication policy regarding clients? Do you return emails or calls within 24 hours? 48 hours?
- What type of experience do you have handling cases like mine?
- Why should I hire you over someone else?
- Can you show me reviews from other clients? Case results from trials?
Depending on the circumstances of your claim, you may have more detailed questions to ask before making a decision. The sooner you retain an attorney and get started, the better it is for your claim.
Your insurer will expect you to promptly report the claim and take all necessary steps to mitigate your damages. This means you need to do whatever is necessary to ensure there is no additional damage to your structure.
There may be a waiting period of 24 to 72 hours before your coverage will kick in. Also, there is only a certain amount of time your insurer will pay for benefits, which is known as the period of restoration. If the insurer initially believes you need to remain closed for only three months, they may agree to extend benefits slightly beyond the initial estimate. However, that doesn’t mean to drag your feet to get extra coverage that is not warranted.
You want to get your business back open as soon as possible. An attorney can expedite the claims filing process, work toward getting your claim covered, and provide the assistance you need along the way to make sure you are continuing to mitigate your damages. Your attorney is also the one who will help you put together all the required supporting documents so you get the maximum amount of coverage and compensation possible. Contact a business interruption attorney today before you speak with your insurance company and run the risk of a denial.