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Filing a Florida Business Interruption Insurance Claim After Hurricane Ian

Florida business interruption insurance Hurricane IanThe number of Florida insurance claims filed after Hurricane Ian is steadily rising, with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation estimating there have so far been nearly 450,000 claims, more than 12,300 of those being commercial property claims. Those figures are likely to climb. Insured losses for wind damage are estimated to be somewhere between $23 billion and $35 billion, while flood losses covered by private insurers and the National Flood Insurance Program are going to be anywhere from $8 billion to $18 billion. (The actual amount of damage is much higher; these are only the estimated losses covered by insurance.)

For Southwest Florida business owners forced to halt operations – temporarily or indefinitely – it’s a smart idea to consult with a Fort Myers business interruption insurance claim lawyer.

Small businesses are the heartbeat of Florida’s Gulf Coast, especially in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Business interruption insurance covers losses sustained when you’re forced to shut down your business for a covered reason. It isn’t required in Florida, but it is highly recommended for South Florida companies – for situations just like this.

Hurricanes are notorious for closing down South Florida businesses for various stretches. Business interruption insurance won’t cover the property damage losses (which are hopefully covered in your commercial insurance policy). What it can do is cover things like:

  • Lost income and profits.
  • Fixed expenses, like utilities and payroll.
  • Ongoing tax burdens.
  • Reasonable expenses incurred while business is temporarily operating elsewhere.
  • Lost rental income.
  • Relocation expenses.
  • Small business loan payments.

Typically, business interruption policies only apply in situations where there is physical damage to the business property or some other property that precludes employees and customers from entering. An example of the latter situation would be the destruction of the Sanibel Causeway, the only roadway on/off the island making entry only accessible by boat or aircraft.

It can also apply in situations where the government shuts down certain areas due to property damage. As it applies to Southwest Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian, not only were businesses no longer standing but entry to-and-from barrier islands like Fort Myers Beach was officially limited by the government – first to search-and-rescue crews, then recovery teams, then property and business owners. Even if buildings were still standing, the inability of workers and customers to get to and from those areas would be sufficient to trigger business interruption insurance.

Check Your Florida Business Interruption Insurance Policy

It’s not a guarantee that you have a Florida business interruption insurance policy. This type of coverage is typically a rider or add-on to a larger property insurance or casualty insurance policy. Sometimes it’s included as part of an “All Risks” package.

Certainly, it’s used by Florida businesses during hurricane season, but we also saw business owners tapping into it during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which government agencies sometimes intervened in requiring non-essential businesses to close their doors.

The premiums paid for Florida business interruption insurance are typically tax deductible, just as it is with other business expenses.

As for exactly how much you might recover, it usually depends on the financial health of your company and what you’d earn or pay in a typical month or year.

FAQ on Commercial Insurance Coverage

With so many Southwest Florida businesses reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the Florida Division of Consumer Services released a Commercial Insurance Coverage FAQ that business owners may want to check out as they begin picking up the pieces and deciding their next steps. Some of the key takeaways there:

  • Outside plate glass windows may be covered in a commercial building, but only if the company/commercial property owner had comprehensive glass insurance. Even then, there are certain conditions that have to be met. For example, did you have hurricane shutters or a particular grade of plywood put up? If not, your windows might not be covered.
  • Food spoilage is normally not covered in commercial policies. However, business interruption insurance coverage may cover the loss of receipts or income for employees.
  • If your business in an evacuation zone were closed in anticipation of the storm’s projected path, which later switched, those losses *might* be covered, but it will depend on the precise language in your business interruption coverage.
  • Business interruption coverage might apply if businesses are in a geographic area where customers were evacuated. The closure of nearby highways, interstates, bridges or main thoroughfares nearby may be enough to trigger coverage.

If you have questions about Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, or Boca Grande business interruption insurance or need help filing or following up on your claim, our dedicated, longtime Fort Myers property damage lawyers can help.

If you are injured or have suffered storm damage in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free consultation.

Additional Resources:

Ian Claims in Florida Topping 449,000 So Far, But Many More Expected, Oct. 11, 2022, Insurance Journal

More Blog Entries:

Fort Myers Injury Lawyer Tips for Talking to Insurance Adjusters, Sept. 21, 2022, Fort Myers Property Damage Lawyer Blog

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