Fort Myers Business Interruption Insurance Claims Lawyer
Small businesses are the lifeblood of Florida’s economy. Most – particularly in the restaurant, hotel and hospitality industries – know business interruption insurance coverage is an imperative. Florida’s annual hurricane seasons are proof enough of that.
Hurricanes Charlie, Irma and now Ian brought into stark relief just how vital this type of coverage is. However, many insurance companies will be denying or underpaying many claims relating to Hurricane Ian losses; as such, filing a successful claim may seem like an even steeper uphill battle.
This does not mean you cannot secure the fair compensation you are owed. It does mean that you will need an experienced business interruption claim attorney to help you do it.What is Business Interruption Insurance?
If your Sanibel, Captiva, Punta Gorda or other Southwest Florida business has been temporarily shuttered by external factors natural disaster, fire, civil authority shutdown or other unforeseen circumstances, business interruption insurance is intended to provide coverage that can help buoy the firm until you’re back on your feet.
These policies have been purchased to cover things like:
- Lost Income/Profits.
- Operating Expenses.
- Temporary Relocation (if necessary).
- Extra Expenses.
Business interruption insurance, typically an add-on or rider to the property/casualty insurance of comprehensive or “all risk” package policies, should also be applicable if government agencies force you to shut down temporarily due to circumstances outside your control – unless the policy states otherwise. That would include the loss of revenue for a devastating event such as windstorm, fire, flood or loss of access or customers to a business.
Premiums for these plans are considered tax-deductible as ordinary business expenses. The amount you receive is typically based on the company’s previous financial performance.Dealing With Business Interruption Claim Denial
Securing business interruption insurance payouts has never been an easy task. Insurers are not generally eager to pay policy limits on any plans - even under normal circumstances.
Hurricane Ian claims like these being filed in tsunami-like waves. Many Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Englewood business interruption claims are being severely underpaid, if at all. Most are being denied outright, with insurers scrambling to identify any possible loophole that would allow them reduce or even deny claims – Sometimes this occurs with the carriers attempting to blame non covered events for the losses and other times they do this by attempting to prove that your loss was not legitimate or was not as much as it really was. While our legal team, in business for close to 50 years, recognizes the damage and sheer size of the hurricane was unprecedented, there is really nothing new as far as the insurance industry’s disaster playbook. It involves these huge corporations seizing on any legal theory that might allow them to deny valid claims – and hoping you will not fight back.Business Interruption Claim Litigation
Business insurance companies spend years collecting hefty premiums from clients but are too often quick to withhold money when disaster strikes.
It is unclear as of this writing the exact number of Southwest Florida businesses adversely impacted by our recent hurricane. There are many estimates that it will take more than three years to fully recover. Certain industries, such as restaurant and hospitality, are likely to be harder hit than others.
As reported by Insurance Journal, numerous lawsuits were filed in response to business interruption claim denials for the COVID-19 pandemic. Insureds argued forced closure by order of civil authorities in response to a pandemic is a circumstance under which insurers should be liable. Some insureds have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars extra on their policies for provisions that expressly included claims for pandemics and public health crises – and still, their claims were denied. We expect that the insurance industry's response to Hurricane Ian will be no different; however, this time you will be armed to fight back.
Meanwhile, insurance industry advocates are insisting they cannot be liable for business interruptions resulting from precautionary closures – only those that involve physical damage of the property.
There is an argument that the insurance industry will not be able to afford or otherwise withstand the losses from Hurricane Ian. As we saw during the coronavirus, The American Property and Casualty Insurance Association estimated aggregate losses for all U.S. businesses of fewer than 100 employees to be more than $430 billion monthly – which is between 40 and 70 times the monthly commercial insurance premiums. Pandemics, the APCIA insisted, were not insured because, “they are uninsurable.” They took it a step further by saying if they are forced to pay COVID-19 business interruption claims, there will not be enough left over to provide adequate coverage of things like workers’ compensation insurance for medical workers and first responders.
Yet insurance revenues have soared into the trillions in recent years. And while insurers insist the entire industry has continued to reword policies to exclude legitimate events such as pandemics or even hurricane related business interruption coverage across all sectors and geographies, the fact is: That precise language does not exist in many business insurance policies.
The Florida Supreme Court held in the 2013 case of Washington Nat’l Ins. Corp. v. Ruderman that anytime there is an ambiguity in policy language, it is to be construed in favor of the policyholder – without consideration of extrinsic (outside) evidence.
If your Southwest Florida business has been shut down or suffered losses from a hurricane, natural disaster or other crisis, our experienced legal team can help you navigate this process and will advocate for a fair payout according to the terms of your business insurance policy.
At this time our office is evaluating cases under the following coverages (or provisions): Property Insurance, Pollution / Environmental Policies, Event Cancelation Insurance, Commercial General Liability Policies, Business Income Insurance, Civil Authority Coverage, Extended Business Income Coverage, Direct Physical Loss or damage.
For more information on business interruption insurance claims, contact Garvin Injury Law for a free consultation with our Fort Myers based attorneys.