From panicked shoppers in crowded Publix supermarkets to shuttered bars and restaurants, signs of the coronavirus and its economic impact are rampant across South Florida.
It makes sense. South Florida is a center for international travel, and the pandemic has resulted in countless canceled trips, disrupted supply chains, and postponed events. Of course, the economic effects of the virus are nothing compared to the devastating death toll — at the time of this writing, there have been more than 1,300 reported deaths across 26 countries. This includes more than 112 reported deaths within the United States.
While things look grim in South Florida, it is important not to panic. Just as our region survived the impact of the Zika virus several years ago, our community and businesses will deal with these crises if we stand together. Through cooperation and informed decisions, we can emerge from this emergency stronger than ever.
For South Florida businesses and families that have been impacted by COVID-19, the Law Office of Andrew Winston is here for you. Our legal team is working full-time from home and will be available round-the-clock to answer your coronavirus business claim questions and fight to help you get the compensation you need and deserve.
Below, we have included a guide to coronavirus claims to guide you through these troubling times.
In addition to staying calm, one of the best things South Florida business owners can do in response to the coronavirus outbreak is to remain informed. We have summarized a few key points from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for businesses to know below.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infectious respiratory illness that was identified after an outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Since then, COVID-19 has spread to multiple countries across the world, including the U.S.
Here are some key recommendations from the CDC for businesses and employers:
For Florida businesses, the last note there is a big one. As the financial impact of the coronavirus escalates, many companies are struggling for a way to offset corona virus-related losses.
When it comes to commercial insurance and business insurance, most policies do not provide protection from getting sick. Whether or not a coronavirus claim is covered may depend on the type of coverage purchased and the specific language in the policy terms.
Below, we will cover how your insurance may work in several different situations:
With many types of commercial property insurance, losses due to business interruption are only covered when there is some kind of physical property loss. Some policies may also cover losses due to business interruption for other reasons — such as civil authority orders — but these policies often require that the civil authority order itself resulted from physical property damage.
Still, the law is not always clear on what exactly a “physical loss” entails. For example, certain businesses might be able to claim that contamination and other incidents made their property physically unsafe or unusable for its purpose. Whether or not you can claim you have suffered a physical loss may depend on the specifics of your policy.
If your business has had to postpone or cancel certain events — especially if those events involved participants or guests from China — you may be able to claim losses under an event cancellation policy. Specifically, you might be able to recover ticket prices, vendor reimbursement, and lost revenue.
Certain policies may even cover out-of-pocket or surprise expenses like lost sales or advertising. However, it’s important to look over your plan closely for exclusions regarding coverage due to reasons like diseases and government orders.
Depending on your type of business, you could be hit with claims from customers asserting that your company failed to appropriately warn or protect them from exposure to COVID-19. In such cases, you might be able to seek coverage for liability from a commercial general liability (CGL) policy.
To determine whether your CGL would provide coverage for the procedures you use and warn and protect customers against the coronavirus, look over your CGL policy carefully. In many cases, CGL policies include exclusions based on virus exposure.
As a company director or officer, it is also possible to face claims from shareholders asserting that your company failed to take reasonable action in response to the virus, and such action or inaction resulted in your business’s financial loss. For instance, you could be subjected to claims that your business failed to make federally mandated disclosures about its potential vulnerability to the coronavirus outbreak or neglected to develop a sufficient contingency strategy.
If this is the case, your company may be able to seek coverage under a directors and officers insurance plan. These types of policies typically exclude bodily injury claims, but such exclusions should not prohibit coverage for shareholder claims against upper management decisions. Again, whether your unique situation is covered may depend on the specific language of your policy.
Navigating the complex laws surrounding COVID-19 claims can be daunting. Sadly, everything is made even more complicated when insurance companies do everything in their power to deny or undervalue your claim.
If your business has suffered losses due to the coronavirus, the Law Office of Andrew Winston is here for you. We can help you understand your coverage and provide you with guidance through the long, complex process of filing a claim. In these troubling times, having legal counsel that is intimately familiar with South Florida insurance law can make or break your business.