Business Interruption Claims
Florida residents are aware of the devastation that can come with even a “small” hurricane or tropical storm. The high winds, driving rain, and flooding caused by these extreme weather events can spell doom for small and large businesses alike. After all, if a business must close its doors temporarily after a damaging event, that business’ bills still must be paid. When a business cannot continue its normal operations after sustaining damage in a hurricane, business interruption insurance coverage should kick in and compensate the business owner for the following types of losses:
- revenue lost due to the business’ closure;
- expenses such as rent and utilities; and
- expenses related to operating from a temporary location.
Some policies will cover more than these basic losses associated with a business’ closure. A thorough review of the policy language will verify which losses are and are not covered.
However, making a business interruption insurance claim brings with it many issues that can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the claims process, but which an experienced attorney can quickly address so that the business owner receives full compensation for the claim. Some of the common issues encountered with these claims include:
- disputes regarding the amount of revenue the business generated in the months leading up to the storm and about which accounting method should be used;
- denial of the claim for an uncovered event;
- partially denying claims that should be fully covered;
- undervaluing claimed damages;
- delaying payment of the claim by asking for additional unnecessary paperwork or evidence;
- not returning phone calls or emails; and
- offering settlements contingent on the business owner signing a “full” release when the insurance company is actually required to make supplemental payments.
If you are forced to close your business after a hurricane, be sure to immediately document the damage your business sustains to the greatest extent possible. Many business interruption policies will only provide coverage if the business closes due to an event covered by the policy. For example, if your policy does not cover damage to the building caused by wind, then the policy likely also won’t cover revenue lost by having to close the business due to the wind damage. As a result, documenting what caused your business to close its doors will be extremely helpful when it comes time to make the claim.
Additionally, it’s critical that you gather as much documentation as possible regarding how much revenue your business earned on average in the months and years leading up to the closure. Past income tax returns as well as profit and loss statements can be very helpful in this regard. Moreover, past utility bills, rent invoices, and mortgage payment receipts will help to further verify the value of your claim.
If you have been forced to close your business due to hurricane damage, you can’t afford to delay hiring a lawyer. The advice of the lawyers at Barret Nonni & Homola can make all the difference when navigating the business interruption claims process. Call us at 850-601-1111 or fill out our free consultation form to hear from one of our lawyers today!