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Can business insurance help during the coronavirus?
You're hard-pressed to prove business interruptions, but other coverage is more straightforward.
Many businesses are getting hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic as customers stay at home, local governments force closures and staff get the virus. Business insurance can’t help in many of these cases due to policy limitations. But you might get coverage in special cases or, if that fails, financial help through resources that aren’t insurance-related.
What's in this guide?
- Will my business insurance company let me skip a payment?
- How does business insurance cover the coronavirus?
- Do I need cyber insurance during the coronavirus?
- How can trade credit insurance help?
- When won't business insurance cover the coronavirus?
- Compare business insurance during coronavirus
- What are my options if I'm not covered?
- Bottom line
- Questions about business insurance during the coronavirus
Will my business insurance company let me skip a payment?
Most insurers are supporting businesses through coronavirus-related financial hardship. Many are postponing cancellations and late fees as a blanket measure to all policies until a specific date. In some states like California and Georgia, insurance companies are required to extend grace periods, sometimes up to 60 days.
See how the top companies are responding and, if needed, contact yours for more personalized details.
We’ll continue updating this information as the coronavirus situation evolves. This table was last updated on April 3, 2020.
|Insurance company||Coronavirus response||How to contact|
|AIG||AIG is open for new business applications, and its call centers are open for existing policyholders’ support. The company is dedicated to customer safety and service.|
|Chubb||Chubb is committed to reducing disruptions for clients during the coronavirus.|
Chubb will postpone all policy cancellations or nonrenewals for 60 days for businesses that notify about their inability to make payments. The company will bill for payment but won’t cancel the policy.
|CNA||CNA wants to provide a consistent level of service and availability.|
It is suspending all policy cancellations due to nonpayment and waiving late fees until June 1, 2020. This applies to all property and casualty policies. CNA will continue sending billing statements.
|Liberty Mutual||Liberty Mutual cares about the health and safety of businesses and employees.|
The company is taking requests for premium extensions. If approved, you won’t receive a policy cancellation notice for nonpayment until after the extended date.
Its premium auditors are offering a special audit for businesses to reassess their coverage levels.
|The Hartford||The Hartford is dedicated to providing transparency and helpful resources for businesses.|
This well-known insurer is suspending policy cancellations and late fees until May 1, 2020. It encourages companies up for renewal policies to contact customer service with any concerns about documentation.
At your request, you can get assistance with premium audits to make sure you have the right coverage.
|Travelers||Travelers wants to provide exceptional service without interruptions.|
It is suspending all cancellations, penalties and late fees until May 15, 2020. It’s also offering virtual premium audits to find the best level of coverage during this time.
|Nationwide||This well-known insurer is committed to standing by your side during this time. It’s currently taking requests for financial hardship on a case-by-case basis.|
|Zurich||Zurich hasn’t responded with specific billing details for clients during the coronavirus. It is offering a coronavirus hub of information for dealing with insurance issues during the pandemic.|
How does business insurance cover the coronavirus?
Different types of business policies may or may not cover the business problems you’re facing during the coronavirus. Those problems involve:
1. Business has dropped due to the coronavirus
If your business doors are open but customers aren’t coming, your business interruption policy probably won’t help with lost revenue. For business closures, many policies exclude diseases or environmental factors.
Other named-peril policies list the reasons you can get coverage, but they may not include infectious diseases. Even if your policy doesn’t exclude pandemics, you typically need to prove the disease caused physical damage or losses to your business. With an illness like the coronavirus, that argument is difficult to prove and may need legal help to press the matter.
However, you may have a case if these situations cause you to lose business or close down temporarily:
- Supply chain interruptions — If a supplier lowers or stops deliveries to your business, contingent business interruption policies may protect you. Still, a direct physical loss may have to trigger this coverage.
- Coronavirus cases in your business’s building — If staff or customers enter your buildings with the coronavirus and you have to shut down for cleaning, you might argue that this is a direct physical loss.
- Nearby attractions or businesses closing — If your business relies on customers coming from an entertainment venue, you might claim a loss if those businesses close because of direct exposure to the coronavirus. Examples may include hotels or stores near a theme park. Like government closures, this case may be difficult to prove.
- Open-peril policies — If you bought a policy that covers any peril unless specifically excluded, you could claim coronavirus protection if pandemics or infectious diseases aren’t excluded. But you’ll have to prove a direct physical loss to trigger it.
2. You have to close your business because of government mandates
Similar to lost revenue, your business interruption policy probably won’t cover government-mandated closures. Insurance companies may argue these closures are preventive and didn’t get triggered by physical damage to your business.
However, a few businesses are taking their insurance companies to court for coverage when the local government forces them to close up shop. This situation involves a tricky case that only holds up under the judges’ discretion.
3. You voluntarily closed your business
You won’t get coverage for closing your doors voluntarily, even to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. Business insurance is designed to reimburse you for unforeseen physical damage and losses. If you’re volunteering to suspend business activity, you probably haven’t suffered any direct damage to your business.
4. You have to cancel business events
Your business event might be protected if you cancel due to the coronavirus, as long as there isn’t a specific policy exclusion. The surest way of knowing you’ll get reimbursed is if you bought an add-on for communicable diseases.
A few other instances might trigger coverage even if the coronavirus isn’t spreading through your area. Those instances may include your key speaker or entertainment canceling or if surrounding buildings or public transportation close because of coronavirus cases in your area.
5. Your staff get the coronavirus
If your staff gets the coronavirus while on the job, workers’ compensation may help them recover costs and lost income. Workers’ compensation can pay for medical bills, lost wages based on a percentage of average wages and a death benefit.
However, insurance may only cover the illness for workers with an increased risk of getting the virus, like medical professionals. Also, the coronavirus may be covered by workers’ compensation if the employee can prove they caught the disease on the job.
If your small business isn’t required to get coverage but you’re concerned about coronavirus claims, you can still apply for workers’ compensation.
6. Customers get the coronavirus while interacting with your business
Your business could face legal cases from the coronavirus if customers claim you didn’t take measures to protect them. For example, customers might claim your business couldn’t enforce social distancing inside your store or that you didn’t take extra measures for cleaning and sanitizing. A few types of insurance can help in these scenarios:
- General liability — Your general liability coverage might pay for medical and legal expenses if customers claim doing business with you led to their physical harm. However, some policies exclude epidemics or pandemics specifically.
- Directors and officers liability — This coverage can help when customers claim your managers didn’t take the necessary measures to prevent the virus from spreading or if key leaders didn’t have a contingency plan in place. Those with a financial stake in the business who lost money might recover their losses with this liability insurance.
Do I need cyber insurance during the coronavirus?
Cyber insurance can bring extra business security as more employees work from home on potentially less secure computers or devices. Insurance companies can even help you strengthen your defenses, so your business is less vulnerable to attacks. But even without business insurance, you can take several steps to help employees working from home stay safe, such as working with your IT team to pick the right technology, software and secure communication tools.
Most cyber insurance policies include coverage for security breaches while employees are working remotely. But you’ll have to meet the requirements laid out in your policy like heightened security measures. You can contact your insurance company to make sure remote workers are covered and to find out the requirements.
How can trade credit insurance help?
Trade credit insurance is another type of coverage that’s likely to pay out for coronavirus claims. If a key client can’t pay their outstanding debt for your business’s products, trade credit insurance can cover some of their unpaid bills.
If you don’t have trade credit insurance, policies are still available. However, you might face higher premiums that reflect the turbulent economy. Some insurance companies may stop new applications altogether.
When won’t business insurance cover the coronavirus?
The reasons your insurance company may deny coronavirus claims can include:
- Disease, pollution or environmental factors are specifically excluded in the policy.
- The policy specifies coverage for certain situations only.
- You didn’t experience a direct case of the coronavirus at your business.
- The government forced closure but still allows your business to make deliveries.
- The government enforces sheltering in place, but your business is considered essential.
- You closed your business as a preventive measure to keep the virus from spreading.
- The amount of time you need before reopening doesn’t exceed your policy’s waiting period.
Compare business insurance during coronavirus
What are my options if I’m not covered?
If your business experiences losses because of the coronavirus that aren’t covered by insurance, you can get business financial support through:
- Low-interest business loans
- Small Business Administration disaster loans
- Coronavirus relief programs — Some companies or local governments are funding cash payments to businesses in financial distress. The federal government coronavirus stimulus package may also provide assistance to small businesses.
Your business insurance may not provide protection in many cases unless your business is directly affected by coronavirus cases, such as employees or customers getting sick. However, the types of business insurance that may help businesses the most during the coronavirus pandemic include contingent business interruption, event and trade credit insurance policies.
Questions about business insurance during the coronavirus
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