REPRESENTATION FOR THE BUSINESS OWNER
We will advise you of your rights an an insured under the provisions of your insurance policy. We will advise and assist you in all aspects of Business Interruption and Loss of Income claims and any additional coverage’s that you may be entitled to. We know that the company’s position is to pay as little as possible and try to deny claims. You have paid your premiums faithfully and you deserve to collect on your losses. Our goal at Property Damage Adjusters is to get you the maximum amount you are entitled to under the policy. We have 30 years experience in adjusting insurance claims. We are here to represent you and protect your interests in your business and make this experience as worry free as possible.
If you have any questions, please contact us. Thank you for considering us and I am looking forward to representing you.
OUR FEE IS BASED ON THE AMOUNT WE COLLECT FOR YOU. IF WE DO NOT COLLECT, YOU OWE US NOTHING.
DID YOU KNOW?
Court decisions support the conclusion that actual or threatened corona virus contamination at or near insured property constitutes physical loss or damage triggering business interruption coverage.
- State and local orders impairing access to insured property on account of the threat of COVID-19 or actual contamination, may trigger civil authority coverage under property policies.
- Exclusions that insurers refer to as “standard form” virus exclusions often do not exclude viruses at all.
The Trigger: Physical Loss or Damage to Property
Commercial property insurance generally covers “physical loss or damage to property,” as well as resulting “time element” or business interruption losses. Therefore, business interruption coverage is typically dependent on a finding of physical loss or damage. And in many cases, particularly those involving business closures or disruptions resulting from a pandemic, the business interruption coverage may be more important, financially, than coverage for any cost of repairing property.
Importantly, the “physical loss or damage” that triggers both property and business interruption coverage is not confined to the physical destruction of property, such as experienced in a fire or earthquake. The presence of a contaminant, whether a chemical constituent or a contagion such as COVID-19, may constitute insured physical loss or damage to property, and therefore may trigger coverage for resulting economic losses. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that COVID-19 can survive for days on surfaces normally considered inhospitable to viruses, such as doorknobs, faucets, and other hard surfaces in buildings. Such loss or damage to the insured’s own property may be sufficient to trigger business interruption coverage’s.
Insurance policies use the phrase “physical loss or damage” and similar variations to provide coverage for either “loss” or “damage.” This phrase has been broadly interpreted to mean more than, for example, the sort of structural damage that would result from a fire. It has also been interpreted to include conditions that make the property unusable, such as smoke from a fire somewhere else. And once coverage is triggered for physical loss or damage, property policies also cover resulting business interruption.
Courts have widely held that contamination is a form of physical loss or damage if it impairs the use of the insured property. As one federal court explained: “The majority of cases appear to support [the] position that physical damage to the property is not necessary, at least where the building in question has been rendered unusable by physical forces.” A federal appeals court held that a building contaminated with asbestos fibers suffered “physical loss or damage” triggering property coverage. While the mere installation of asbestos was not loss or damage, the court found that the presence or imminent threat of a release of asbestos would “eliminate or destroy” the function of the building, making the structure “useless or uninhabitable.” Similar decisions finding that the presence of materials such as gas fumes, e-coli bacteria and smoke caused physical loss or damage to property. The fact that the term “physical damage” is capable of at least two different reasonable interpretations convinces us that it is ambiguous. And well-established precedent teaches that such an ambiguous provision must be construed favorably to the insured. The saturation of an insured dwelling by methamphetamine fumes constituted a physical loss . Contamination of a well with e-coli would render property useless or uninhabitable and therefore constitute covered physical loss or damage The smoke that infiltrated a theater caused direct property loss or damage by causing the property to be uninhabitable and unusable for its intended purpose.
Insurers are showing a sort of “flat earth” mentality, arguing that if you can’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. Recent experience teaches us that such thinking is not only wrong, but highly dangerous. The presence of an infectious disease, or even an infected person, can render property uninhabitable. Once that loss or damage is shown, property damage coverage applies.
Besides business interruption and civil authority coverage’s, property policies often add coverage for “contingent business interruption,” decontamination expense, losses by communicable diseases, and other features that can be specific to a given policyholder’s industry. Such coverage’s highlight the impropriety of the insurance industry’s blanket messaging that COVID-19 losses are not covered.