There are so many instances where you have to deal with an insurance company. One of those that’s taking center stage for a lot of people, particularly in places like New York City, is when your business is damaged by civil unrest or riots.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just announced that if your business was impacted by looting, the government is requiring insurers to accept photos as a reasonable proof of loss so that businesses don’t have to wait for police reports.
According to Mirman Lawyers, as is the case with something like a personal injury claim, with these insurance claims there are also different statutes of limitations. There are varying rules depending on the type of case being dealt with, so first and foremost, if your business was damaged due to the recent civil unrest and riots, make sure you act quickly.
What else should you know, aside from how important the statute of limitations can be?
Does Insurance Even Cover Rioting and Looting?
While we most associate the recent events with cities like Minneapolis and New York, rioting and looting have been occurring across the country, even in smaller cities and towns.
Does your business insurance provide coverage?
According to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the answer is that it does, in many cases.
Riots and riots relating to strikes are named perils in many property policies.
For the most part, your business insurance policy should cover damage to your property and what’s inside when the cause of the damage is from vandalism, civil issues, riots, and fires.
If you have a standard business policy, it should also cover loss of income if that loss is related to the physical damage of your property caused by a riot or civil unrest.
Even so, every insurance policy is different.
The Coronavirus Challenge
The riots and civil situations happening right now couldn’t have come at a worse time for many business owners.
They’ve been facing months of closures due to the coronavirus. That could be challenging when it comes to how insurances decide how they’ll compensate them for their losses as well.
What Steps Should You Take?
As a business owner, you should first realize that your insurance company might not seem cooperative at first, and you may have to push to get them to recognize that your losses relating to riots and unrest are in fact covered.
Again, remember that almost all commercial and business property policies cover these situations.
This specifically might include damage to your windows, plate glass, light fixtures, and the contents of the building, including office supplies and furniture that’s been stolen or damaged.
You should contact your insurance company right away, no matter what.
You should also be familiar with your business owners’ policy if you have one. A business owners’ policy includes property, liability, and business interruption coverage if you’re a small to midsized business.
You should take photos right away, and then once you’ve done that, you can start cleaning up your business.
For any repairs or remediation work you do, keep your receipts. Then, you can contact your agent and file your claim.
Your insurer is going to want to see that you can show a detailed proof of loss. You should track all of your damages, lost income, and expenses. As a policyholder, you may also need to show that you’ve taken reasonable steps to reduce damage, such as boarding up your windows.
Specific documents your insurer may want to see include income tax returns, profit and loss statements, sales records, rent and mortgage statements, and payroll records.
For your business loss calculation, your coverage will usually include net income and the cost to continue normal operations.
Some Other Things to Know
If a business vehicle is damaged in a riot, you may have coverage under your auto policy, if you have comprehensive coverage. If you opted for comprehensive coverage, it should provide reimbursement for vehicle damage and the contents of the vehicle caused by riot, vandalism, fire, or falling objects.
If you weren’t able to access your business because of something like a curfew, which many cities have put in place, you might be able to receive coverage under your business interruption policy too.
The best thing you can do is document everything, take reasonable steps that are within your power to protect your business, and then get in touch with your insurance agent right away.