Restaurant owners along with many other business owners who were forced to shut down to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus are suffering greatly and looking for any relief they can get. While some are requesting that their lenders defer loan payments, others are filing business interruption claims with their insurer. Thomas Keller, a renowned restaurateur and chef who is based in California but also has locations in New York, was one to turn to his insurer for help.
After Keller filed a business interruption claim with his insurance carrier, Hartford Fire Insurance Company, he was told that his claim was denied because the Hartford said “there were no dangerous conditions at the chef’s restaurant” [Source: Restaurant Hospitality]. Keller immediately turned to his insurance attorney for help.
Restaurant Hospitality reported that Keller’s lawyer filed for a “declaratory judgment on behalf of Keller’s business interruption insurance policy against Hartford Fire Insurance Company” in the Superior Court of California, County of Napa. The lawsuit “requests that the court make a legally binding decision on whether Keller’s policy with Hartford allows him to recover business losses incurred in connection with the viral outbreak.” Keller’s lawyer stated that the insurance industry is “pushing out deceptive propaganda that the virus does not cause a dangerous condition to property” to “avoid payments for a civil authority shut down.”
According to Keller, the restaurant industry is “the largest private sector employer in America—it’s a chosen profession employing more than 15.6 million Americans and contributes $1 trillion to the economy.” He explained that “this entire sector is crippled by a nationwide public health shutdown impacting countless livelihoods.” Keller said that “we need insurance companies to do the right thing and save millions of jobs.”
The source went on to share the viewpoint from an insurance attorney who practices in litigation against insurance companies and lenders. This is what he had to say regarding the denial of business interruption insurance claims: “We can assume insurers will act, as they always do, by using their deny-and-delay bullying tactics with small businesses teetering on the edge of survival. Most just give up and go away. Insurance companies count on that and try a lowball settlement on the rest.”
Did you file a business interruption insurance claim in California only to have it denied?
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