This reminds me of a well-known phrase my mother used to say to ensure I knew I could never get away with well-organized mischief without her knowing. The saying goes: “You can’t pull the wool over the wool puller’s eyes.” Many carriers try their darndest to do just that: pull the wool over their own policyholders’ eyes without raising an eyebrow. Not that policyholders are the wool pullers, but you catch my drift.
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Our client owns a large food market. Last summer, it burned down. The client submitted a claim under his business insurance policy from Farmers. The insurance policy included several different types of coverage, such as Business Property, Business Income, Extra Expense, and more. The insured had insufficient insurance limits under his Business Property to replace everything needed to reopen the market. Thus, he sought coverage for those items under Extra Expense coverage. By the plain and clear terms of the policy, these items were also covered under Extra Expense. But Farmers found an excuse to wrongfully deny the claim in a textbook example of how not to interpret and apply insurance policies in California.
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On August 22, 2013, a fire destroyed an office building where one tenant, Bernstein Liebhard LLP, was a mass tort law practice. The firm’s mass tort practice was shut down for a year. The insured law firm sued Sentinel Insurance Company Limited for $27 million arising from lost income from several hundred mass tort clients who failed to retain the firm during the 12-month period after the fire.
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The U.S. Virgin Islands holds a special place in my family’s heart. Nothing makes my wife Ashley and I happier than a sail full of trade winds carrying us to the next secluded cove or rowdy beach bar. While most of the national media focused on Hurricane Irma’s trek toward Florida, it is now clear that St. Thomas and St. John took the brunt of the storm while still a Category 5.
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In addition to covering property damage, most first-party commercial insurance policies offer business interruption coverage. Business interruption coverage typically has two different built in coverages: business income and extra expense. Both are intended to assist businesses in the event a covered peril damages business property and impacts business operations.
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When calculating a business income loss, it is important to look at the company as a whole and to look at individual segments of the business. Under a standard loss calculation where the projected “but for” revenues were considered by deducting the revenues from sales of substitute products and applying a profit factor to the loss incremental revenue, the business revenue may not show a numerical decrease. At first blush, one could argue that there was not a loss, because the gross profits were higher pre-loss than post loss. However, a true loss can be masked in instances where a loss impacts one portion of the business but sales or business income in another segment of the business increases.


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Farm stand fresh vegetables and sweet and savory baked goods can make any day better. Verrill Farms had been in the produce and bakery industry in Concord, Massachusetts, for decades but before you could buy deli sandwiches or take home fresh heirloom tomatoes, Verrill Farms was a daily farm started in 1918.

The farm was passed down for generations and as the years passed the business grew. However, “[o]n September 20, 2008, Verrill Farms suffered a fire loss to its farm store. Within two days of the fire, Verrill Farms reopened its business at alternate locations at reduced capacity. Within another month, the business had resumed nearly full capacity in temporary facilities at nearby locations. After the fire and during the process of restarting the business at the alternate locations, no employees were laid off. All employees who remained on the payroll were involved in operations that allowed Verrill Farms to maintain its business and generate income.”


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When you have an insurance claim for a business loss, when a covered peril has interrupted business to a point there has been a landslide in business value or the doors are closed completely, you need to carry out a business valuation. Interestingly some of the best court cases discussing proper business valuation are not for property damage cases but other types of losses. Situations for business valuations and the methods used can come up in other types of cases and are helpful in our research.


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