Business Interruption coverage protects the potential earnings of the insured business while its operations are suspended as a result of damage caused by a covered peril. The period of restoration has a direct effect on the actual loss suffered. A typical definition in most ISO forms of the “period of restoration” is:
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The effort to mitigate the damage, gather supporting documents, and present an insurance claim, can for many policyholders prove to be the toughest part of the recovery process. After suffering a loss or business interruption, the main priority of most business owners is restoring their businesses or premises as soon as possible – not preparing an insurance claim. While their goal is to achieve the utmost recovery in the shortest period of time, the loss adjustment process can be long and grueling.
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Business interruption coverage is very valuable to many policyholders in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Florida business owners may seek coverage under their commercial insurance policies for business interruption, which indemnifies them for lost earnings and expenses if their businesses are partially or totally interrupted as a result of Hurricane Michael. Business interruption coverage is intended to protect the potential earnings of the insured business. Its purpose is “to do for the insured…just what the business itself would have done if no interruption had occurred—no more.”1
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Business interruption coverage provides protection against loss of income when a business suffers property damage from an insured peril (e.g., fire, water loss) that interrupts the operation of the business.1 A typical business interruption policy form provides that the insurer will pay the actual loss of business income the insured sustains during the necessary suspension of its operations during the “period of restoration.”2
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Merlin Law Group attorney Corey Harris asked me, “do you know of a case that stands for the proposition that when estimating the period of restoration, do you consider the amount of time needed for adjustment of the claim?” My quick response was “with any construction project, financing of the project is a time element needed for consideration. If the insurance is supposed to pay for the financing as most insurance companies promise, then it should be a consideration. I think we wrote about this in our property insurance blog.”


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Under New York law, certain coverage disputes may not prevent appraisal. You may have heard the general rule that issues involving coverage disputes under an insurance policy are purely legal issues that should not be determined by an appraisal panel. Appraisal in the property insurance context is meant to resolve a disagreement over the amount of loss for which the insurance carrier is responsible. This seemingly clear rule becomes murky when the parties disagree on its application to the facts of the loss at hand.


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Hundreds of thousands of businesses are still struggling to repair the damages caused by Super Storm Sandy. In New York, claimants will be told that their policies only cover business income losses during the period of time that it would take a “reasonable business” to return to its pre loss operational performance and that repairs shouldn’t take this long. The measuring stick in New York, however, is not as rigid and it considers the actual facts and circumstances that affect the rebuilding or repair efforts.


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Business interruption claims are typically evaluated in two phases. Claim professionals will first determine the period of indemnity (a.k.a., period of restoration) and then measure the loss of income by reviewing the business’ income and expense trends and future projection charts.


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“Lost time is never found again”– Benjamin Franklin

Business income coverage is supposed to protect a business’ net income and operating expenses while its operations are suspended as a result of loss or damage caused by a covered peril. An unexpected interruption of productivity for a period time can be devastating for a business. And because the period of income recovery after a loss is governed by the concept of time, businesses should always have a contingency plan to maintain continuity in the event of a loss and not rely solely on the expectation of recovery from an insurance claim. Time is an illusion humans created so our simple brains could understand that not everything happens at once. Our brains perceive and value time differently – disagreements will always abound over this concept. If insurance contracts do not set forth clear definitions governing this type of time-element coverage, business income claims could be as mysterious as the concept of time itself.


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