Insurers across the U.S. are not only receiving a significant amount of backlash from business owners for denying their business interruption claims associated with their COVID-19 losses, but they are also being sued because of it. The Insurance Journal recently reported that two lawsuits were filed in federal court in Illinois naming several plaintiffs who were forced to shut down operations by government authorities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. All had their business interruption claims denied by Society Insurance Company.
In the first lawsuit, Big Onion Tavern Group LLC et al. v. Society Insurance Company (No. 1:20-cv-02005), the plaintiffs are all separate businesses that operate in the Chicago area. In the second lawsuit, Billy Goat Tavern I et al. v. Society Insurance (No. 1:20-cv-2068), there are also several businesses listed in the document, but all do business as Billy Goat Tavern. The source says the two lawsuits are similar to that of the one filed by Thomas Keller, renowned chef and restaurateur, who is based out of Napa Valley, CA. After Keller had his business interruption claim denied, he turned to his insurance lawyer who helped him file a lawsuit against his insurer.
The Insurance Journal says that both the Big Onion and Billy Goat have filed suit in an effort to obtain coverage under their commercial business insurance policy. The companies allege that their policy provides coverage for “losses incurred due to a ‘necessary suspension’ of their operations, including when their businesses are forced to close due to a government order.” Given that Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all non-essential businesses to close, all plaintiffs involved believe their claims should be covered by Society Insurance.
No Exclusions Yet No Coverage
The lawsuit goes on to highlight that the plaintiffs’ insurance policies do not exclude contamination due to communicable diseases and/or viruses. In Big Onion’s lawsuit, it states “If Society Insurance had wanted to exclude pandemic-related losses under the Plaintiffs’ policies — as many other insurers have done in other policies — it easily could have attempted to do so on the front-end with an express exclusion.” The suit claims that because the insurer breached their contract, the plaintiffs are seeking declaratory relief.
Do all business owners in Illinois hold the right to sue their insurer if they deny their business interruption claim for COVID-19 losses?
While anyone can put together a lawsuit, that does not mean it will stand in court. Therefore, if you think your insurer wrongfully denied your business interruption claim for your COVID-19 losses, you should discuss this with a reputable Illinois insurance claims denial attorney before assuming you can file a lawsuit. If you would like help with locating a legal expert in your area, USAttorneys.com can help you with this now.