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Policies will cover most damage

Policies will cover most damage


Policies will cover most damage

Kelly Tyko
USA TODAYPublished 3:07 PM EDT Jun 9, 2020Businesses, homes and cars damaged or vandalized in the uprisings and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis will be covered by most insurance policies.With few exceptions, auto, business and homeowner insurance policies usually cover property damage caused by these kinds of incidents, industry experts told USA TODAY.“I would expect anyone that has actual, physical damage to their property should be making a claim now,” said Kim Winter, an attorney who leads Lathrop GPM’s insurance recovery and counseling practice group. “We recommend that they make a claim sooner rather than later, even if they don’t know what all of their damages are yet.”Save better, spend better:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up hereGeorge Floyd protests: How to avoid disinformation and misinformation on social mediaProtesters have been gathering to rally against racial inequality and police brutality after Floyd’s death. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as the unarmed, handcuffed black man gasped that he couldn’t breathe. Court papers show Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd for two minutes after another officer couldn’t detect a pulse on him. Chauvin, who has now been fired, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and other charges in the case. His bail has been set at $1.25 million.Most of the protestors were peaceful, but in some cities including Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, individuals and groups resorted to arson, violence, vandalism and burglarized businesses. The damage nationwide could end up being one of the costliest U.S. civil disorders, said Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute.The nation’s highest recorded financial damages due to civil disorder stems from the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles Police Department officers for using excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King. The estimated loss was $735 million or $1.4 billion adjusted in 2020 dollars, according to data from Property Claim Services, a Verisk Analytics company. It could take months to assess the financial toll related to most recent unrest. What’s covered by insuranceSmall business insurance policies generally cover damage to windows, doors, light fixtures and contents including furniture, office supplies, machinery and computers, plus the cost of boarding up windows and securing the business.Damage to cars is covered under auto insurance policies, which include comprehensive coverage.Paul Blume, senior vice president, state government and member relations for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, said insurers are making “every effort is being made to assure prompt assessments and payments for covered claims.”“We can reassure customers that most standard insurance policies for business owners and homeowners provide coverage for property losses related to civil unrest,” Blume said in a statement.Pandemic-related losses not coveredBusinesses also might have business-interruption insurance, which covers them if they’re forced to suspend operations or limit hours. Those provisions are meant to cover lost income during that period.Damages associated with the recent uprisings come at a time when some people also may have experienced losses connected to COVID-19. The insurance industry has said business interruptions related to COVID-19 won’t be covered within claims connected to civil unrest. In some cases to qualify for business interruption coverage, a business has to have damage, and in most cases, the business would have had to have been open — or have reopened following the COVID-19 lockdowns, Worters said.Financial assistance programsSpecific types of coverage and limits will vary depending on the policy. Deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs may still apply.State and local governments, as well as private groups, are setting up relief funds to help businesses. Some are also turning to crowdsourcing setting up GoFundMe fundraisers.New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a Small Business Emergency Grant Program that will give small businesses up to $10,000 if they were impacted by looting and experienced damage to their storefronts.“The only way we will move forward and get small businesses back on their feet is by coming together as a community,” de Blasio said in a news release. “Our small businesses are not going anywhere. They are strong and resilient and they will be back, and we are here to help them do that.”Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said last week that the city is dedicating at least $10 million to support small businesses and is working with philanthropies and corporations for the “Together Now: Chicago’s Fund to Rebuild Our Neighborhoods.”Filing insurance claims for civil unrestHere are tips on how to expedite the recovery process for property damage claims from the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.Report your claim promptly: It is very important for policyholders to report their claims to their insurer as soon as possible, so the claims handling process can begin. Prevent further damage: Check for safety hazards and when it is safe to do so. Take steps such as boarding up broken windows or making other temporary repairs to prevent further property damage. Do not attempt to make permanent repairs on your business until an insurance adjuster has inspected the property.Save receipts: Policyholders should keep receipts for expenses incurred for any repairs that are made on a temporary basis to protect the property from further damage or to restore operations.Document the damage: Take pictures or video of the damage and preserve any property that may have been destroyed so the insurance adjuster can look at the damaged property. Attach documentation with claims reports.Only work with reliable professional repair contractors: Ask for and verify references and contact local police, chambers of commerce, or Better Business Bureaus for complaint information involving a contractor. Your insurance company may also have referral options for contractors.Hire a professional cleaning service for your place of business: If you or your employees are involved in clean-up efforts, use safety items like proper eyewear, gloves, hardhats, dust masks, and respirators.Social distancing claim accommodations: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, insurers have adopted “virtual” adjusting tools that can be used in the claims handling process and protect the policyholder and the insurer’s staff from the risk of exposure to COVID-19. That said, there are some claims where an in-person inspection will be necessary while observing appropriate social distancing protocols. Read your policy: Business interruption coverage can vary so it is important to read your policy and talk with your agent, broker, or insurer to ensure you understand your policy coverages.Contributing: Mark Williams, The Columbus DispatchFollow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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