Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C. located in Chicago, Downers Grove, and Barrington, Illinois is investigating claims for Illinois businesses that have been shuttered or curtailed due to COVID-19 Coronavirus civil authority orders. On Sunday, March 15, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive proclamation ordering all Illinois bars and restaurants to close to in-dining customers. Although these companies can still stay open and cater to carry-out and delivery customers, there is no question many restaurants and bars will suffer potentially cataclysmic losses. It is in situations like this, when paying all of those insurance premiums, could pay off.
Most businesses have some form of commercial property insurance coverage or some other policy that may cover losses attributable to business interruption due to civil authority orders. These policies are usually riddled with exceptions and the language of each policy is the determining factor here. Insurance carriers will undoubtedly rely on various exclusionary language to deny claims outright. However, depending on the language of your policy, your business could have a viable claim against the insurer for damages in connection with the closure of your business due to a civil authority order. What Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot did on Sunday, effective immediately, to bars and restaurants across the state of Illinois and City of Chicago, constitutes civil authority orders.
It is situations like this current crisis where insurance companies should step up and pay the claims of those businesses that had civil authority order business interruption protection. However, insurance companies don’t get their names on all of those tall buildings downtown because they write checks readily. In order to impose the obligations of your insurance coverage on your insurance carrier, you will need a lawyer to file a formal demand and likely a lawsuit for a declaratory judgment. What this means is, the business owner, the insured, files a complaint in court against the insurance company, the insurer, seeking a declaration from the court that the losses at issue are covered by the terms of the insurance policy. This is not a quick fix, and could take considerable time especially in Cook County. But if you have business interruption protection, it would certainly be worth a shot. It is definitely time to dig up all of those insurance policies and see what protections your business has been paying for.