Business Insurance Claim Lawyers – Frekhtman Associates represent victims of Hurricane Sandy. Call Us at (855) SANDY 911 for a free consultation.
A business interruption claim is when a business suffers loss of income due to a disruption of normal business operations as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The disruption of business operations may be caused by physical damage such as broken store front window due to high wind. Your business may also be interrupted due to a third party’s losses. For example, when a supplier cannot deliver products to your business because that supplier’s warehouse or trucks were damaged in the storm, your business may have what is called contingent business interruption claim. Your business being able to sell the product is contingent or depends upon your supplier being able to deliver the product to your store. But if your supplier’s delivery trucks are underwater and inoperable or if your supplier’s warehouse roof is leaking and the products are been ruined, then this clearly affects your business.
Some insurance policies also cover business interruption due to government action such as shutting down mass transit system. Your insurance coverage should continue for the time your business requires to repair, replace, and or rebuild the damaged property.
Prior to issuing payments, insurers will search for and attempt to use exclusions. Exclusions are paragraphs in the insurance policy the insurers can point to and quote verbatim in a letter to their insureds. The insurance companies will use these provisions to exclude or eliminate their payment for your loss. One common exclusion following Super Storm Sandy is flood damage. It is advantageous for an insurance company to characterize losses as being caused by a flood since often times business property policies exclude floods. However, experienced coverage counsel may be successful in arguing that the storm surge was really caused by winds which pushed and drove the surge. This will be a point of heated contention.
Photographs or videos are important especially if they can help prove that wind caused damages. Statements you make to your insurance claim adjuster are also vital.
Under New Jersey law, the courts have narrowly construed exclusion language stating that an exclusion applies only if it is an “efficient proximate cause” of the damage. Therefore, even if you think an exclusion such as flood applies, there may be arguments to still obtain coverage especially if other causes also contributed to the damage. These are called concurrent causes. If a cause of the loss which is included in the policy is either the first or last step in the chain of causation which leads to the damage, the insured policyholder should usually be afforded coverage. See Puhlovsky v. Rutgers Ins Co (NJ App Div 2012). Hiring a lawyer is therefore important so that you have the best chance of success since precedent case law on this issue is confusing. A business owner is not in the best position to argue or negotiate these points with an insurance company directly. Each business owner is a specialist in his or her discrete business be it a furniture store, a nail salon, or a psychiatrist. These business owners should not be negotiating complicated legal matters with insurance adjusters much like they would not operate on themselves if they needed urgent medical care.
Further, even for the sake of argument, if the business owner’s argument is spot on and correct, the insurance adjuster may still deny his claim and stick to their exclusion denial. Their denial does not have to be ultimately correct. It just has to have some basis. At the end of the long litigation road, perhaps the insurance company will be wrong so they will pay out then which is months or years away. Why should they pay you today if they can pay you years from now ? Remember, insurance companies are for profit businesses looking out for their own best interests. Insurance adjusters are not lawyers either and often dont know the law. The only way to really succeed and obtain payment is to file a lawsuit and get a ruling from a judge. The insurance company will have their lawyers present their arguments regarding upholding the denial while the business owner should be armed with a strong legal team to persuasively present the facts of his or her claim and the supporting case law to bolster the claim. This is often the only way to receive full payment of what you feel you deserve.
Contact Business Insurance Claim Hurricane Sandy Lawyer at F&A for a free consultation. (855) SANDY 911