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Insurance and the COVID-19 Virus

Apr 30, 2020 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
Never in our lifetime have changes in our personal and community lives been so readily apparent as they have been since the onset of this coronavirus pandemic. From our insurance agency in Bellingham, here is a brief overview of issues we have confronted of late.

Business clients have called us to ask if “business interruption”coverage is included in their business owner policy and if it would apply. Business interruption coverage is often included routinely in business insurance policies to cover fixed costs that can’t be paid after a casualty loss at the business location. Typically covered casualty losses would include fire, smoke, water, vandalism and power failure. 

In cases such as those just mentioned, the business insurance policy would pay for the resulting damage and offer some money to the business owner to pay fixed costs, which continue on but can’t be paid due to the casualty loss.  Unfortunately for our business owners, the reason they are closing or barely scraping by isn’t due to a casualty loss at their insured location as spelled out in the policy. Their business is suffering because of an indirect, non-casualty reason beyond their control. 

One of our non-profit clients purchased a six-month liability insurance policy as required by all groups that use public places or places such as schools.  No sooner did their check clear than town and state officials outlawed public gatherings. Given these unique circumstances, our client asked if anything could be done, and the insurer agreed to extend coverage for an additional three months at no charge.
Another one of our clients operates a restaurant-tavern that is now locked up tight. I suggested that we cancel their very expensive liquor liability insurance coverage immediately, thereby cutting their costs. We can and will resume coverage when they are allowed to reopen. 

Local car dealerships are prohibited from opening their showrooms to the public, so car and truck sales have come to a screeching halt, if you’ll pardon my pun. The RMV is not allowing walk-in service. The RMV now requires you to schedule an appointment in advance in Worcester or one of their few other open offices.  

All of the auto insurance carriers we use are giving partial rebates on auto insurance policies and are working with our clients to help give extensions or reduced payments as best they can.  As an agent, we don’t have authority to adjust payments for you, but we can help instruct you what to do.     

As to our own office and workspace, we are still working Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm, using phone, fax and email, but we are prohibiting walk-in traffic for the safety of all concerned. Stay safe, everyone. 

 This article was submitted by Dick Ostrander of Ostrander Insurance ( Dick can be reached at [email protected] or 508-966-1116.

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