Before he could even file a claim with his insurance company, a Port Charlotte dentist said his agent indicated that his income loss from pandemic shutdowns was not going to be covered under the terms of his policy.
“Essentially they said no this particular insurance company doesn’t cover pandemics and neither does any dental insurance policy that they know of. In other words, nobody’s getting it,” said Dr. David Rowe.
With no help from a payroll protection loan and no help from the small business administration, he had to dig into his own savings to keep his staff employed.
Dr. David Rowe said seven weeks of only seeing emergency patients ended up costing him around $285,000 out of savings.
Attorneys for Morgan and Morgan feel business owners like Rowe should be able to recoup those types of losses by filing a business interruption or loss claim with their insurance companies.
Mike Morgan said the insurance industry has been trying to dissuade its customers from filing claims.
“We’ve heard a consistent drone beat that says there is no coverage for this type of loss, most policies if not all policies are going to exclude it and that’s simply not true. It’s not the intentions of these policies,” said Morgan.
The Insurance Information Institute produced fact sheets that explain why the industry does not cover pandemics as a covered loss.
The industry stance is that business interruption policies generally require the losses to be caused by physical damage to the property.
The III facts sheets claim that retroactively applying payments to policies that were not meant to cover the loss of income created by pandemic shutdowns would deplete money set aside to cover natural disasters.
“We don’t want small businesses to be distracted by litigation. Litigation is not going to be productive. It will not provide the solutions that we need at this time,” said III’s CEO Sean Kevelighan.
But attorneys for Morgan and Morgan said the insurance industry is incorrectly interpreting the meaning of physical loss.
“If you enjoy your business as a restaurant or a beauty shop or pilates studio and you can no longer use it for that, then you have lost the use. You have direct physical loss due to the loss of use of your property as it was intended,” said Mark Nation, an Orlando-based attorney who heads up Morgan and Morgan’s insurance dispute division.
Nation said case law requires a broad interpretation of what is covered under insurance policies and a narrow interpretation of what is excluded.
So far, Dr. Rowe has not filed a claim with his insurance company or hired an attorney.