Businesses may not get what they expected when they bought business interruption insurance to guard against shutdown.
That was the sobering message on Friday from Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) Commissioner David Altmaier to a subgroup of the Governor’s Re-Open Florida Task Force.
Altmaier told the Agriculture, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Management and Professional Services committee that many businesses relying on business interruption policies will be disappointed.
The policies insurance owners bought in case of disaster, he said, doesn’t handle the current COVID-19 crisis.
“All business interruption policies are written differently,” but most do not address a “pandemic such as COVID-19.”
“Policymakers around the world grapple with this issue,” he added, which is an “issue not only in Florida but nationwide.”
Around the country, litigation abounds, and OIR is “closely monitoring” it, amidst the usual challenges.
“In the short term,” Altmaier said, “we’re encouraging insurers to find new ways to do business.”
OIR is looking for other “emergent risks” for the insurance sector, with an eye toward the “impact of litigation related to COVID-19.”
“That is something that will always impact the insurance industry,” he added, joining the call to push for liability exemptions.
Beyond these issues, he spotlighted steps dating back to Mar. 6 to try to remove barriers to testing for COVID-19, which drove insurers to waive cost-sharing for testing, with more than half paying co-pays for treatment through at least June.
Altmaier also noted moves for emergency filling of refills, pushes for insurance companies to address continuity of business plans during this period, and attempts to provide guidance for treatment of policy holders.
Included in the conversation were pleas for payment flexibility so that cancellations and non-renewals are curbed.