Insurers wrongfully denying businesses pandemic relief, says lawyer

Insurers wrongfully denying businesses pandemic relief, says lawyer
WatchInsurance companies promise they'll have their policy holder's backs when things go terribly wrong. But for some Vancouver Island businesses, the pandemic is proving insurance companies may not be there when they are needed most.

Tao Nguyen is happy to be back making sushi after COVID-19 forced his business Chikara Sushi to close their doors for two months.

“It’s been very frustrating, but I don’t have control over that,” said Nguyen.

His sushi shop is barely hanging on.

“The business [is] going down for all of us. I hope it’s going to work,” said Nguyen.

Chikara Sushi is facing $40,000 is losses, and are only open right now because of a kind landlord, and supports from the government.

So Nguyen, who pays insurance to cover something like this, made a claim.

But he was denied by his insurer.

“There is nothing in the insurance policy that covers wages lost due to a pandemic,” said Megson Fitzpatrick Insurance in an email back to Nguyen.

But Nguyen’s insurance policy says otherwise.

“This policy insures up to a limit of $25,000 loss…resulting from interruption of or interference with the business carried on by the insured at the premises as a direct result of:

a) an outbreak of a notifiable human infectious or contagious disease within 20 kilometers of the premises.”

And lawyers say that’s all the proof they need.

“That covers exactly this type of situation,” said David Klein, managing partner at Klein Lawyers in Vancouver.

“These are the kinds of events that people purchase their coverage for.”

Klein went on to say insurance companies all over British Columbia, Canada, even globally, are wrongfully denying businesses the insurance they paid for.

“The tragedy compounding upon tragedy is that insurers are denying coverage. We’ve been contacted by dozens of business owners who have put in claims and those claims are being wrongfully denied,” said Klein, before adding there’s no excuse for many businesses being unfairly denied coverage in this pandemic.

“[Insurers are] sitting on billions of dollars in reserves that are meant to cover exactly this type of event.”

Meanwhile, Megson Fitzpatrick Insurance says they’re doing the best they can.

“We have had several COVID-related claims reported to us and we are doing everything we can to find positive outcomes for our clients,” the insurance company told CHEK News in a statement.

But over at Klein Lawers, they’re preparing dozens of lawsuits and multiple class-action lawsuits to soon file against insurers, for wrongfully denying claims from businesses.

“You do have to be very careful in how you word your claim. You don’t want to trigger wording that will create an exclusion. There are some policies for example, that have ‘virus’ exclusions. You don’t want to put something in your notice letter that talks about viruses in that situation,” said Klein.

Meanwhile, for Nguyen, $25,000 is a lot of money to help keep him afloat as he faces a limited reopening and as a result, limited revenue.

“That would be the best relief for me, and also for somebody else too. It’s not just myself but all the business out there has the same problem,” said Nguyen.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!