A Chicago tavern that was closed since March 16 due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois filed a lawsuit against an insurance company for refusing to pay out a claim under the tavern’s “business interruption” policy.
Attorneys for Maillard Tavern said during a video news conference that the actions by Wisconsin-based Society Insurance are part of a pattern by insurance companies nationwide of denying any and all such claims and arguing the policies do not cover business losses caused by a pandemic.
“Maillard Tavern made a claim. Society Insurance Co. denied it, although they accepted the premium payment for it,” Antonio Romanucci, one of the attorneys handling the case, said. “Instead, the insurance industry as a whole is blanketly refusing to honor business interruption claims.”
The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks an unspecified amount of damages to be determined by an appraisal, and it asks the court to appoint an independent “umpire” if appraisers from the two sides cannot agree on an amount.
The case is the first one of its type in Illinois stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak, but attorneys said they expect there will be many more, and there have been similar suits filed in other states.
Business interruption policies are a standard type of business insurance that provide coverage when a business is forced to close, or its operations are severely limited, through no fault of the business. Many policies exclude certain types of events, including pandemics, but attorneys for Maillard Tavern say the company’s policy was an “all-risk” policy with no exclusions.