Information for Washington state businesses about coronavirus and its impact on commercial insurance and business operations.
What insurance do I need for my business to be covered for losses due to coronavirus?
To be covered against a business’ loss of revenue due to a pandemic, such as coronavirus, you would need to have purchased an insurance policy, or an endorsement for your policy that covers such a loss before the outbreak started.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to buy this coverage during the pandemic. After the pandemic is over and the market has stabilized, you can contact your insurance agent or company to see if they offer it.
If you need help understanding your policy, contact an insurance professional, like your insurance agent or your insurance company. If you do not have a copy of your policy, ask your agent or insurance company to send you the full policy, including all applicable endorsements and declarations.
NOTE: The Office of the Insurance Commissioner does not have the authority to mandate insurers sell or retroactively cover pandemic coverage or policy endorsements.
What if I already had a business policy that included business interruption or business income coverage? Will it cover my losses?
Business interruption and business income coverage protects your business against losses you encounter when your business operations are suspended due to direct physical loss or damage. An example is if your covered property was damaged by a fire and your business must suspend operations until the covered property is repair or replaced. This type of policy reimburses the revenue you lost while your business was interrupted.
It’s questionable whether your business interruption or business income policy specifically protects against coronavirus. It’s important to read your policy for all exclusions, coverage limits, and deductibles.
Will my business policy cover my business’ loss of revenue because of a government closure due to coronavirus?
There is a clause in most business policies called "Civil Authority," which addresses the situation when government prohibits access to your business. If your policy requires a “covered cause of loss” to be the reason why the civil authority restricted access to your business, your insurance company would need to determine if the coronavirus outbreak is a covered cause of loss. Some business policies do not have this requirement. Please read your policy carefully.
Your insurer’s responsibility if you file a claim
If you file a claim with your insurance company, it must conduct a reasonable investigation. If it denies your claim, it must inform you of the specific language in the policy that denies coverage. If you need more information or have questions, contact your insurance agent or company.
If I have sick employees due to coronavirus and have to temporarily close my business, will my business policy cover me?
Business policies can vary depending on what’s included in your coverage. We recommend you check with your insurance agent or company to see if your policy covers an employee availability due to epidemic or pandemic. Typically business policies cover business closures for events such as fire, a burst pipe, or a windstorm.
How do my employees get covered for being a delivery driver?
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler urged all insurers doing business in Washington to immediately extend automobile insurance coverage for personal delivery drivers to aid people temporarily assigned this duty during the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses are delivering goods and products directly to customers during Gov. Inslee's Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Find out which companies have extended this coverage to temporary delivery drivers.
Small Business Administration and disaster assistance
The U.S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury due to coronavirus.
Small businesses that qualify are encouraged to apply online for a disaster loan (www.sba.gov). If you don't have a online access, call the Small Business Administration at 800-659-2955.
Washington state government resources for businesses
- List of essential businesses under Stay Home, Stay Healthy order (coronavirus.wa.gov)
- Ask the Governor's Office if your business is considered essential (smartsheet.com)
- Unemployment insurance and paid leave for extended absences (esd.wa.gov)
- Resources for Washington State Businesses and Workers Impacted by COVID-19 Coronavirus (governor.wa.gov)
- Washington state coronavirus response (coronavirus.wa.gov)