The Town of Basalt has asked the Colorado legislature to require insurance companies to reimburse small businesses for losses due to COVID-19. That's if those restaurants had “business interruption insurance.” It’s a type of property or casualty insurance required by most landlords that covers income lost to an event, like a fire or storm.
“If we can get our Colorado legislature to move, that would be a tremendous victory,” Basalt Town Council member Bill Infante emphasized.
Infante said the council voted on the letter after learning from local restaurants that their business interruption claims were being denied by insurance companies because of an exclusion added to most policies in 2006 that said income lost due to a virus wouldn't be covered.
“We are appealing to you to follow the lead of other state lawmakers and regulators who are pressuring insurers to go beyond the legal language of policies to get cash to Coloradans who face mounting losses resulting from the forced shutdowns,” the council’s letter said.
Infante said the proposal was modeled on a handful of states, including New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts and New York, that are considering legislation to force insurers to cover COVID-19 related business interruption losses.
“We're hopeful that this will influence our state to take a similar position with regard to honoring the insurance claims that have been filed by our restaurants and other small businesses," Infante said.
The letter was addressed to state and federal representatives including Colorado Governor Jared Polis and U.S. Senators Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner.
“We are anxious to defend the interests of all of our small businesses,” Infante said. “We hope that this effort will help pave the way.”
Infante said they’ve heard back from state representative Dylan Roberts, who acknowledged that he’s been working on the issue and it’s on his radar.