Businesses, insurers want federal backstop to interruption insurance

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Brick-and-mortar retailers are fighting for survival in this pandemic economy, and some just aren’t making it.

On Thursday, Century 21 Stores, a clothing chain mostly in the Northeast, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company said the pandemic played a role, but it also blamed its insurance company.

Century 21 didn’t mince words, saying its insurers had “turned their backs on us at this most critical time.” The company says that despite having business interruption insurance, when business was interrupted due to COVID-19, claims weren’t paid out.

In this case, like many others around the country, insurers say they don’t have to. 

“The insurance industry charges for a policy based on the risks,” said Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute, which represents the industry. “Now, because it’s a pandemic, it was never taken into the the rates when an insurance company provided that kind of coverage. So if you’re not paying for that, imagine the amount of loss the insurance industry would pay.”

In court fights all over the country, the industry is pointing to clauses and exclusions in contracts arguing the industry isn’t obligated to, nor can afford to, …

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