Chicago looting leaves businesses hoping insurance will cover damage, loss, repairs

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many businesses that were just getting ready to reopen after the lockdown may now be delayed as they figure out how to recover and repair from severe damage from looters.

It will be a challenge for some businesses as they try to quickly make repairs and file insurance claims. Not all stores and restaurants may have the insurance to get them back in business.

"Really just completely devastated," said Rosa Escareno, the Commissioner of Chicago's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) said as she choked up at Monday's mayoral press conference. "Excuse me...Many workers so we're hoping to come back to work. As we reopen in our business community, and I'm a little bit emotional because we were so working so hard to be open this week."

Escareno explained how challenging the recovery process is going to be for businesses struck by looters.

"These are families that rely on these jobs that corner store that local shoe shop that local, a motor vehicle shop that has now been completely gutted," she said.

One small business ransacked was a clothing store in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The owner and neighboring business owners told an ABC 7 producer that the clothing store owner only had liability insurance, which does not cover his property. The lack of insurance a hurdle for many.

"I work with over 200 businesses so I've probably gotten 45 emails just this morning," said Stacey Pitts Caldwell, who oversees the small business development center at The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. "They're asking about the ins and outs and how to approach it."

Pitts Caldwell told the I-Team that business owners may have also let insurance lapse due to COVID-19, that there are private relief funds starting and hope that more relief can come if a disaster is declared. To see if your business qualifies for help for a relief fund, visit formyblock.org

Janet Ruiz, the Director of Strategic Communications at the Insurance Information Institute said the majority of business insurance policies should cover the looting.

"Businesses should check to see what they did buy and the easiest way is to call their insurance company," Ruiz said. "Most small biz owners do buy a package that includes liability, physical damage, riot and civil commotion is covered loss, so they will be insured for this event."

Ruiz said in most cases broken windows should be covered by a landlord's insurance. However, that's not the case if the business owns the building. That, of course, won't help small business owners who did not have insurance to cover merchandise and the inside of their stores.

FULL STATEMENT FROM THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE
As businesses impacted by looting and vandalism are assessing damages, owners should review their Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance policies for specific terms and conditions of coverage. Your insurance agent should be able to answer questions regarding what your policy covers, and you may also want to visit the company's website for information. If you believe that your insurance company is not honoring your policy, you can submit a complaint on the Illinois Department of Insurance website, and our team will review it. For help understanding the complaint process, visit: https://insurance.illinois.gov/Complaints/UnderstandComplaintProcess.html. An online complaint can be filed here: https://mc.insurance.illinois.gov/messagecenter.nsf
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