Missouri Regulators Urge Ferguson Business Owners to Check Insurance Policies

November 26, 2014

The Missouri Department of Insurance is urging business owners in Ferguson, Mo., to check for coverage under their commercial insurance policies if they have suffered damage in the recent civil unrest.

Many businesses in Ferguson suffered damage during violent protests following the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the killing of unarmed black 18-year-old.

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

The violence that erupted following the announcement appeared to be much worse than protests after August’s shootings, with more than a dozen businesses badly damaged or destroyed, the Associated Press reported.

Several buildings were burned down in Ferguson and demonstrators smashed store windows in downtown St. Louis. More than 80 people were arrested.

Missouri insurance regulators are advising business owners to check to see if their commercial insurance policies provide business income or business interruption coverage in addition to coverage for property damage. The department is also advising impacted business owners to contact their insurance agents or insurance companies immediately.

“We encourage owners of damaged businesses to contact their insurance agent or company immediately,” said department Director John M. Huff. “We also want to let businesses in Ferguson and in the St. Louis region know the state has trained insurance experts standing by, ready to assist them if they have questions or concerns about their insurance or the claims process.”

If the commercial policy provides business income coverage, an affected business might be entitled to reimbursement for lost income, along with ongoing operating expenses, the department said. Business income generally covers financial losses incurred if a business was closed for more than 72 hours and the reason the business closed was because civil authorities restricted access to your business property.

A commercial policy may also provide extra expense coverage, in which case the business owner may be entitled to reimbursement for any extra expenses incurred while the business was closed, the department said.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered additional members of the National Guard to Ferguson, where violent protests broke out following the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.

Nixon was widely criticized for not sending enough national guardsmen to Ferguson in advance of the announcement of the grand jury’s decision.

There were about 25 fires set overnight on Nov. 24 and 10 cars burned at a dealership, Ferguson Assistant Fire Chief Steve Fair told local media. A pizza shop, beauty supply store and two auto parts stores were among those burned.

Associated Press reports contributed to this story.

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