Updated: May 14, 2020
am a property and casualty insurance agent in Naperville, Illinois. I specialize in insuring small businesses. I have insured small businesses in every segment of the industry over the last 30 years of my insurance career. There is an influx of articles being written on COVID-19 as to how it spreads, how it impacts individual health, as well as its detrimental effects on society. My primary focus is to speak on behalf of small businesses that are suffering from the devastating blow brought on by COVID-19. Small businesses surround us. We see, interact, and depend on this segment of our economy in our daily lives. Such businesses include hair salons, dry cleaners, restaurants, gas stations, clothing stores, dental offices, and hotels, etc. Many small franchised restaurants, as well as Mom-and-Pop shops, are in shopping strips with no drive-through. These businesses have come to a screeching halt with the arrival of COVID-19. Many small operations make just enough to pay their employees' salaries and pay their other expenses such as rent, utilities, and inventory. The remainder of their earnings is just enough to take home and spend on their expenses. Most of these small businesses have not made enough to save up for rainy days.
It may seem to these hardworking owners of a small business that the ceiling is caving right in. All of a sudden, their carefully allotted income has flatlined and they have no idea how to revive and survive. In many cases, these owners have had no other choice but to lay off employees or even shut down their business altogether. These small businesses and their owners are not far removed from us. Many are our neighbors, friends, and family. Collectively these small businesses are part of the country's economic backbone. It is high time we provide the necessary federal, state, and local assistance and funds so we can take a step towards providing practical aid to these businesses. Helping these small businesses to recover will lead to rehiring unemployed workers and will pay towards our local taxes. Currently, there are no guidelines available for these small businesses on how to apply for the small business financial package. Many business owners told me that no one is picking up the phone from the SBA loan division. Anyone working for or with SBA needs to start posting information for the benefit of the local business community so that they can apply for assistance ASAP and to help slow down the frightening rate of business shutdowns. Since I am a small business commercial insurance agent, and I represent a lot of top A-rated insurance companies, I have a strong understanding of insurance policies for several insurance companies. Unfortunately, my immediate glance at the loss of income coverage and my experience tells me there is not any proper coverage put in place regarding COVID-19 and its residual damages and loss. As a general rule, for the loss of income to be covered, the loss has to be a direct physical loss to the business owner's site to trigger the loss of income. There are minor exceptions or endorsements to enhance your loss of income, but these options still do not cover the loss of income about COVID- 19. I urge anyone who is struggling to go to an expert and get your policies reviewed. I am sure some attorneys might contest the language of the loss of income in insurance policies, but there is no guarantee if the court will decide in the customer or the insurance company's favor. As we all know, litigations take years to come to any conclusion. Let us all pray that a good, solid solution arrives soon to help our friends, family, and neighbors; so that they may get their businesses back up and running and that our communities start prospering again. Tanvir Ahmad CEO and Founder of Advance Insurance Consultants