Department of Commerce talks interruption insurance

Published 2:01 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

The Minnesota Department of Commerce regularly publishes consumer alerts and frequently asked questions to inform the public of ways to protect themselves and their assets, according to a press release.

In light of the ongoing developments related to the current coronavirus situation and its impact on Minnesota consumers, the Commerce Department shares the following Consumer Alert on business interruption insurance and COVID-19.

With restaurants, bars, breweries, cinemas, theaters, bowling alleys and other “places of public accommodation” closed since March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Minnesota businesses are concerned about how the novel coronavirus will impact them, the release stated. One common question is the extent to which insurance may cover any losses businesses experience as a result of COVID-19. While there are more specialized insurance coverages available, many businesses will need to review the coverage afforded by their business owners or commercial property policy. While these types of policies are rarely identical, they typically include coverage for business interruption.

Email newsletter signup

The purpose of this coverage is to protect businesses from lost revenue as the result of a disaster or emergency. The most common trigger for this type of coverage is when an insured property sustains a direct physical loss from a disaster, such as a tornado. Your policy should list the types of events it covers and those it excludes. If a type of event is not listed in your policy, then it is probably not covered. The only way to determine whether an event is covered is to read your policy.

You should read your policy to determine whether there is a business interruption coverage exclusion for viruses, such as COVID-19. The industry trend has been to exclude business interruption coverage for viruses, but this may not be universal. Each claim for business interruption coverage is unique to the specific underlying facts and policy language. As commercial insurance policies are exempt from having to be filed and reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the number of policies affording or excluding business interruption coverage for viruses is unknown.

The state of emergency declaration does not change the terms of your business interruption coverage, but does indicate the seriousness with which the governor has directed state agencies to treat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many policies include very specific language regarding emergency declarations. Declarations in and of themselves do not automatically result in a situation where business interruption claims are within the scope of the policy language. The department strongly encouraged business owners to read policy language in detail and consult your business attorney regarding any specific situation for your business, the release stated.

Minnesotans with questions or concerns about business interruption insurance may contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Consumer Services Center by calling 651-539-1600.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development can keep people informed on emerging challenges related to COVID-19 and any measures the state and federal lawmaker’s are doing to assist at

Information on worker compensation, safety and health can be found at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry at

The Minnesota Attorney General’s website is also a good resource to understand potential business risk due to fraudulent activities and can be found at