Late Notice? Says Who! Protecting D.C. Businesses from Notice Requirements During the Pandemic

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Key Takeaway:         The D.C. Government passes a law extending notice periods under business insurance policies until 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

On July 7, 2020, the District of Columbia Council unanimously passed a Resolution recognizing that the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing D.C. businesses to choose between managing the current financial crisis and recovering their losses from insurance companies that sold the businesses policies aimed at mitigating the businesses’ risks.  Resolution 23-456, which was accompanied by both emergency and temporary legislation, recognizes the pressure that businesses are facing because of COVID-19 and seeks to protect those businesses from the sometimes technical and tedious requirements included in the fine print of insurance policies that can sometimes provide an insurance company with an excuse to deny a business’s claim for insurance coverage.  To address the pressures that businesses are facing, the Council decided that it must act to protect businesses from arbitrary deadlines built into commercial insurance policies, and to do so by automatically tolling the deadlines for complying with the policy requirements until ninety (90) days after the COVID-19 public health emergency in D.C. ends.

Under the emergency and temporary legislation, “the running of all time periods for [commercial insurance] policy holders to exercise rights under a policy or District law for a claim for a loss” is tolled during the COVID-19 public health emergency and for ninety (90) days after.  This means that if a business experiences a loss that may qualify as a claim under an insurance policy, the business has until ninety (90) days after the District ends the COVID-19 health emergency to meet the notice and other deadlines in the business’s commercial insurance policy.  The extra time this legislation affords businesses to assess and perfect their insurance claims provides some essential relief to business owners trying to prioritize what they do to weather these trying times.

The legislation only applies to insurance policies in force as of March 25, 2020 and that include coverage for losses in the District.  The Mayor signed the emergency legislation into law on July 27, 2020 and the temporary legislation was submitted for the Mayor’s signature on July 30, 2020.

If you have or believe you have an insurable loss under a business insurance policy, Tayman Lane Chaverri, LLP can help and we welcome your inquiries.  For more information, please contact Jason Wallach ([email protected], (202) 695-8124) or David Tayman ([email protected], (202) 695-8147).