Matthew beat up small businesses - insurers may, too

CBS MarketWatch

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People will pay more for simple things, like getting a cup of coffee, as you drive an extra 10 minutes because the local luncheonette can’t reopen. The garage where you get the car fixed could be gone forever. And the contractor you hoped would repair your roof may go bankrupt and leave town.

Just how much Hurricane Matthew, which sustained gale-force winds from Florida to North Carolina and dumped up to 18 inches of rain on unlucky Wilmington, North Carolina, will hurt the Southeast coast is anyone’s guess -- until the insurance claims file in. The total estimate of CoreLogic is up to $6 billion, and the Irvine, California, analytics firm expects commercial outfits to take 25 percent of that loss.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that 40 percent of all small businesses don’t reopen after a flood. And another statistic, which insurers usually mention, is that a quarter of all businesses struck by disaster go under within a year. The figures’ accuracy couldn’t be confirmed because FEMA officials couldn’t be reached for comment and representatives for the insurance industry declined to immediately comment.

“But it’s clear those losses will be extensive,” said attorney Marshall Gilinsky who’s with the Insurance Recovery Group at the law firm of Anderson Kill. Gilinsky has represented commercial policyholders in their claims against insurance companies for 20 years.

“We always hear insurance executives on the news assuring the public that they will take care of things -- that policyholders can rest assured,” said Gilinsky. “But don’t assume everything’s going to be taken care of automatically. Storm-related claims can run into a snarl of unclear policy provisions, exclusions and occasionally obstreperous insurance company adjusters.”

To read the article: Matthew beat up small businesses – insurers may, too

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- Shareholder | Anderson Kill P.C.
New York

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