Rep. Fitzpatrick Fights For Insurers To Cover COVID-19 Business Losses

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick stands with FDNY firefighter Terence Pfeifer (son of Ray Pfiefer) and another member of the FDNY on the White House lawn after the bill signing. Credit: Office of Congressman Fitzpatrick.

As businesses continue their struggle to stay open during the ongoing pandemic, a group of representatives in Congress is working to get their losses covered by insurance.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) joined Speak Your Piece with Pat Wandling Wednesday to give an update on efforts related to business interruption insurance.

A frustrated Fitzpatrick explained while businesses take out insurance for the unexpected, insurance companies are refusing to cover their losses. He attributed the difficulty to attorneys who “creatively” made pandemics, or “pathogen based shutdowns,” an exception.

The fix is simple, according to Fitzpatrick. Making insurance companies cover COVID-19 related losses would help small businesses. It would also remove the factor where government has to step in to pick and choose who to bail out.

“It shouldn’t be the time when we pick winners and losers among industries,” said Fitzpatrick. “This is about helping businesses get through this rough patch. They’re doing the right thing, they’re doing exactly what government is asking them to do, which is to shut down, distance, quarantine, and sanitize.”

Fitzpatrick joined a group of 18 representatives in signing a bipartisan letter to four insurance industry groups. They sent the letter on Mar. 18 to:

  • the American Property Casualty Insurance Association,
  • the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies,
  • the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America,
  • and the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers.

“We urge you to work with your member companies and brokers to recognize financial loss due to COVID-19 as part of policyholders’ business interruption coverage,” the letter states.

But the insurance companies were not swayed. All four leaders of their respective groups responded as one.

“Standard commercial insurance policies offer coverage and protection against a wide range of risks and threats and are vetted and approved by state regulators. Business interruption policies do not, and were not designed to, provide coverage against communicable diseases such as COVID-19.”

As a result, Fitzpatrick is now trying to make it law. He stated he is working with leadership in the House and Senate to create a bill forcing insurance companies to cover COVID-19 related losses.

Fitzpatrick, with the rest of the House of Representatives, will also be voting Friday on a $2 trillion package recently passed by the Senate. He commented on a separate 1,400 page bill floated in the House, which would include superfluous items.

“We can debate those issues on a separate playing field at a separate time as we have and we will,” said Fitzpatrick. “But we are in a health crisis and an economic crisis. This relief package has to be timely, immediate, targeted, and direct in its scope and its focus to protect people’s lives, health, the community health, and save the economy. Anything outside of that scope has no business in this bill.”

The full interview is below.

The following representatives also signed the letter with Fitzpatrick:

  • Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
  • Jim Hagedorn (R-MI)
  • Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
  • French Hill (R-AR)
  • Marc Veasey (D-TX)
  • Rick Crawford (R-AR)
  • Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
  • Steve Womack (R-AR)
  • Gilbert Cisneros (D-CA)
  • Bruce Westerman (R-AR)
  • Scott Peters (D-CA)
  • Max Rose (D-NY)
  • Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
  • Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • Andy Levin (D-MI)