Struggling businesses can’t turn to insurance for COVID-19 coverage

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Local entities and state and federal government are doing what they can to provide financial relief to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Some businesses are struggling to find help at the insurance office.

Some business owners are seeking insurance protection plans for fiscal assistance during the pandemic.

However, Fox Business reports there are exclusions in place which prevent coverage.

At just 21 years old, Anna Vetter began her entrepreneurial journey.

She opened The Hair Garage barbershop in Mandan in December and was looking forward to years of success.

"It was going really well before. I was really happy with the numbers we were getting back," said Vetter.

Vetter's plans came to a halt when Gov. Doug Burgum ordered all "personal service" businesses to close.

Vetter said: "We weren't anticipating to do a full shutdown three to four months in. So, I guess obviously, when you're income is totally cut off, that's a pretty large burden. Especially, being only so far in."

Vetter turned to her colleagues for guidance and learned that insurance wouldn't be an option.

Insurance agents say viruses are typically not covered by policies due to an exclusion endorsed by the Insurance Services Office in 2006.

However, agents say business income coverage could help if physical damage is present.

"It could help pay some of those costs associated with loss of income because your storefront, for example, is closed. But yes, typically those policies have an exclusion for virus or bacteria," said Farmers Union Insurance Agent Beck Hruby.

For Vetter, the path back to normalcy is not clear. But, she's not giving up.

"My plans are, when it is safe for us to go back, that we are just as busy -- if not busier -- than before," said Vetter.

Vetter says she knows things will be different when work resumes, but she's prepared to take on the changes.

Hruby encourages business owners to keep a record of financial losses and says not to hesitate on filing a claim with their agencies if they're concerned.