This table does not get seated.
This table does get seated.
People get seated checkerboard style only every other table can be occupied.
The bar can accommodate four people instead of the usual 20.
Like in other restaurants in the nations capital this venue can operate at only 50 capacity for indoor dining.
That means profits get cut in half too.
That after the restaurant was fully shot from March to June.
We laid some people off, we furloughed some people that went and got unemployment compensation
and now theyre back so weve got almost everybody back.
Owner of the restaurant MediumRare Mark Busher says the pandemic cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.
To try and compensate Busher got in touch with his insurance company
hoping the 25, 000 dollars he paid in insurance would pay off.
We like many responsible business owners filed a claim with our insurance company
saying that our business has been interrupted due to circumstances beyond our control.
And were going to seek to the insurance company
for reimbursement of lost sales and profits under the wording of our policy.
It didnt take very long to get a letter back saying were denying your claim.
A pandemic or a virus is not a covered cause of loss.
Insurance companies changed their policies after the SARs outbreak that hit the world in 2002-2003,
when insurance companies had to pay millions of dollars in compensation.
Some added straightforward wording saying they are not covering losses
because of a pandemic or virus outbreak.
Others found more intricate wording but to the same effect.
Yet independent experts say it all depends on how to interpret the contract.
Thats the thing if there is if theyre requiring physical loss only,
then youre kind of stuck but a good business interruption policy shouldnt have a physical loss requirement.
Some of them they dont have a direct physical loss requirement but theyre still using it anyway.
Theyre adding it in as if it was there and its not.
However insurance companies explained that the new policies were not adopted to get out of paying.
Theyre simply trying to preserve the insurance industry.
The US has never seen such a massive disaster.
The largest one before the pandemic was hurricane Katrina that cost insurance companies 54 billion dollars.
The covid 19 pandemic according to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association
has led to monthly losses between about 250 and 430 billion dollars monthly.
This is more than half of all the money insurance companies have for covering future losses.
If a pandemic is specifically mentioned in the insurance contract,
the number of insurance claims will be so large
It will surpass the amount these companies can pay.
Insurers say in a case like todays it is the government that should support small businesses.
Small business owners on the country are urging the government to change laws making it impossible
for insurance companies to evade paying in extraordinary circumstances like the current pandemic.
For Valentino Vaisiliwa in Washington Anna Rice VOA news