New York City Small Businesses Press Congress to End Pandemic Insurance Coverage

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A small business in Brooklyn takes on Congress, pushing for insurance coverage for future pandemics. While it’s not an easy battle, the National Retail Federation says these conversations need to happen now in order to keep retailers open.
Ann Cantrell, speaking to the United States House Financial Services Committee, said, “The last few months have been the darkest of my life. ”

The owner of “Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store” in Brooklyn said it was time to find real solutions.

“Insurance companies shouldn’t be in the habit of turning down policyholder coverage when they need it most. What happened to “you’re in good hands” or “like a good neighbor,” Cantrell said.

Speaking on behalf of the National Retail Federation, Cantrell made his case, saying, “We are a community store and people see us as a pillar of light and hope in the neighborhood. Kids meet their friends at the store to pick a gift for their teacher, parents bribe their kids with a treat if they get shot at the doctor, or reward them for getting a good report card. ”

The pandemic, she said, nearly shut down her business. She said she pays $ 6,000 a year for what she calls “all risk” insurance. She felt that there was no risk that would not be covered.

“When we (were) shut down by the Governor (Andrew Cuomo of New York) the government literally shut us down,” Cantrell said. “I made another call, saying every time viruses weren’t covered by business interruption insurance.”

The National Retail Federation has said Cantrell is a voice for retailers around the world. And although she was able to get a hearing, the organization says many insurance companies disagree.

“What they’re saying is that it won’t be isolated to one area, it seems endless and goes on and on, so they’re worried it’s costing billions of dollars,” said Leon Buck, National Retail. Vice-president of banking and financial services of the Federation. “But what we’re saying is we don’t mean it. We think if we contribute to the fund and the federal government has the money, the insurance companies will be fine. ”

“If we were in a COVID-21, for example, if it happened again, maybe another virus, the business would be protected,” Buck added. “They would file a claim with their insurer to whom they would pay monthly premiums and the federal government would help take note.”

As for Cantrell, who has loved general stores since she was a kid, it’s all about talking because someone has to.

“It’s not just small businesses like mine, it’s big businesses. No one is covered by business interruption insurance, ”said Cantrell.

Luckily, she said she had built a good website and that the vacation and her paycheck protection program loan would wear her out. She hopes that the next Congress will address the issue. In the meantime, she reminds everyone to do their small purchases.

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