What is covered under business interruption insurance?

What is covered under business interruption insurance?

Business interruption insurance is an important coverage for companies to have in place. It can provide vital financial support in the event normal business operations are disrupted by covered incidents. But what exactly does business interruption insurance cover? This article will examine the key details of this type of insurance.

What is Business Interruption Insurance?


Business interruption insurance, sometimes referred to as business income insurance, is a type of insurance that covers loss of income in the event business operations are suspended due to direct physical loss or damage. It helps to replace the revenue a business would have earned had it been operating normally.


The purpose of business interruption insurance is to protect businesses from financial hardship when they suffer an unexpected loss event. It allows them to pay ongoing operating expenses and helps avoid potential bankruptcy.


Standard business interruption insurance policies cover loss of net business income based on financial records, operating expenses, temporary relocation costs, and expenses incurred to minimize suspension of business operations.

What Does Business Interruption Insurance Cover?

Several types of losses can be covered under a business interruption insurance policy.

Lost Income

This covers the net income the business would have earned had operations continued as normal. Calculations account for trends and variations in the business cycle.

Fixed Operating Costs

Even if business activities are halted, many overhead expenses and fixed costs still need to be paid. This includes expenses like rent, insurance premiums, equipment leases, interest, taxes, and contracted services.

Extra Expenses

Additional costs above and beyond the fixed expenses can also be covered. These extra expenses must be essential to resuming operations, like expenses for temporary equipment rentals or facilities.

Civil Authority Coverage

If access to the business premises is prohibited due to property damage or security issues nearby, resulting income losses can be covered. For example, losses due to a city-issued evacuation order.

Contingent Business Interruption

This covers losses incurred due to disruption at the premises of key suppliers or customers. So even if the policyholder’s property is not directly damaged, they can still claim losses.

What is Not Covered By Business Interruption Insurance?

While business interruption insurance covers a lot, some losses are excluded.

Uninsured Events

If the event causing suspension of operations is not included in the policy coverage terms, related losses would not be covered. For example, some policies exclude natural disasters like floods.

Communicable Diseases

Many policies exclude losses tied to communicable diseases or food contamination incidents. These are seen as uninsurable risks by some insurance companies.

Off-Premises Utility Interruptions

Loss of utilities like electricity due to issues at the utility company likely would not trigger business interruption coverage. The policyholder’s property itself must suffer covered physical damage.

Voluntary Suspension of Activities

If the policyholder chooses to close or reduce activities for reasons other than direct property damage, related income losses would not qualify. There must be an involuntary interruption caused by a covered peril.

Factors that Determine Business Interruption Payouts

If a claim is accepted, several key policy components impact the claim payout amount.

Policy Limits

Most policies have a maximum limit on the amount that can be paid out for a business interruption claim. This is an important consideration when purchasing adequate coverage. Higher-risk businesses may need higher limits.


Like other insurance, business interruption policies have deductibles – usually stated as a waiting period – that must be met before coverage kicks in. Common amounts are 24 hours up to 2 weeks of lost income.

Waiting Periods

The waiting period functions similarly to a deductible. It’s a period that must elapse after an incident before coverage activates. Waiting periods allow insurers to avoid frequent small claims.

Indemnity Period

This is the maximum length of coverage after an incident. Common indemnity periods are 12 months but can extend longer depending on policy terms and premiums paid.


In summary, business interruption insurance covers income losses and extra expenses when business operations are halted by a covered incident. Exact policy terms vary, but some key areas of coverage include lost income, fixed operating costs, extra expenses required to resume operations quickly, and losses due to civil authority or supplier/customer disruptions. Key exclusions often include uninsured causes of loss, communicable diseases, off-premises utility interruptions, and voluntary suspension of activities. Factors like policy limits, deductibles, waiting periods, and indemnity periods also impact potential claim payouts.

Importance of Adequate Coverage

Given the complexities involved, companies need to work with a qualified insurance advisor to determine adequate business interruption coverage limits and terms. This coverage serves as a vital financial safety net when unexpected disasters strike.


FAQ 1: Can business interruption insurance help replace lost income due to COVID-19?

Maybe, depending on specific policy terms. Many business interruption policies exclude losses tied to communicable diseases or pandemics. However, some policies do offer this coverage, either as a built-in coverage enhancement or a separate endorsement. Check with your provider to understand your coverage.

FAQ 2: Does business interruption coverage pay out if there is no physical damage?

Typically physical damage to insured property is required to trigger business interruption coverage. However, some policies do include additional coverages for losses tied to civil authority orders or supplier disruptions, even without damage at the policyholder’s premises.

FAQ 3: What types of documents are needed to support a business interruption claim?

Insurers typically require recent tax returns, income statements, and other financial filings to quantify lost income. Receipts, vendor invoices, payroll records, and other documents supporting extra expenses are also necessary.

FAQ 4: Can I insure loss of utilities under business interruption insurance?

You may be able to, but it depends. Many policies exclude utility outages stemming from external utility company issues. But if on-premises equipment is damaged, causing utility loss, coverage may apply. Supplemental utility interruption coverage can also be purchased.

FAQ 5: Does business interruption coverage pay for financial losses only?

No, it can also cover operational expenses required to get your business back up and running. This includes extra expenses for temporary equipment rentals, relocated operations, and costs to expedite the repair or replacement of property

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