The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses of all sizes. From “mom-and-pop” operations to major corporations, shutting down the economy has led to uncertainty for many companies close to putting up “Closed” signs and shuttering their operations.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce serves as a much-needed voice for businesses on Capitol Hill and state legislative bodies throughout the country. On their website, they tout their representation of “the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions.”
A Fractured Relationship
Following coronavirus-driven closures, both temporarily and permanently, business interruption insurance has driven a wedge between entrepreneurs and the organization they once relied upon. The 2003 SARS epidemic led to changes in policy language following a cavalcade of these types of claims hit insurance companies. Viruses, bacterium, or other microorganisms became exempt as of 2006.
The current pandemic shows a growing number of state legislatures siding with these businesses to remove that condition in the face of the coronavirus. Not at their side are their former champions. The money entrepreneurs provide the Chamber for lobbying efforts is now being used to undermine their cause.
In a letter to Congress, the once ally now focuses on the best interests of the insurance industry, claiming that rewriting contracts is both unconstitutional and could result in irreparable harm to insurance providers. A prominent industry organization speculates that paying interruption claims due to COVID-19 would range from $255 billion to $100 billion per month, depending on the number of employees.
Ironically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released a survey that revealed one in four small businesses would permanently shutter because of the coronavirus. By focusing their efforts on helping one type of business, their actions, or lack of action, could see that percentage rise and further damage what was once a strong association.