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NEW YORK CITY-Legislation to provide enhanced insurance protections for New York business owners was introduced by Governor George Pataki. The legislation is designed to allow for the availability of more meaningful, adequate and flexible coverage options for economic loss resulting from business interruptions in times of emergencies.

The bill creates a new stand-alone line of coverage called “civil authority insurance,” which would authorize insurers to provide additional coverage to protect businesses when an action of a governmental authority results in the loss of business income. It would expand the benefits currently offered under Business Interruption insurance by eliminating the prerequisite of actual physical damage to the insureds’ premises as the trigger for such coverage.

“Since many businesses, both small and large, are our tenants in buildings that we manage, we favor the ‘Civil Authority’ insurance legislation,” says Michael S. Skomsky, BOMA’sdeputy executive director/director of legislation. “Having this additional coverage to allow flexibility for the business owner to remain open and economically sound during times of unforeseen emergencies is a very good thing. Combined with the signing of the “Terrorism Risk Insurance Act” in November, 2002 by President Bush, we applaud the fact that our elected leaders are recognizing the fact that additional insurance safety nets are necessary and should be in place in times of trouble.”

This legislation was originally introduced in 2000 after events within the state took their toll on business owners. For example, the North Country ice storm of January 1998 necessitated the closing of many roads due to the dangerous ice conditions. Similarly, in 1998, dangerous conditions involving buildings in Times Square and on Madison Avenue required the streets to be closed for extended periods of time, shutting down businesses that were physically undamaged, but in proximity to the hazardous conditions. Likewise, in 2000, businesses along Delaware Avenue suffered devastating economic hardship as a result of landslides that occurred in Bethlehem, NY. And, of course, after September 11, it was clear that many downtown Manhattan businesses were not protected by the safety net previously afforded by business interruption coverage alone.

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