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Restaurant owners learn pandemics not covered under disaster insurance

LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — All across Las Vegas, and the country for that matter, restaurants are empty. Owners calling it disastrous.

Businesses are shut down the same as if a tornado or raging fire forced them to close their doors.

"I heard from both insurance companies today that they were officially denying my claim," said Cory Harwell, who owns the popular Carson Kitchen downtown, as well as a second restaurant in Atlanta.

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Losses, he says, are adding up fast. "And it's just really unfortunate that we're not covered in a situation like this," said Harwell.

Though he's been paying premiums for so-called "Business Interruption Insurance," pandemics are not listed. Specifically, his policies exclude viruses or bacteria, and "any microorganism that induces or is capable of inducing physical distress."

Yet, he says it wasn't the virus that shut them down. "We were still open when the virus was known and present. We're closed because the government ordered us to close," said Harwell.

Also, he says, no tests were ever conducted to determine if the virus was even present at their restaurant. Las Vegas attorney Matt Hoffman says the "Restaurants vs. Insurance Companies" battle will be a tough one, with billions of dollars on the line nationwide.


Ultimately he says it will come down to the specific language of the contract. "And that's the one thing the restaurants have in their favor. If the policies have any ambiguity, it will be read in favor of coverage," said Hoffman.

Cory and others say, for them, disaster has struck, and despite paying for it, help is not on the way.