Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is asking insurance companies to categorize recent looting throughout the state as a catastrophic event, which would expedite claims and advance payments for impacted businesses.
“In short, insurers must do the right thing and do it fast, with all consideration to assisting business owners to get back up on their feet and reopen as soon as possible,” Pritzker said at a news conference Monday.
A memo released by the Illinois Department of Insurance outlined a number of protective measures Pritzker requests insurance companies follow.
Those include: not canceling on impacted policyholders for 60 days, policyholders who were unable to pay premiums due to economic hardship caused by the pandemic should still be able to receive payments, and payouts should be based on business activity levels prior to the pandemic.
“Insurance companies must do everything in their power to give businesses the funds they need,” Pritzker said.
Felicia Goodwin owns Z Couture, a clothing store on Chicago’s south side. Her business was looted last week. Even with her storefront boarded up, looters took everything. They even damaged her mannequins. She found her cash register in the street.
“They took everything from us,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin is still waiting for her insurance company, State Farm, to determine how much of the damage it will cover.
“This is an overwhelming experience,” Goodwin said. “I know the struggles that I went through in order to build this business up. We have been in business for nine years. So many times, we got to the point where we said we would just close our doors, because it was a struggle. But we stayed, and we did the work.”
Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham also spoke at the news conference. Cunningham has worked in the insurance field for more than 20 years, he said.
His message to insurers: “Get more field adjusters, immediately.”
He also called for those adjusters to have the ability to “cut checks instantly.”
The unrest in Chicago and various suburbs came in response to the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. A memorial for Floyd was held in his native Houston on Monday. Protests have continued across the state for more than a week now.
In Washington on Monday, Democrats proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures.
Pritzker said he believes calls to “defund” police departments are a “poor use of words.”
“They want fundamental change in the way that police operate,” Pritzker said. “There’s obviously an element here of: How about avoiding police interaction altogether? … I would not use those words [defund the police] to describe what they’re actually talking about, but there definitely needs to be a hard look at, and again, we’re looking at a series of reforms that we think ought to take place, that would amount to a pretty major police accountability and criminal justice reform for the state of Illinois.”
Pritzker said he and his staff are working on their own proposal with input from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.