Tips for small businesses in Philadelphia suffering from looting damage

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The looting and destruction could not have come at a more vulnerable time for local businesses. Many were just getting ready to reopen this Friday as Pennsylvania moves into the yellow phase. The difference is, in the case of theft and vandalism, many merchants will be able to turn to their insurance.

"My front door was kicked in. They got inside the business and threw some threw things around, took my cash register, things of that nature," said Leon Scott, owner of Silver Legends.

Like so many other small business owners, Scott was already struggling due to the pandemic shutdown when most businesses could not turn to their insurance.

"What are called 'commercial general liability policies' don't cover things like a national pandemic. That's beyond the scope and liability really of what private insurance can do," explained Sam Marshall, president and CEO of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania.

However, that same insurance does cover theft and vandalism, which means businesses impacted over the weekend are covered. They should contact their agents and, if appropriate, ask about their landlord's insurance immediately.

"Because there may be arrangements between the business and the landlord as to who's in charge, who's responsible for repairs and cleanup and costs," said Marshall.

And no matter who's responsible, document everything right away in writing and with pictures.

"That enables it to be verified, that enables prompt payment of claims, just makes life a lot simpler on all ends as an industry," said Marshall.

Businesses can also contact a special hotline set up by the city's Department of Commerce. You can email business@phila.gov or call 215-683-2100. The hotline is open until 8 p.m., and starting Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.

Meantime, Scott is hoping this won't be an irreparable setback for him or other businesses.

"Hopefully they haven't been too adversely affected by this. And hopefully, we can all get back up and running when the city reopens," said Scott.

Of course, businesses should also file a police report for any damage or theft that occurred.
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