What Does Business Interruption Insurance Cover?

Most businesses carry commercial property insurance, which covers loss and damage caused by covered events, such as fires, tornado, wind and other unexpected events. Under such policies, the insurance company provides funds to repair the property that was damaged by the covered event. But what if the unexpected event results in an interruption to the… Continue reading


Most businesses carry commercial property insurance, which covers loss and damage caused by covered events, such as fires, tornado, wind and other unexpected events. Under such policies, the insurance company provides funds to repair the property that was damaged by the covered event. But what if the unexpected event results in an interruption to the business? This is where business interruption insurance steps-in.

Business interruption insurance is often an add-on to an existing property insurance policy. Generally stated, if a property insurance policy covers a claim for a direct physical loss of, or damage to, an insured property, business interruption insurance covers the financial loss suffered from suspending business operations because of the unexpected event.

For example, a business might suffer fire damage, which would be covered under a property insurance policy. The business interruption insurance would then cover the loss of income suffered by that business from the suspension of operations caused by the covered event.

Insurance policies are written either to insure against a specific list of perils, or they are written broadly and then list events that are excluded from insurance coverage. When it comes to business interruption insurance, the specific terms of the policy, and the reason for the business being unable to operate, will determine whether coverage is available.

Like other insurance policies, there are limits to business interruption insurance. These limits can be in the form of a limited time period to restore business operations, a cap on the dollar amount of the loss and duties of the insured to mitigate its damages.

Even when an insurance company denies an insurance claim, a business owner still has options. Coverage disagreements often result in lawsuits to seek a judicial determination as to whether there is in fact insurance coverage for the claim. If a denial letter is received, it is important to have experienced legal counsel review the insurance policy and the claim.

Recently, the focus of business interruption insurance has related to the suspension of business operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government shelter-in-place orders. Over a thousand lawsuits have already been filed throughout the country by business owners seeking a judicial determination as to whether the pandemic and government ordered shutdowns trigger coverage under various business interruption insurance policies.

At Goldenberg Heller and Antognoli, our attorneys have experience reviewing insurance policies and helping business owners to understand their coverage, submit claims and, if necessary, pursue litigation to establish coverage. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. 618-656-5150

John McCracken shares insights with other lawyers

John McCracken recently presented at a continuing legal education seminar hosted by United States Arbitration & Mediation.  John spoke about the unique circumstances and challenges attorneys face in mediating estate and trust disputes and identified practices that attorneys can employ to overcome them. The key topics of John’s presentation included 1) recognizing the range of… Continue reading

John McCracken recently presented at a continuing legal education seminar hosted by United States Arbitration & Mediation.  John spoke about the unique circumstances and challenges attorneys face in mediating estate and trust disputes and identified practices that attorneys can employ to overcome them.

The key topics of John’s presentation included 1) recognizing the range of emotions clients face when litigating estate disputes, 2) the advantages of mediating estate disputes, 3) preparing for mediation, and 4) evaluating the financial and tax consequences of settlement structures.

John is a partner with the law firm Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. in Edwardsville, Illinois. In addition to his estate and trust litigation practice, he represents clients throughout Southwestern Illinois and Missouri in a wide variety of business and personal litigation and transactional matters.  You may contact John at 618-656-5150.

Fiduciary Duties Under Illinois Power of Attorney

In an apparent case of first impression, the Illinois Appellate Court concluded that executing a power of attorney does not necessarily impose fiduciary duties on the agent. Estate of Martin Stahling, Sr., 2013 IL App (4th) 120271. Stahling provides a fascinating case study of the interplay between the presumption of undue influence and powers of attorney. The decedent… Continue reading

In an apparent case of first impression, the Illinois Appellate Court concluded that executing a power of attorney does not necessarily impose fiduciary duties on the agent. Estate of Martin Stahling, Sr., 2013 IL App (4th) 120271. Stahling provides a fascinating case study of the interplay between the presumption of undue influence and powers of attorney. The decedent named his son as agent under a health care power. Eleven days later the decedent signed a deed conveying his farm to himself and his son as joint tenants. Title to the farm vested in the son when his father died soon thereafter. Decedent’s daughter sought to set aside the conveyance, arguing that the health care power created a fiduciary relationship between decedent his son and raised a corresponding presumption of undue influence.

The Appellate Court rejected the daughter’s argument, noting that the son never exercised any authority under the health care power of attorney. Indeed, he was unaware that decedent even executed the power. According to the Court, “an agent must accept the powers delegated by the principal” to create a fiduciary relationship. Id. at ¶ 22. The Court explained that a power of attorney, alone and without evidence of acceptance by the named agent, means nothing.

Even if the son knew of and accepted the power, the court would have reached the same result. The Court observed that “even when a health care power of attorney creates a fiduciary relationship … that relationship does not extend to matters outside the scope of the power of attorney. Moreover, a health care power of attorney, by itself, does not create a presumption of undue influence in property or financial transactions between the power’s principal and agent.” Id.at ¶ 23.

The Court’s decision reminds us of the corollary proposition that a power of attorney for property, if accepted by the agent, will create a fiduciary duty that extends to property transfers, will and trusts. In other words, the decision highlights the importance of a proper planning and execution of estate planning documents to avoid the presumption of undue influence and costly-and often bitter-will contests.

Please consult the estate planning attorneys at Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. if you have questions about powers of attorney or any other estate planning matters.

Citation to Discover Assets – A Vital Creditor’s Remedy

The 7th Circuit’s recent decision, In re Porayko, No. 12-2777 (7th Cir. 2013), reminds us that the citation to discover assets remains a powerful weapon in the creditor’s arsenal. Porayko holds that service of a citation on the debtor creates a lien on his bank accounts under Illinois law. A judgment creditor in Illinois may… Continue reading

The 7th Circuit’s recent decision, In re Porayko, No. 12-2777 (7th Cir. 2013), reminds us that the citation to discover assets remains a powerful weapon in the creditor’s arsenal. Porayko holds that service of a citation on the debtor creates a lien on his bank accounts under Illinois law.

A judgment creditor in Illinois may serve a citation to discover assets on either the judgment debtor or a third party who holds property of-or owes money to-the debtor. Service of a citation on the debtor automatically creates a lien on all of his nonexempt personal property, including bank accounts and other intangible assets. The lien thus attaches to everything for automobiles to shares of stock. The citation lien also reaches the debtor’s after acquired personal property, including money which becomes payable to the debtor after the citation is served.

Similarly, a citation served on a third party creates a lien on all non-exempt personal property of the debtor held or controlled by the third party and on any money due from the third party to the debtor. Once again, the lien extends to assets that the third party receives at any time after service until disposition of the citation.

Porayko reminds creditors that the value of a checking account is personal property of the debtor. So it is subject to a citation lien under Illinois law. The creditor in Porayko prevailed over the debtor’s trustee in bankruptcy, who sought to avoid a lien created when the creditor served a citation on the debtor’s bank. The citation served on the bank froze the account prior to bankruptcy. Since the lien arose during the preference period, the trustee claimed he could avoid the lien. But the creditor had also served a citation on the debtor outside the preference period. As Judge Easterbrook noted, the initial citation created a lien on all of the debtor’s personal property, including funds in his bank account. The trustee could not avoid this lien because it antedated the preference period. Thus, money remaining in the account when the debtor filed bankruptcy remained subject to a valid citation.

What about funds withdrawn from the account between the time the creditor served the citation on the debtor and time the bank was served? In Porayko, the debtor withdrew funds after he was served but before the bank was. The creditor’s lien on those funds lapsed; the bank was free to honor drafts on the account until the bank itself was served with a citation. So Porayko also illustrates the importance of serving the bank as soon as the account is discovered-otherwise, the bank will continue paying the judgment debtor’s checks, and the account may be depleted.

We understand creditor remedies at GHAR. Contact John McCracken for effective help collecting debts.