Press briefing

Gov. J.B. Pritzker answers reporters’ questions during a COVID-19 briefing May 22 in his office at the Capitol in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Insurance are calling on insurers to expedite claims and payments to businesses hit by looters in recent days.

“It is my expectation and the expectation of the Illinois Department of Insurance that insurance companies will do everything in their power to give their customers the resources they need to rebuild and get back on their feet as soon as possible,” Pritzker said. “To that end, my administration has been in consultation with major insurance companies on the quick and robust support they should provide Illinois business owners who have experienced property damage, including but not limited to riots, vandalism and looting.”

Pritzker made the announcement at a Chicago news conference Monday, where he was joined by Robert Muriel, director of the Department of Insurance.

IDOI released the Company Bulletin — a tool aimed at providing “timely, relevant, and helpful guidance” to insurance companies — requesting that insurers take specific measures to help businesses rebuild.

Per a news release from the governor’s office, insurers should “apply claims best practices consistent with the categorization of this event as a catastrophic event.” They should also expedite claims handling, and advance claim payments. Another expectation is “fair treatment of all policyholders, regardless of size.”

Insurers should also implement a moratorium on cancellations or non-renewal of impacted policyholders for 60 days and should “err on the side of the policyholder” when paying claims as a result of “riots, civil commotion, or vandalism” even if the policyholder was unable to make full premium payments during the period following the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Pritzker said as the regulators of insurers, the state has the ability to “write them up” during their licensing processes and processes of review. Muriel also said the department can levy fines and suspend licenses.

“Probably the number one thing we can do is engage in market conduct examinations, to the extent that insurance companies are not complying with the law or doing what we expect of them, we have the ability to send in examiners into their offices to make sure that they are doing what they're supposed to,” he said.

The governor also differentiated looters and rioters from the peaceful protestors of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis on May 25 as a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

“Over the last 10 days, peaceful protesters, motivated by the killings of George Floyd and countless others who lost their lives to systemic racism, the tens of thousands have taken to the streets in Illinois in Anna, in Springfield, in East St. Louis, in Decatur, in Chicago, in cities and towns across our state to call for justice, for police accountability, for reform and for an end to the disparities in health care and food access, job opportunities, education and housing,” Pritzker said. “There were also those who tried to steal the peaceful voices and importance of this moment by looting and burning and damaging small businesses and private and public property, especially in communities of color.”

Pritzker said the property damage hit at a particularly bad time for some businesses already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and his associated March 20 stay-at-home order.

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