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Published: Jan 06, 2021 6 min read
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The pandemic proved that insurance offers little help to small businesses slammed by shutdowns. Now insurers and Uncle Sam are working to fix the problem with solutions based on the government's response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks and World War II.

During COVID-19, millions of small-business owners like Ann Cantrell, the owner of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in New York City, have essentially been uninsured against the pandemic's economic impact. Clauses in business-interruption policies rule out losses due to viruses. Speaking to a Congressional committee on behalf of the National Retail Federation, Cantrell said the discovery of the pandemic limitation in her policy led to her “darkest days” as a business owner, as she struggled to keep her store afloat.

At least one company has announced pandemic-friendly business-interruption insurance. Now further help is in the works for entrepreneurs like Cantrell, including two proposals that would see business and government cooperate to better cover small businesses in the next pandemic. Both plans are based on a consensus that insurance companies cannot alone cover business losses from a pandemic — and, even if they could, business owners might not be able to afford the policy premiums that would have to be charged.


Legislation inspired by 9/11